UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION POLICY:
We continually look at pieces of legislation that are designed to improve the economic conditions within the country, to establish an environment in which businesses will be able to create more jobs, to provide more jobs for Americans; and I certainly support the effort.
I certainly believe with all my heart that that is what we should be doing, and I believe in the stimulus package that we passed here. I wish it had been bigger. I think that that is the right direction for the country.
But it is also interesting to me to listen to the various interpretations of the problems that we have--problems that are, in fact, causing people to be laid off or people who are and have been laid off to be unable to find jobs. Some of that is, undoubtedly, as a result of a sluggish economy, and I hope the economy will be helped by the passage of the legislation that we put through here, legislation that was passed by the House, then was sent over to the Senate, passed by that body, and finally signed by the President.
But there is another aspect of this jobs issue that I think needs our attention, no matter how unpleasant it is to talk about it. No matter how much we want to shy away from it, no matter what the political implications of discussing it might be, I think it is important to talk about the fact that in, this country today, we have somewhere around 13 million peo- ple--some people say as high as 20 million people--who are living here illegally, people employed here illegally.
We all probably know of folks that we think may be working here illegally. We see them on the street corner, we see them working in various positions and jobs, and there is this uneasy and suspicious feeling you have, wondering if those folks are here legally. They probably cannot speak our language, and you just wonder whether or not they have any intention of learning English and assimilating into American society and its common na- tional culture, and whether or not they are truly loyal to the U.S.A. and its basic political institutions.
We all have seen that kind of thing, and we think it is anecdotal. We think it is unique to a particular area, a particular place, just to this restaurant or that particular construction site. But, of course, it is not unique to any locale in this country. It is a phenomenon that we have to understand and address. We must recognize the fact that these people are here, that they are creating problems for our country and its economy, and that we must do something about it .
For the most part, I am sure, they are well intentioned. They came, as we always say, for the same reason that my grandparents came, and for the same reason people came to this country from its inception, and that is to better their lives. No one is suggesting that all of those people who are here are here for nefarious purposes. While such a sugges- tion would, of course, be untrue, it is true that these illegal aliens are taking jobs that Americans could take.
Now I hear often the opposite contention. I have been in various places where the man- tra chanted is something like this: "We have to have illegal immigration into the country because it helps us, it helps the economy, and we have people doing jobs that no one else would do, no American would do.''
Well, there is another part of that statement that could be said, but is seldom said, and that is they are doing jobs that maybe no American would do for the price that someone is willing to pay. That may be true. But I suggest to you that it is not an economic benefit to the United States of America.
In the long run, it does not even help the people who are in the lowest economic catego- ry, who are low-income earners, who are low-skilled people. It does not help them to have millions of people coming into the country, themselves with very few skills, taking those jobs that may be available, and, of course, therefore depressing the wage rate for everybody who works in that particular area.
Now, there is also the issue as to whether or not the influx of low-skilled, low-paid immi- grant workers is productive for the country. There are those who claim that this is the case, arguing that the flow of these immigrants into the country adds to the economy, that the immigrants pay taxes and purchase merchandize, and that we, therefore, are benefited by having so many illegal aliens in the country.
I would suggest that, if there are those who really believe that to be true, they should look at the research that has been done recently.
Certainly Virginia Abernathy comes to mind. She is a professor at Vanderbilt University and has done a lot of work on this issue, trying to determine whether or not, in fact, the country does benefit from having millions of people coming across this border illegally, taking jobs that other Americans could take. And she sums it up in a statement that I would paraphrase in this way. She says that it is indeed true that there are profits to be made by the importation of millions of low-skilled, low-wage workers into the country, but the profits are for a few.
The profits are for the employer. But the costs that we incur for providing the infra- structure necessary to support those folks in terms of schooling, health care, housing, etc. are far greater than what we gain from the taxes paid by the people working in those particular jobs.
For the most part, again, the jobs involved are low-skilled, low-wage jobs. Therefore, of course, the takers of these jobs do not pay very much in income taxes, if anything. They do not pay very much even in sales tax. They buy very little, in comparison, again, to the costs of the infrastructure. Therefore, extra infrastructure costs become essentially a burden to the taxpayers of this country to bear.
