Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Hearing on New Jobs in Recession and Recovery

By:  Elton Gallegly
Date: March 10, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Good morning. Six years ago, this Subcommittee held a hearing entitled "New Jobs in Recession and Recovery: Who Are Getting Them and Who Are Not." John Hostettler, a former Chairman of this subcommittee, stated that:

There is a sense among many Americans that the job opportunities they and parents once enjoyed are no longer available to them and their children …. We will hear from the authors of two studies that have both concluded that all of the increase in employment in the United States over the last few years has been attributable to large increases in the number of employed immigrants, while the number of employed natives has actually declined.

Six years later, we are again in a "jobless" recovery. And we will again hear about studies finding that all the net new jobs being created are going to immigrant workers.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a strong proponent of legal immigration. I am equally a strong opponent of illegal immigration. We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws.

Many of the studies we are going to hear about today do not make that distinction because the methodology and data to do so does not exist. But I ask the panelists, whenever possible, to make that distinction. It's an important distinction.

For instance, The Center for Immigration Studies has found that in 2008 and 2009, over 2 million new immigrants settled in the United States. At the same time, over 8 million jobs were lost. What the study doesn't note is that of the 2 million new immigrants, at least one-third were illegal immigrants.

The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University has found that between 2008 and 2010, the average number of employed persons in America decreased by over 6 million while over a million immigrants who arrived between 2008 and 2010 found jobs. The Center has also found that the percentage of teenagers employed has plummeted so far so fast that last June less than 30 percent were employed for the first time in the post-World War II era. Many of those jobs that students used to work -- in the fast-food and landscaping industry, for example -- are now held by illegal immigrants.

We in Congress have an obligation to look after the well-being of American workers. We have a special obligation to look after the most vulnerable American workers, those with lower levels of education who have borne the brunt of today's harsh job market. Therefore, we must ask: what is the driving force here? Is there a connection between the loss of jobs by natives and the increasing number of employed immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants?

At today's hearing, we will look at these issues. We will evaluate the reasons why the employment of American workers keeps decreasing in the midst of ever-increasing numbers of immigrant workers. We will examine the roles that America's immigration policy and immigration enforcement practices play in this outcome. We certainly don't want to be here six years from now again asking why there are fewer and fewer jobs for American workers.