Commentary: Illegal Immigration is Costing Michiganders Jobs

by Jim Riddell


This November, Michigan voters would be wise to recognize the connection between their top concern — the economy — and illegal immigration. Study after study shows that illegal immigration puts downward pressure on wages and takes away Americans’ job opportunities.

That doesn’t seem to bother Democrats. Joe Biden’s immigration plans, which Democratic senators including Gary Peters support, would put the screws to America’s working class. His agenda includes an amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants already here. In addition, Biden wants to suspend all deportations during his first 100 days in office and relax the rules for claiming asylum.

These policies would effectively roll out a welcome mat for millions more illegal immigrants. The Democrats’ idea for “fixing” immigration is, essentially, to allow anyone from anywhere to enter for any reason at any time — and stay for as long as they want.

This approach has already wreaked havoc on Americans’ wages and employment prospects.

Harvard University’s George J. Borjas, arguably the nation’s foremost scholar of immigration, noted that as of 2016, individuals who have dropped out of high school typically made about $25,000 a year. Total immigration, legal and illegal, over the previous 20 years led to a 25 percent increase in the size of the low-skilled labor force. Those additional competitors for employment opportunities depressed the earnings in this bottom group — who are disproportionately minorities — by $800-$1,500 a year.

That’s real money to Americans who are playing by the rules and trying to earn a living. In fact, curbing illegal immigration is one of the surest ways to effectively raise the minimum wage — a policy Democrats claim to support.

As Borjas wrote, “because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip.”

In addition to depressing wages, illegal immigrants consume public services they don’t pay for. One study comparing the cost of total services consumed to taxes they paid pegged the cost of illegal immigration to federal, state and local government at $116 billion in 2017.

Americans intuitively understand this problem. A Zogby poll of 2020 battleground states, including Michigan, found that by a 2-1 margin, voters prefer an immigration approach that welcomes fewer new residents, tightens border security, and more strictly enforces existing laws.

Republican Senate candidate John James gets it. He is opposed to amnesty and citizenship for those who came here illegally. He’s a supporter of Kate’s Law, which would require additional fines and prison time for illegal aliens deported for criminal acts who try to reenter the United States. And he would crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” — those locales that refuse to cooperate with the federal government in deporting illegal aliens.

Incumbent Sen. Gary Peters, by contrast, has opposed punitive measures against law-defying sanctuary cities. And he has voted against the approach of Kate’s law to returning criminal illegal immigrants.

A Republican Senate may be the last best hope we have of preventing a massive new wave of illegal immigration. That’s why it’s important for Michiganders to vote strategically this year.

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Jim Riddell lives in Shiawassee County and supports legal, controlled immigration.
Photo “Workers” by Daniel Lobo.









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