The infrastructure is very costly. We are watching hospitals go out of business. We are watching costs increase dramatically for those people who are able to pay in order to take care of all those who cannot pay, but come to the hospital for service, or come into the health care system at any point for service.
There is a federal law which says to hospitals that they must treat anyone in emergency care, regardless of their status in the country. And that is a humane action on our part. It would be acceptable, understandable, and defensible to have policies like that if, in fact, the federal government cared one bit about trying to defend America's borders, if, in fact, the federal government actually attempted to restrict entry into this country to those people who have permission to come, to those people who apply through a consular office or embassy, get a visa, come into the country, and obtain a green card.
There is a legal process to follow in order to come into the country legally. If we would simply restrict entrance into the country to those people who follow the legal process, then you could understand why we could say to hospitals, you must in fact treat them. Then you could understand why the federal government tells all public schools in the United States, in every state, that they must educate the children of people who are here illegally. It is a humane thing to do.
But under the circumstances, when we choose not to defend our own borders, when we choose to essentially ignore any sort of immigration policy enforcement, then it is the height of arrogance to tell the states, their agencies, and their public schools that they must take on this task.
Billions of dollars are being spent by state agencies and local school districts all over the nation trying to pay for health care, education, housing and all of the other infrastructure costs that they incur as a result of our open borders policy. And that is what we have--an open borders policy. And that is exactly what we should call it--an "open borders policy."
Again, I know we do not like to think it, do not want to say it, do not want to suggest it, because there are a lot of people out there who are strongly opposed to--who actually fear--an open borders policy. In response to a candid, honest statement that the U.S.A. has an open borders policy, John Q. Citizen probably cringes and says: What do you mean, open borders policy, man? I am trying to keep my job, and I do not want to have to compete against someone coming across the border who is willing to work for a lot less than I am making.
Maybe it is heartless and cruel for American workers to think in this manner. We may want to tell these people that they should just simply accept the fact that they have to give up their job, or work for a lot less, be what we call underemployed, because, after all, there are millions of people seeking to come into this country who are also poor and looking for a better life. So, there is this dilemma we have. But how do we treat it?
Well, the whole world, the Third World, is waiting to come into the U.S.A.. There are literally billions of people who would like to improve their status in life, and I would like their lives to be improved. No one wants to see people living in poverty. No one wants to see small children dying from diseases that could be cured. No one wants to see that.
I also know that we cannot take care these problems for the billions of people that want to enter the U.S.A..There are not enough resources in this country to try to solve the problems via an open borders policy, to simply open the boarders and say everyone can come. What we have to do is try our best to create economic conditions in countries that are today laboring under such problems so that people will not be forced to leave and seek a life in another country. That is an acceptable and understandable way to do it. It is not understandable or acceptable to ignore the problem, to say to John Q. Citizen, who is losing his job, that he is just simply being hard and xenophobic.
I do not think an American worker is being xenophobic when his or her job is taken away. I think he or she is doing exactly what any of us would do under the circumstances. We would ask our government: Why is this happening? Why are you allowing so many people to come into the country at a time when we have so few jobs available, when the unemployment rate has now reached historic highs?
I cannot answer the question. There is no way that I can tell someone in a rational sense what our policy is and why we are in fact still accepting the concept of open borders. I do not know. If someone can explain it, please let me know, because I have a lot of letters to write to people who constantly write me and tell me of their plight and how they lost their job, and they have lost it to people who have just come across the border illegally; and they are asking what I am going to do about that. I have to explain to them, you know, there really does not seem to be any support in the House of Representatives or in the entire federal government for implementing the kind of measures necessary to protect them.
We are actually taking in approximately a million-and-a-half people a year legally, and probably about that many illegally. This is historic. The United States of America, if we just settled on the legal side of the equasion, is still the most open-hearted country in the world.
The U.S.A. accepts more legal immigration--and certainly more illegal immigration--than any other country in the world. As open-hearted we are, acceptance of so many immi- grants, legal and illegal, is nevertheless to our detriment.
