Chairman Smith: There is no more important issue this Subcommittee can address than that of preserving jobs for American workers.
The threshold question is, how can we best align our immigration policy with the needs of American workers? How can we best meet the needs of those workers who are unemployed or underemployed? The answer is not to keep adding to the supply of low-skilled workers during a severe recession and its aftermath.
The combined rate of joblessness and underemployment for native-born teens is over 40%. The rate for native workers without a high school degree -- over 32%. For native-born workers with no more than a high school degree -- over 20%.
How often do we read about the long-term unemployed or the working poor or single mothers with no mention of the serious impact of immigration on their employment, wages, and working conditions? We cannot ignore the adverse impact of mass low-skilled immigration and the lack of enforcement of our immigration laws.
At the Subcommittee's last hearing, we focused on the negative effects of cheap foreign labor on American minorities. Let me mention another group of Americans who are especially hard it -- teenagers. In June of 2000, a majority of the nation's teens were employed. Ten years later, in June of 2010, less than 29% of the nation's teens were employed.
We need to protect the jobs and wages of struggling Americans and legal immigrants. This includes teenagers new to the workforce and seasoned workers with years of valuable experience. We should design our immigration policy so that it enhances, rather than diminishes, opportunities for American workers. I look forward to today's hearing.