The pro-illegal immigration lobby (comprised of Democrats, US-hating multiculturalist leftists, Latino racial activists and big business Republicans) constantly repeats the ridiculous mantra that the US economy is dependent
on cheap labor provided by millions of illegal immigrants (read: Mexicans and other Latinos). The US would experience economic disaster, perhaps even collapse were the illegals to be deported. This chorus is repeated the entire lobby, from Latino street activists right up to the President of the United States, so loudly it’s become like summer cicadas buzzing in the background. But as Rich Lowry notes in the National Review, it’s a ridiculous proposition
If low-skill workers were key to economic growth, Mexico would be an economic powerhouse, and impoverished Americans would be slipping south over the Rio Grande.
The National Research Council reports that an immigrant to the U.S. without a high-school diploma — whether legal or illegal — consumes $89,000 more in governmental services than he pays in taxes during his lifetime. An immigrant with only a high-school diploma is a net cost of $31,000. Eighty percent of illegal immigrants have no more than a high-school degree, and 60 percent have less than a high-school degree.
Steve Camarota of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies estimates that illegal immigrants cost the federal government $10 billion a year. State and local governments lose even more. Illegals pay some taxes, but not enough to cover governmental expenses like Medicaid and treatment for the uninsured.
According to Camarota, if illegal immigrants were legalized, their net annual cost to the federal government would only increase, tripling to $30 billion a year. Immigrant workers don't earn enough to pay much in taxes, while they qualify for all sorts of governmental assistance. As they become legal, they will get even more assistance — the benefits that they get from the Earned Income Tax Credit, for instance, would increase by a factor of 10.
Whatever benefit illegals provide to the economy in general must be minuscule. All workers without a high-school education — illegal and otherwise — account for only 3 percent of economic output. Even if illegal immigrants were dominant in low-skill industries, their broader impact would be small. But they aren't dominant, and that includes job categories associated with immigrants. Nearly 60 percent of cabdrivers are native-born. In only four of 473 job classifications are immigrants a majority of the workers.
But draining the budgets of government assistance programs isn’t the worst effect of illegal immigrants. The illegal tide is quietly devastating the American working class, destroying any hope low- and un-skilled American workers have of achieving financial security.
The U.S. has an ample supply of native-born workers with a high-school education or less, but Camarota suggests they are being pushed out of the labor force by the influx of illegals. From 2000 to 2005, the percentage of high-school dropouts holding a job dropped from 53 to 48, and this trend was particularly pronounced in states with the highest levels of immigration. Illegals compete with the very workers least equipped to thrive in our economy.
The social consequences of this are staggering. The export of US manufacturing capacity and well-meaning, but ultimately disastrous, US welfare programs had already greatly contributed to the establishment of a permanent underclass among America’s poor. Now the flood of illegals is driving wages of low- and un-skilled labor jobs down so drastically that American workers are simply giving up. This is a recipe for future social and political catastrophe, but no one in Washington seems to care.
Oddly, you might think that with so many Latinos scrambling across the US border, relieving their native governments of the financial burden of taking care of them, and sending back many billions of dollars to relatives still at home, America’s image in Latin America would be improving. But no. Indeed, rabid anti-Americanism has been on the rise for at least the last decade in Latin and South America and has spawned increasingly hostile governments across the region
It is one of the most important and yet largely untold stories of our world in 2006. George W Bush has lost Latin America.
While the Bush administration has been fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, relations between the United States and the countries of Latin America have become a festering sore - the worst for years.
Virtually anyone paying attention to events in Venezuela and Nicaragua in the north to Peru and Bolivia further south, plus in different ways Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, comes to the same conclusion: there is a wave of profound anti-American feeling stretching from the Texas border to the Antarctic.
The rise in leftist governments in Latin and South America is largely tied to the decline of traditional European-descended elite classes in those countries. Rising to replace those classes are the indigenous peoples – descended of Indian and mix race stock – who are joyfully embracing radical socialist theory as a means of redressing what they perceive as centuries of discrimination against them. The manifest evidence of the economic and moral bankruptcy of socialism does little dissuade the newly ascendant indigenous radicals, who have become emboldened by the rhetoric of the radical left.