Massive immigration is not a beneficial thing. It is not helping our economy. The conten- tion that massive immigration is beneficial, that it helps our economy, is an old saw--a familiar, hackneyed saying that is simply not true. Massive immigration is helping a few people. It is helping a few corporations. That is true. But it is not helping the men and women who have been here all of their lives, or who have become citizens of this country through a legal process and who are unemployed today because of our policy of open borders.
There are several programs that the federal government runs, visa programs, that are designed to bring more people in, to do jobs that, again, we are told cannot be done by American citizens. Would my colleagues believe that we are told that there are millions of jobs going begging in the high-tech industry?
Who would believe that? I ask my colleagues, who knows of a job available in the high- tech industries that is going begging? If my colleagues know about jobs that are availa- ble, let me know. I have a lot of people in my congressional district who are unemployed, and many of them have been unemployed for over a year. They ended up being victims of that bubble which burst in the high-tech industries, and they are looking for jobs. They would love to get reemployed in those industries. But most of them are doing something else now entirely, if they are working at all.
For my friend and neighbor, it has been almost two years. He is doing some data entry for us, and he is driving a limousine at night. The situation in which he finds himself is happening to many others throughout the entire country. It is happening, of course, be- cause people are trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. And they would love to get a job back in the high-tech industries. In spite of this fact, we are en- couraging people to come from other countries to the United States for the purpose of taking jobs in the high-tech industry. These are called H-1b visa recipients.
Now, these are folks who are not coming over here to take jobs which "no one else will take.'' Although we are told that is why they are coming--to take jobs no Americans will take--and this is supposed to be the reason for and idea behind the H-1b program, as well as something else called the L-1 visa program, it is not true. The rationale for the H-1b and L-1 visa programs is simply untrue The people coming in under these visa programs are taking American jobs, displacing American workers by the hundreds of thousands. There are literally millions of folks in the U.S.A. today holding these kinds of visas.
Now, we asked the Immigration a Naturalization Service: How many aliens are here? But no one at INS really knows. No one even knows how many people in this country have come here through the H-1b visa program. The new Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service does not know. The Department of Labor does not know. No one in government anywhere can give me an accurate number, and the reason they cannot is because they do not keep those numbers.
All that the people in government know is how many visas they hand out. About 195,000 visas a year we have handed out for several years now. That is just the H-1b program, and these folks do not go home when they lose their jobs, although they are supposed to. They stay.
So, I am saying that it is now approaching a million people, if not more, who are here under the H-1b program, H-1b visa recipients who are taking jobs in the high-tech in- dustries--jobs that supposedly "no Americans would take.'' Does anybody really buy that?
What we know is that they are being given these visas because they will work for less. It is a cheap labor program.
Now, let us just say it. If that is the program we want to run, let us tell Americans that is the program. Let us not even hide it under visa titles like H-1b and L-1. Nobody has the slightest idea what H-1b or L-1 means. I will tell you and others who are listening what it means. It is a cheap labor program. Employers want to pay less for labor. They know there are people outside the country who are willing to work for less, so let us get them in here.
The Organization for the Rights of American Workers (TORAW) states that, in the year 2000, there were 355,000 H-1b visas issued, justin the year 2000. The cap for H-1b visas in that year was 115,000. That means that 240,000 received H-1b visas through loop- holes and extensions. In 2001, 384,191 H-1b visas were issued. The cap was 107,500. That means that 276,691 people received H-1b visas through loopholes and extensions. Thus, the total amount of people who came here using H-1b visas in 2000 and 2001 to- taled 739,796.
This program, they told us, would be short-lived. They told us that the program was going to be there only in order to take up the slack, a slack created by the booming economy, in which we had so many jobs going begging. Has anybody heard that line of propaganda lately? When was the last time we heard anything about a booming economy, anything about jobs going begging? But 739,000 people were brought in here on H-1b visas in 2000 and 2001.
