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Immigrant study offers sobering facts

GUEST COLUMN

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Joe Guzzardi

The Center for Immigration Studies has released an in-depth analysis of America’s foreign-born residents titled, “Immigrants in the United States,” evaluating immigrants’ progress during their residency.

Since 1970, the foreign-born population has quadrupled. Since 1980, it’s tripled. And since 1990, it’s more than doubled to its current 42.4 million total.

With immigration front and center in the presidential race, the report provides voters with a wealth of information that might help them evaluate recent White House policy decisions.

From a strictly population growth perspective, the report offers sobering details. Within a relatively short time span, the four years from 2010 to 2014, new legal and illegal immigrants plus their U.S.-born children added 8.3 million residents, an unsustainable level of population increase.

Last year, the Pew Research Center published its independent study which found new immigrants and their descendants will, as they have for the last 50 years, drive most U.S. population growth.

Among the projected 441 million Americans in 2065 — up from today’s 325 million — 78 million will be immigrants and 81 million will be children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents. California has been and will continue to be the state most affected.

During the 20th Century’s last half, California’s population nearly tripled. Today, the state population is 39 million. The state Department of Finance predicts that by 2050 more than 50 million people will live in California, a 25 percent increase over 2016.

The report uncovered some little-known facts about immigration’s effects. Among them: every state has seen significant increases in its immigrant population, including those thousands of miles from the Southwest border.

North Dakota and Wyoming had the largest percentage increases with 45 percent and 42 percent, respectively. And somewhat curiously given the continued debate in Congress about what role Saudi Arabia played in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Saudi immigrants increased 93 percent during the period studied.

Another major campaign issue, one that past presidents have vowed but failed to improve since Jimmy Carter, is education.

In 1979, Carter created the federal Department of Education, and said that, our country’s entire intellectual and cultural life depends on the public school system’s success. But 37 years later, K-12 public schools have failed on nearly every level.

One reason is that 10.9 million students from immigrant households — 23 percent of all public schools students — have overwhelmed teachers. Most of the new students don’t speak English, and need remedial programs.

Again, using California as an example, about 1.4 million K-12 students are currently designated as English Language Learners. State taxpayers spend more than $12 billion annually to fund special classes for them.

Perhaps the report’s biggest surprise is that despite years of pro-immigration advocates insisting immigrants do jobs Americans won’t, the research showed the opposite is true.

In almost every Bureau of Labor Statistics-recognized job category, the majority of workers are U.S.-born, even jobs often thought to be overwhelmingly done by immigrants — 51 percent of maids, 53 percent of taxi drivers and chauffeurs, 67 percent of butchers and 65 percent of construction laborers are U.S.-born.

The unemployment rate for Americans in each of those four occupations averages about 10 percent, proof plenty of workers are available.

The report delivers an in-depth analysis that includes not only immigration-related population, education and employment statistics, but also immigrants’ welfare use, their poverty levels, and health insurance coverage, and ranked each by country of origin.

For many Americans, the report represents a treasure trove of immigration information that may answer many questions, but likely poses many more about the wisdom of adding more immigrants on virtual autopilot.

— Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Email him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org.

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