Protest rally against illegal immigrationAs chief executive of a country emerging from a brutal recession, President Barack Obama faces a host of pressing issues. But two long-term problems have morphed into crises and have come to a head lately -- immigration and joblessness. What's not always so obvious is how closely linked the two issues have become.

In a July 1 speech, the President took the immigration problem by the horns, calling the much maligned Arizona immigration law "ill conceived," and he reminded Americans that they live in a country of immigrants.

Polls, however reveal that a majority of Americans are on the other side of the President and support the bill, which requires police to question the immigration status of people they stop or arrest for other reasons.

Touching a Nerve

Beaten down from a long, hard economic downturn that has robbed many of their livelihood, the public is sending clear signals that during tough economic times like this, America can't afford so many illegal immigrants.

Indeed, a recent TIPP poll released July 12 showed that 51% of Americans are in favor of the Arizona's immigration law. Before that, a Quinnipiac University poll released in June also showed that 51% of American voters approved the Arizona law, and 48% say they want their state to pass a similar law. Rasmussen Reports found 61% people in favor of passing such a law in their state.

Arizona's new approach to immigration clearly touched a nerve when it was signed by Governor Jan Brewer in April. Civil and human rights organizations have condemned the law, saying it will lead to racial profiling. Cities from Seattle to Boston have called for a boycott of Arizona and urged citizens not to travel to the state. Conventions and conferences were canceled or moved to locations outside of Arizona. And the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the law from taking effect on July 29.

It's a Pocketbook Issue


Still, no matter what happens next, for now, the American public favors a crackdown on illegal immigrants. People in the border states are particularly fed up with the increase in drug-related crimes.

However, the rest of America has another reason for the rise in such sentiment, which is their pocketbook. Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the TIPP polls, says the link between the 8 million jobs lost during the Great Recession and the hostile attitude toward immigrants cannot be ignored.

TIPP, which is a polling partner of Investors' Business Daily and Christian Science Monitor, found anti-immigrant attitudes to be especially prevalent among households that are job-sensitive, that is, where "at least one member is looking for work or is concerned that a member might be laid off, or both," according to Mayur. Among these households, 50% say American wages have gone down or have been undercut because of both legal and illegal immigration, compared with only 31% of homes that haven't been affected by unemployment.

Picking up on popular sentiment, politicians have been quick to draw the link between the two. "There are 15 million unemployed workers in America and 8 million illegal immigrants in the labor force. We could cut unemployment in half simply by reclaiming the jobs taken by illegal workers," says Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

Bigger Impact on Low-Income, Less-Educated Workers

A June poll from the Pew Research Center underscores TIPP's findings. In this poll, 50% say immigrants are a burden on the U.S. because "they take our jobs, housing and health care," an increase of 10 percentage points of respondents holding this view since November 2009.

A closer look at the Pew data reveals that the fears are highest among lower-income groups. In both political parties, anti-immigrant sentiment is stronger among those with no college experience than among those with.

Andrew Sum, a professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, says these fears aren't unfounded, especially among the lower-income groups. Sum says his research shows it's not true that new immigrants take only the jobs that Americans don't want. In fact, his studies find that illegal immigrants lead to a high level of job displacement among men under 25, and especially for young adults with no postsecondary education.

"Illegal immigrants compete with younger workers with less schooling," says Sum. "And if you and I live in an area with a large share of immigrants, your young adults will see an above-average share of jobs displaced by illegal immigrants. It's not a surprise that it's led to a toxic situation."

Want to Work on a Farm?

To be sure, some farmers say America has no option but to rely on the immigrant workforce to harvest fruits and vegetables. According to the Labor Department, 70% of farm workers are born abroad.

The United Farm Workers union points to statistics that show half of farm workers are illegal. It says that's because Americans aren't willing to take jobs on farms because of the tough working conditions and low wages. To showcase the situation, the union has started a website called www.takeourjobs.org and urged all unemployed Americans to apply for a job.

The UFW's point is that immigrants don't steal farm workers' jobs because no American want them. Since it launched on June 24, the site has received 8,485 inquiries, says Maria Machuca, communications director at the union. Of those, only three have pursued and taken a job.

Fixing One Problem Will Ease the Other


President Obama is aware of the shortcomings and arguments on both sides. "Because [undocumented workers] live in the shadows, they're vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses who pay them less than the minimum wage or violate worker safety rules -- thereby putting companies who follow those rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime, at an unfair [dis]advantage," says the President. "Into this breach, states like Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands. Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable."

