Hope Is Despair and Change Is Joblessness

Monday, 14 May 2012 12:44 PM

By James Walsh

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President Barack Obama promised the Hispanic community comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in the White House. That didn’t happen. He still promises comprehensive immigration reform but now not until his second term in the White House.

His broken promises weigh heavily on many Hispanics.

The president, finding himself in a surprisingly heated re-election campaign, chooses to ignore the 70 percent of Americans who welcome legal immigrants but who oppose amnesty and a free pass to citizenship for those breaking U.S. immigration laws.

childimmigration.jpg
A child listens to President Obama speak on immigration in 2011.
(Getty Images)
How many foreign nationals are in the United States illegally? The guesstimate ranges from 11 million to 36 million men, women, and children. While higher numbers are proffered by immigration-control advocates, numbers are lower from government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), and immigrant advocates.

Meanwhile, a new silent majority of U.S. citizens holds that illegal immigration is aggravating the high unemployment and underemployment now vexing the nation. Many college graduates, skilled workers, and unskilled workers who find themselves unemployed or underemployed believe that their career goals are being derailed by the cost of government services for illegal aliens, a cost that is harming the U.S. economy.

In an April 4, report, the Pew Hispanic Center (PHC) found that 47 percent of Hispanics consider themselves “very different from the typical American.”

An April 23 PHC report found that the net migration from Mexico to the United States had fallen to zero — and perhaps less — with more Mexicans leaving the U.S. then entering it.

According to federal government figures, however, more than half of the estimated 12 million immigrants currently residing in the U.S. entered illegally. Even accepting that low-ball figure, how could illegal immigrants not impact the U.S. job market?

The Pew Hispanic Center bases its contention that net migration from Mexico to the U.S. has slowed or even reversed on multiple government data sets from Mexico and the United States. These reports, however, qualify their numbers as estimates or approximations.

Such qualifiers confirm that the United States has no idea of the exact number of illegal aliens and their extended families now residing in the United States, nor can the U.S. Government state the exact costs and impacts of undocumented aliens.

Local and state agencies do a better job, as they calculate rises and declines in costs of outlays and intakes of criminal justice systems, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, such as emergency rooms, and social/welfare programs.

These costs are likely to be a more accurate barometer of the comings and goings of users of services than are the costs estimated by the federal government, nongovernment organizations, or non-profit pundits.

The Obama administration has dealt with immigration legislation by pushing for the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). This proposed legislation would grant U.S. citizenship to persons of a certain age group who were brought illegally into the United States as minors.

The question remains, why did the Democrats who were still in charge of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives during the December 2010 lame-duck session of Congress, fail to pass the DREAM Act?

Now Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is preparing a Republican version of the DREAM Act that would offer a pathway to permanent residency status for minors brought into the United States illegally and who are now enrolled in college or serving in the U.S. military. His bill, however, is being condemned by liberals, even before it is submitted.

Meanwhile college and graduate students — Hispanics among them — receiving their degrees in 2012, vocally express their dismay that, after sending out 60 to 80 resumes and job applications, they have no interviews. A recent segment on the PBS’ “NewsHour” featured their misery as a commentary on today’s job market.

Recent graduates are experiencing high unemployment, high student loan payments, and no real job prospects. This is especially so, if they happen not to have degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics — the in-demand STEM majors. As of May 8, unemployment estimates for recent college graduates is 32 percent, with underemployment for another 20.2 percent.

Ironically, many illegal aliens who overstay their student visas have graduated in STEM courses and are well employed. In contrast, students who opted for gender studies, ethnic studies, social studies, and other “lightweight” degrees, find themselves unemployed and moving back home with their parents.

The Obama administration fails to address the job question just as it fails to address comprehensive immigration reform.

Meanwhile U.S. citizen workers are losing jobs to visa overstays, either because of education deficiencies or lack of work ethic. Employers assert that many young Americans lack the specialty skills, discipline, or desire to work in high-tech STEM fields, in crafts, or in agriculture.

Many of these young people who voted in 2008 are disaffected with the Obama promises of “hope” and “change” and the unfulfilled promises of employment and immigration reform. For them, “hope” has become “despair,” and “change” has become “unemployment.”

James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.

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