There is plenty of evidence that major American companies like Bank of America, Texas Instruments, Intel, General Electric, and Microsoft are actively recruiting H-1b visa holders, instead of American high-tech workers. Does anybody believe that there are no Americans who are capable of handling high-tech jobs? Does anyone believe that Amer- icans, the highest skilled workers, with the greatest educational system in the world, touted constantly for the ability to produce the best engineers, the best people in this high-tech environment, are not capable of performing these jobs? Does any one believe that Americans cannot do the jobs, that we have to go to India or someplace else to get the folks over here to take those jobs? Must we import foreigners to take the jobs from us?
The San Francisco Business Times reported in November of 2002 that the Bank of America was eliminating 900 jobs by the year's end in its information technology opera- tion. To add insult to injury, some of the laid-off workers were reportedly required to train their Indian counterparts in order to receive their severance packages. This is a common practice throughout the country.
According to a survey by the Denver Business Journal, 66.5 percent of American high- tech workers who responded said they took salary reductions in 2002, and more than 71.5 percent of them expect pay cuts in 2003. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE),. a company can replace an American engineer who gets paid $70,000 annually with a Hungarian who would earn $25,690 in Hungary or a Russian who gets paid $14,000 for that job in Russia. This puts companies in the position to or- chestrate and control salaries. The overall effect is to decrease the salaries of all high- tech positions.
Now, we say, well, is that not appropriate? Should they not do that? Well, again, that is a policy decision that this government needs to make, and tell American citizens what we are doing. Again, all I am asking is for truth in advertising. H-1b is not a special visa program intended to deal with a special situation. The program is not designed just to bring people in here who are in great need and are willing to do jobs which must be done, but which our people will not do.
This program is a policy designed to obtain cheap labor. It ia a cheap labor policy, and that is what we should call it.
In the last three years, according to the Alumni Consulting Group, the average high-tech professional salary has dropped radically, in some cases, up to 50 percent. An online search today of the three most popular high-tech job search sites, hotjobs.com, monster. com, and dice.com, showed that they were full of jobs being offered to H-1b holders.
A new problem emerging is the L-1 visa. The L-1 visa program allows intra-company transfers of foreign nationals who are company executives and managers or employees with specialized knowledge of the company's products or services. It was never intended to allow companies to replace American professional employees with lower-wage foreign nationals, but guess what? That is, of course, exactly what is happening, and on a mas- sive scale.
NBC News reported, on May 8 of this year, that white collar computer consultants are losing out to cheaper foreign competition. Companies are outsourcing much of their technology and customer service work to foreign companies with the goal of reducing costs and increasing profits. I would suspect that these foreign companies are using L-1 visas to bring their manpower here to the United States.
As I said before, the L-1 visa program was intended to permit multinational companies to transfer foreign nationals who were company executives and managers or employees with specialized knowledge in the company's products and operations. Instead, it is being used to allow U.S. companies with offshore subsidiaries to bring in lower-wage IT work- ers. These companies are circumventing the congressionally-mandated safeguards and rules imposed under the H-1b program. And our government knows it. This is not news to anybody inside the U.S. Department of Labor or inside the administration. They just do not care.
In 2001, 328,480 L-1 visas were issued, which is an increase of 11 percent. Thus, the total amount of people who came here under L-1 visas in 2000 and 2001 was 623,138.
Business Week reported, on March 10 of this year, that L-1 visas were being used in- stead of H-1b visas by India's top two IT consulting firms. Half of Tata Consultancy Services' American-based workforce are here on L-1 visas, some 5,000 foreign IT pro- fessionals. Infosys has 3,000 IT professionals here on L-1 visas, 3,000.
Now, remember, these are supposed to be people with specialized skills, and they are overseas, in the company headquarters in Bombay. However, there is something so special about their ability that the company has to bring them over here to work in its subsidiary. The company brings these supposedly specialized employees over here under the L-1 visa program. But, of course, the company is not just bringing over only those employees with specialized skills. The company is bringing anybody and everybody it can get into the country, anyboby and every body it can get over here to replace Americans-- Americans who wind up driving limousines at night.
Siemens in Florida contracted to have 20 of its American IT professionals replaced by foreign nationals brought in by Tata Consultancy Services. Tata used L-1 visas to import Indians to work for one-third of the salary of Americans laid off.