The Bush administration, consumed by Iraq, has largely ignored the phenomena. This has left an opening for America’s emerging rival, China. The Chinese, motivated solely by realpolitik, have moved quickly in Africa, the Middle East and South America to build a network of developing alliances designed to satiate Chinese economic needs and weaken US influence. While Washington obsesses over the lack of security in Baghdad, Beijing has forging alliances in America’s backyard
– without any resistance from the US.
Under the slogan of "peaceful rising", China is selling itself to the developing world as an alternative model for ending poverty.
The pitch is now winning an audience in Latin America, and Washington is despatching the assistant secretary of state responsible for the region, Thomas Shannon, to Beijing to find out what is going on.
His aim is to negotiate the precise line which China must not cross in creating its new strategic alliance with Latin America, which has seen billions of dollars of Chinese money earmarked for infrastructure, transport, energy and defence projects there.
"We want to make sure we don't get our wires crossed," said one official arranging the talks.
The spectre of an encroaching China is made worse by a string of elections which has produced populist and US-sceptic, left-wing leaders. During the Cold War they would probably never have survived in office.
The latest may be retired army commander Ollanta Humala, who is leading the opinion polls in the Peruvian presidential election due on 9 April.
"We're concerned about the leftist countries that are dealing with China," says Congressman Dan Burton, the Republican chairman of the sub-committee on the Western Hemisphere.
"It's extremely important that we don't let a potential enemy of the US become a dominant force in this part of the world."
Despite White House rhetoric, the danger from Islamic fanatics is dwarfed by the threat that China poses to the US. Islamists must buy or borrow their weapons from advanced nations since they make NOTHING of their own. China, by contrast, is a manufacturing colossus. In fact, most of what China now makes, the US once manufactured, before it allowed its manufacturing base to be exported in the name of higher profits and Washington’s distorted idea of free trade. China’s despotic leaders have clearly and repeatedly expressed the intention of driving US influence out of Asia, and expanding their own globally. Washington’s response to this has been muted. Worse, blindly following its Wilsonian gamble in Iraq, the US has made promoting democracy its central policy goal. While admirable on its face, it put the US into a strategic bind by making any dealings with less-than-democratic regimes difficult. During the Cold War, the US knew better. Washington understood that democracy was a relatively rare phenomena left its dealings with various regimes to be decided solely on the basis of advancing US interests. Hence the US could deal with democratic Europeans as well as despots like Suharto and Marcos. Such alliances may have been morally ambiguous, but they promoted the greater goal of containing communism and protecting America’s long-term interests, which must always trump promoting the welfare of other peoples in American foreign policy. Such reality-based thinking apparently has little place in the current US administration.
Permitting Chinese influence to spread in Latin and South America, however, could prove highly damaging in the future. This is the time to contain it, while Washington enjoys a vastly superior hand. But the administration, unwilling to defend America’s borders, has been equally unwilling to defend American strategic interests in our hemisphere.
Which brings us back to the illegal alien problem. Central and South American governments once feared and respected the US. They knew all too well that American might could be used against them if they ran afoul of US interests. But they have watched America’s borders crumble before waves of their unarmed citizens. They see American politicians cravenly pandering to mobs of their citizens marching in American streets. They sense America’s weakness and growing inability to defend itself, its culture or its interests. And they realize the potency of the growing illegal population in the US – its ability to influence US politics and US politicians. Mexico’s leaders openly mock the US and make demands, as do other Central and South American leaders. Fear of American opinion or response is noticeably absent. Not surprisingly, in a region where strength is admired, America’s open borders policy has bred only contempt for the US.
As radical leftist and racial politics spread south of America’s borders, those politics are likely to be imported to the US, carried by the illegal aliens Washington has no desire to stop. Those ideas will incubate in increasingly insulated Hispanic communities inside the US, communities that are linguistically and ethnically sealed off from the dominant US culture, and who evince no desire to assimilate. Recently Hispanics showed their growing power by marching by the hundreds of thousands in major American cities in open defiance and disrespect of American law. The Mexican flag has been waved proudly by hundreds of thousands of immigrants, along with posters insisting that the US belongs to them and that Americans are occupying their land. As their numbers grow, so will their influence. So will the damage to the US.