Jobs disaster continues, but Congress debates increasing immigration?
The most underreported news story of the current year and of President Obama's second term is the continuing jobs crisis, and the determination of both the President and the Congress to ignore it in trying to enact big increases in future immigration and an amnesty of 11 million or more immigrants illegally present.
The official unemployment rate for May actually ticked upward to 7.6% from 7.5% in April. The employment/population ratio has been flat, around a low 58.5% through the recession.
That's officially 12 million of our fellow Americans still looking but unable to find a job, which doesn't include millions of other Americans either underemployed or who have given up trying to find a job after years of unemployment.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is beginning debate on the Schumer-Rubio so-called immigration reform that will more than triple the number of legal immigrants over the next decade to 33 million from current legal immigration of about 1 million each year, and will also increase the numbers of temporary workers allowed to enter and work.
The proposed bill will invite future immigrants to violate U.S. immigration law by providing amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. A similar amnesty was enacted in 1986 which had that effect.
Why is Congress ignoring the interests of suffering unemployed and underemployed Americans? There are two reasons: money and politics. Employers and business interests want the largest possible pool of labor to drive down their labor costs. They are actively lobbying (and making campaign contributions to) members of Congress to support the legislation to expand the labor pool.
Elected officials hope that a pathway to citizenship for more immigrants will lead to more votes for them and their party in the future. Democrats are hoping that immigrants will reward their efforts with a permanent majority. Some Republicans have been persuaded that the permanent majority for Democrats is likely to happen unless they, too, fall in line and support the bill in the hope of attracting a fraction of the future immigrant vote for Republicans.
While immigrant voters as a group are as politically divided as everyone else, it is true that Hispanic and Asian voters have been skewing Democratic in recent elections, which is the basis for the hope for a permanent Democratic majority. There's enough truth to that possibility to wonder how Republicans could believe they help themselves by joining Democrats to enact the Schumer-Rubio bill.
It's also true that no one feels the impact of competing with new immigrant labor more than the immigrants who arrived earlier. So speculation on how new voters will vote is just that, speculation.
Meanwhile, Sherry Lockhart, 53, of Enumclaw, Washington, is having her jobless benefits slashed as a result of federal spending cuts. She tells the New York Times, "I just feel I've done my best over the years, and I feel like I haven't failed the system. The system has failed me, and millions more."