For the past few years, illegal immigration has been a hot button topic. In history, whenever a society suffers from low economic growth (or none at all), foreign individuals are often blamed for people’s inability to find work. Regardless of economic facts, societies have a hard time understanding how to grow without reverting to a “get rid of people not from here” mentality.
Despite the current belief that illegal immigrants are stealing American jobs, the truth is….they aren’t. Today in America, there is a huge labor shortage in the fields of construction, agriculture, and foodservice. For example, the “combined restaurant and accommodations sector in May had 700,000 vacant positions, for a job-openings rate of 5.1%, the highest since 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).” In addition, a “survey last year by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 86% of construction firms were struggling to fill openings for carpenters, electricians and other trades.”
That’s right, there are plenty of American jobs going unfilled in today’s job market.
Another myth surrounding illegal immigration is that Mexican workers drive down wages. "In 2015, the average wage for roofers was $17.65 per hour, according to the BLS.“ Due to the lack of labor, roofing companies have raised wages. Now, potential roofers can make over $20 an hour in today’s market. These rising costs and labor shortages have led to slow business growth, and the real reason America’s economy is stagnant.
With wages increasing and jobs in excess, what’s the reason behind low Mexican immigration? Well here are a few answers:
For starters, low birth rates have affected Mexican immigration, both legal and illegal. "For the past 20 years, Mexican families have averaged just over two children, compared with nearly seven in the late 1960s.” The percentage of Mexicans most likely to emigrate (i.e. those aged 15 to 29) are lower than it was in the 1990s and early 2000s. In addition, the Obama administration (despite Trump’s rhetoric), has been the toughest on illegal immigration in the history of America. According to Pew Research, the Obama Administration has deported a record three million people since 2009. To put it another way, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was estimated that 500,000 Mexicans were entering the country illegally. Last year that number was around 100,000. That number does not include the fact that most illegal immigrants return home. “Apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol of Mexicans and other foreigners entering illegally declined to 337,117 last year, the least since 1971.”
“Mass migration from Mexico is over,” says Pia Orrenius, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who studies migration. “Low-skilled labor will never be as plentiful again.”
Although building a wall will help with illegal Mexican immigration, it won’t do anything to help grow the economy or save tax payers dollars to the extent people are hoping. The simple fact is that Mexican immigration isn’t as big of an issue as it once was.
Currently there is a huge push to grant more temporary guest worker passes to incoming individuals. The program allows businesses “to bring in seasonal workers if they prove domestic labor isn’t available to take the jobs, and they provide housing and transportation. Last year, some 250,000 workers came to the U.S. on an H-2A, a 420% jump since 2006, the first year for which data is available.”
Regardless of what happens in the future, solving illegal immigration will not do as much for America as people think especially when you realize that America is currently at an almost 50 year low.