How Immigration Affects the U.S. Workforce


Criminal justice reform and high immigration are incompatible. The First Step Act, which President Trump signed at the end of 2018, created, for some, avenues for early release. Once the inmates are let go, the most successful way they can re-enter mainstream society is through a job. But job competition becomes more difficult as the foreign-born, work-authorized population continues to increase annually through the addition to the economy of more than 1 million new lawful permanent residents and 750,000 guest workers.

Because of senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner’s persuasive influence in the criminal justice reform debates, Mr. Trump invited his son-in-law to join preliminary conversations about immigration. The takeaway from Mr. Kushner’s White House meetings with business leaders and immigration advocates was that, to remain strong, the economy needs more employment-based visas. And that’s the message we’re starting to hear from Mr. Trump, including this recent comment: ” we have to have more people coming into our country “

But high immigration has contributed to four decades of stagnant wages, with several million Americans unemployed or underemployed. The immigration expansion that business groups and special interests hope to achieve would be harmful to everyone’s job prospects, particularly for early-released prisoners who will face a challenging enough task to find employment.

Although the official Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate is low, signs on the ground show that throughout the nation an unacceptable number of layoffs will leave thousands of Americans jobless. JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret, Payless ShoeSource and PepsiCo have laid off or announced the layoffs of employees, or declared bankruptcy, resulting in some 2,500 stores closing. Retail sales jobs are often entry-level, a good starting point for unemployed, underemployed or the responsible individuals who wish to start anew. Now, their job opportunities will be fewer.

By Chris Chmielenski for THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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