It’s a widespread belief, one reinforced by public officials including President Bush: “Illegal immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t do.”
But it’s being challenged in a five-year study that concludes millions of undereducated Americans are without work in a labor market oversaturated by illegal immigrants.
Steven Camarota, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that favors reduced immigration, released the findings Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
The study calls into question the theory that America is desperately short of underskilled workers, Camarota said. More importantly, he added, the research concluded that illegal immigration had a direct effect on job loss for native-born workers.
Employers who hire from the vast pool of illegal immigrants avoid paying workers’ compensation, health benefits, Social Security and a whole slew of labor law requirements, he said.
From backbreaking jobs in the meatpacking industry to janitorial work, the research showed that from 2000 to 2005, participation in the labor force by U.S.-born adults without a high school degree fell from 59 percent to 56 percent. Among U.S.-born adults with a high school degree, participation dropped from 78 percent to 75 percent, according to the study.
During the same time, the number of adult immigrant workers with a high school degree or less increased by 1.5 million people . . . rising from 15.5 percent of the work force to 17.4 percent. In a hot political climate where “guest-worker” programs are being debated on Capitol Hill and anti-immigrant groups are protesting outside day labor centers across Southern California, the study’s release comes as immigration is taking center stage.