The Elusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The Elusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Solutions hard to find with the publics negative mood

By Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Staff
Created: Jun 16, 2010
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2010

With unemployment hovering at 9.7 percent, the issue of illegal job-seekers is likely to test politicians wits after the fall election. A poll-proven negative mood in the public toward illegal immigrants may make solutions harder to find.

With over 15 million unemployed, some people see the fast-growing number of immigrants, including the some 12 million illegal immigrants, as a pressing issue.

Some experts are claiming that illegal immigration is impacting native employment. Dr. Steven Camarota, director of research of the Center for Immigration Studies, said that immigration has a direct relationship with declined teenage employment in the country.

At a panel discussion on May 12 at the National Press Club, Dr. Camarota said that in the top fifteen kinds of teenage jobs, about one out of five workersa little moreis an immigrant.

“So there are a lot of immigrants in 'teenage jobs.' These include things like retail salesperson, waitress, stock handler, cook, construction laborer, food preparation workerjust exactly the things you might expect.

Dr. Camarota referred to statistics that in 2007 the ten states where immigrants formed the biggest part of the workforce had only 45 percent U.S.-born teenagers in the labor market, as opposed to 58 percent in the ten lowest immigration states.

The number of teenagers not working in 2007 was about 9 million, compared to 5 million in 1994, according to Dr. Camarota, who thinks that immigration accounts for a significant part of this decline.

Public Turning More Negative

Recent polls show the degree of public concern over illegal immigration.

According to an April 29 Ramussen poll, 64 percent of Arizonas voters supported their states new stringent immigration law, 30 percent opposed.

Arizona passed on April 23 what is said to be the toughest immigration law in the United States, allowing police to question people at any time upon reasonable suspicion about their immigration status. Critics of the law, including President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, say it risks racial profiling.

A CBS News/New York Times national poll in early May found that only 36 percent of adults thought the Arizona law went too far while 60 percent said it was about right or didnt go far enough.

Children of illegal immigrants are involved as well. A Rasmussen poll reported on June 3 that 58 percent of U.S. voters in a telephone survey agree that children of illegal immigrants should not automatically become U.S. citizens; 33 percent disagreed.

Support for tougher employer sanctions has also gone up, according to a Rasmussen poll released on June 4. Only 21 percent opposed sanctioning employers who hire illegal immigrants while supporters counted for 70 percent, a jump from 60 percent four years ago when the Senate debated illegal immigration.

The CBS/Times poll in early May found 65 percent of Americans say illegal immigration is a very serious problem, an increase of five points from two years ago. 78 percent say the United States should be doing more to stop illegal immigration.

Its not just Republicans who oppose illegal immigration. Democrat pollstersStan Greenberg, Celinda Lake, Guy Molyneauxare advising Democratic politicians based on their surveys to drop immigrant empathy, said Politico on June 10. They advised avoiding the phrase, an earned path to citizenship, which Democratic voters regard as amnesty and rewarding immigrants for breaking the law. Pollsters even advised dropping the term, undocumented workers, as sounding too positive towards illegal immigrants.

A Vital Workforce

The Independent Task Force on Immigration and Americas Future, co-chaired by former Sen. Spencer Abraham and Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, provided perspective on the immigration issue in Immigration and Americas Future: A New Chapter, released in 2006.

Written by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, it said that immigrants play a positive role in augmenting the workforce because the U.S. economy is creating more jobs than can be filled by native workers. Today, we might want to add the caveat: during times of economic expansion.