Because of the Arizona law, the president might have been forced to deal with the immigration issue earlier in his term than he probably wanted to. And he has taken on the issue at a time when the state of the economy has made Americans ever more nervous about immigrants stealing their jobs and working for less pay.

The bottom line is that turning the tide in unemployment is even more important when viewed through the prism of illegal immigration. Indeed, even though it isn't as obvious, a U.S. economy with more jobs could help defuse an increasingly volatile immigration issue.

Editor's Note:
This is the third part of "The Jobless Effect" series. Also see:

"Is the Real Unemployment Rate 16.5%, 22$ or. . .?"

"Unemployment Is Fueling Independent Voters' Anger"


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Adrian

"Dear ___________,

Seems the Lehman investors will have to wait some time before the distribution of funds from this asset !!!!
We have been advised that, contrary to an article that was published recently, the owner of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua has not offered the property for sale nor are they planning to market the property for sale this year. When they do offer the hotel for sale, it will be a national effort led by a national brokerage team. They are keeping a list of inquiries that will be forwarded to the broker when a broker is retained and the broker will contact them at that time. You may send your contact information to Nan Molofsky of Lamco LLC at nan.molofsky@lamcollc.com for inclusion on the list; please do not attempt to call Ms. Molofsky.

March 15 2012 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adrian

"Dear ___________,

Seems the Lehman investors will have to wait some time before the distribution of funds from this asset !!!!
We have been advised that, contrary to an article that was published recently, the owner of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua has not offered the property for sale nor are they planning to market the property for sale this year. When they do offer the hotel for sale, it will be a national effort led by a national brokerage team. They are keeping a list of inquiries that will be forwarded to the broker when a broker is retained and the broker will contact them at that time. You may send your contact information to Nan Molofsky of Lamco LLC at nan.molofsky@lamcollc.com for inclusion on the list; please do not attempt to call Ms. Molofsky.

March 15 2012 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adrian

"Dear ___________,

Seems the Lehman investors will have to wait some time before the distribution of funds from this asset !!!!
We have been advised that, contrary to an article that was published recently, the owner of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua has not offered the property for sale nor are they planning to market the property for sale this year. When they do offer the hotel for sale, it will be a national effort led by a national brokerage team. They are keeping a list of inquiries that will be forwarded to the broker when a broker is retained and the broker will contact them at that time. You may send your contact information to Nan Molofsky of Lamco LLC at nan.molofsky@lamcollc.com for inclusion on the list; please do not attempt to call Ms. Molofsky.

March 15 2012 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Philip Smeeton

When America invited immigration it was from Europe. After the American civil war freed slaves were invited to return to Africa. Illegal immigrants are invited by no-one.

October 04 2011 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Raul A. Ramos MD

Send them back, they do not pay taxes all their money go to Mexico..

April 20 2011 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
merlinhun

I.C.E, raids 24/7 !!!!!!!!!!!!!

February 10 2011 at 10:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kathleen

I feel that not only are the illegals taking our jobs .... they usually are paid in cash money .... and do not claim any of the money earned. They have so many benefits .... just look at the welfare system. It is a system which allows money to be given to those who have children and do not marry. It not only supplys the funding ... it encourages the behavior,more children, more money!. If you have ever stood behind someone who whips out their Lone Star Card( I live in Texas) .... they have better groceries than I do ( a 64 yr. old) and I have to use coupons, buy what is on sale and buy the store brands to survive. These people receive help buying their food ... then their children in our school programs are still given free breakfast and lunches, while our children have to pay with the money we work for. I think this system is so corrupt and a magnet to all those who find our system a gold mine.I believe in helping others ... but not to the exclusion of our rights and entitlements that we have paid for. Now if we want to cut the national debt ... lets look at all these entitlements that are given to those who have not earned them and have paid nothing into our system .... maybe then you( our government) could leave our Social Security benefits alone ... which is being bankrupted supporting this type of government spending. I am so tired of the misuse of Americans money. Someone needs to be held responsible for it .... instead of requesting more and more from us. The well is drying up and I don't know if they are smart enough to see it. I feel so sorry for our children. I say " GOD BLESS AMERICANS" for they are AMERICA!!!!

February 10 2011 at 5:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply