President Obama’s recent executive order to shorten the time that illegal immigrants would have to spend away from their U.S. citizen spouses, children or parents while seeking legal status is unfair to both Americans and the immigrants who escape the harsh conditions of life in countries like El Salvador, Mexico, Russia or Guatemala. Here is an issue the U.S. Congress should rise to the occasion and be heard.
It is unfair to Americans because the executive order creates an even larger pool of workers who now compete for fewer and fewer jobs. In a time when black unemployment among teenagers is a staggering 38 percent or when two million Americans with a bachelor’s degree are unemployed it seems counter intuitive to enlarge the size of the labor market by allowing more illegal immigrants the chance to enter the job market.
Let us take the example of babies born to illegal parents – otherwise known as “anchor babies”. According to various studies, this number hovers between 260,000 to 360,000 per year. Allowing the parents to stay and apply for legal status translates into 520,000 to 720,000 entrants into the anemic job market. And once this group is granted citizenship they can apply for their brothers, sisters and parents to join them – this latter process is what is called “chain migration” or family reunification. In short, as President Obama panders to Hispanic voters to secure another term in office, other constituencies; namely, black Americans, teenagers, elderly, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and blue-collar American workers are put behind the eight ball.
In 2000 the labor force participation rate for ages 16 and older stood at 68.5 percent but since then has stagnated (in other words, millions of Americans have simply given up their search for work) and dipped to 64 percent: a two percentage point decline is the equivalent of about three million fewer Americans working or looking for work or approximately six million.
The fact that a Mexican or Central American mother has to walk across the border and deliver her baby in the U.S. is testament to the gross injustice facing millions of Latinos in their home countries. If the healthcare system in Mexico was above average or clinics in Central America could provide quality healthcare to their citizens the issue of anchor babies would be a moot point. Indeed, Mexico should be one of the richest countries in the world because it has all the necessary ingredients for a dynamic economy: rich in natural, human and agriculture resources. The potential of tourism alone should be the engine of growth for the Mexican economy (Turkey has been able to generate between $20 – $26 billion annually from tourism). Sadly, Mexican officials have exported their revolution to the U.S. by not providing decent jobs to their citizens who are forced to find work in the U.S.
What America needs is not a president that panders to certain ethic voting blocs but a “Latin American President” who puts the issue of good governance in Mexico, Central and South America front and center. If President Obama does not insist on good governance in places like Mexico and Russia then the U.S. Congress must fill in that void. We need statesmen who will decouple our trade from China and move it to places like El Salvador or Nicaragua. With wage differentials between China and Mexico (and Central America) at par private-public partnerships to move manufacturing south of our border makes sense. For example, moving the annual $8 billion worth of toys we import from China to south of our border would a reverse magnet for immigrants. In addition, America needs bi-partisan solutions to our broken immigration system such as mirco-finance loans – not hand-outs — to the millions of immigrants (legal and illegal) as a means to use as start-up capital in their home countries. Congress must also pass the Dream Act immediately but ask that those armed with engineering, geology, accounting, computer science, public health and science degrees to return to their communities and help rebuild them from ground up.
President Obama is a good man but not a good leader. A leader would seek justice for both Americans and immigrants alike and not sacrifice both for his own election.
Read the Original Article in The Hill here