A member of my staff is a trained IT professional. Before he started working for me, he was a victim of the very problem I am talking about. When he asked his former company why he and the rest of his IT team had been laid off, the company spokesman stated the company was moving its project to India. The company is doing this because the average Indian software engineer makes 88 percent less than the U.S. software engineer.
Companies are not the only ones guilty of this transgression. The State of New Mexico paid a firm in India $6 million to develop an online unemployment claim system. The State of New Jersey called a call center in India to handle calls from their welfare re- cipients. In New Jersey, calls go to India. The State of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections utilized an offshore company to develop its mission critical systems.
All of this shifting of jobs offshore has significantly slowed the recovery of our own economy, and it is something that we should tell our people about. This is something we should be truthful about. And these are all high-tech jobs I have been talking about re- cently. But, lets go back to my original discussion about the people coming in here with low-skill, low-wage backgrounds and how much we supposedly need them.
I remember distinctly an article I read--six to eight months ago--in the Rocky Mountain Newspaper, in Denver, Colorado. It was an article about a job that had been posted by the Luna Restaurant, a great Mexican restaurant in north Denver. The reason why the posting of a job became a news story, rather than just an ad in the paper, is because it was a job for a $3-an-hour waiter, and that one job posting produced 600 applicants the first day.
It is possible, I suppose, that every one of the 600 applicants that day were illegal aliens, but I do not think so. Maybe a large number were, but I think a lot of the people who applied for that job were American citizens who needed the work.
So this old canard about the immigrants coming into the U.S.A. to take the jobs no Amer- icans will take is just that--a canard, a falsehood. We employ these falsehoods in order to maintain open borders. Both parties support the concept. The Democrats support it be- cause it adds to the potential pool of voters for the Democratic Party. The Republicans support it because it supports cheap labor.
If that is the policy that our government is undertaking, then it is simply the policy we should tell our constituents about. We should explain it to them. When my colleagues get a letter like this, handwritten, three pages long, talking about what happened to them, how they were displaced by foreign workers, we should write back and say it is the policy of this government to displace you, to move you into a lower economic income category because we believe in cheap labor and we believe that the politics of open borders helps our party, in this case the Democrats. In the case of the Republicans, it is the cheap labor side of things.
That is what we should tell people. That is how we should respond, because that is the truth of the matter. When we have people bring bills to the floor designed to do some- thing about jobs, responding to the demand which we hear over and over again, the de- mand to do something about jobs, I just hope that we will think about one thing we could do. There is something that we could do tomorrow to improve the quality of life for mil- lions and millions of American citizens. There is something that we could do tomorrow that could actually add maybe 10 million jobs for American citizens, and that is to enforce our immigration laws. Stop people from coming in here illegally and deport the people who are here illegally today. If we did this, we would automatically create 10 million jobs for American citizens.
So, I want that discussed every single time there is a "jobs'' bill brought in front of this Congress, because there is an easy way to do it. There is a moral way to do it. It is im- moral for us to, in fact, displace American workers with cheap labor from outside our country. It is immoral for us to tell Americans that we do not have an open borders policy when, in fact, we do have such a policy, and there are ramifications to it, deep, serious ramifications to open borders.
If that is what the country wants, if 50 percent plus one of the House of Representatives and 50 percent plus one of the Senate vote in favor of a bill providing for an open bor- ders policy and the President of the United States signs it, that is what we will get. But an open borders policy is what we are now geting without legislation providing for it, getting in a de facto way. We are getting it without ever bringing it to the attention of the Ameri- can public. We are all just going to look around one day and say, gosh, what happened to our economy? What happened to the country with the highest standard of living in the world? What happened to my job? At that point, it will, of course, be too late.
I hope that we will be more truthful in the discussion of this issue, and I hope that, for all of our constituents' sake, we will begin to uphold our law, defend our borders, and effec- tively enforce U.S. immigration law.
Still More on Immigration & Illegal Aliens
Thomas G. Tancredo is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Sixth Congressional District
of Colorado. Congressman Tancredo presented the foregoing statement as a speech on the floor of the House on June 18, 2003.
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