WASHINGTON—A new study debunks the common refrain that America needs illegal immigrants to do the jobs that Americans won’t do.
Only six of the 474 job categories—defined by the Chamber of Commerce—are filled by a majority of immigrants, and none of the occupations are dominated by illegal immigrants, according to a study released by the Center for Immigration Studies on Aug. 26.
Even in those six jobs, 46 percent of workers are native-born.
The study uses Census Bureau data and applies an industry-standard method to identify which respondents are most likely illegal aliens.
“There are just 24 occupations out of 474 in which illegal immigrants comprise at least 15 percent of workers,” the study indicates.
“Illegal immigrants work mostly in construction, cleaning, maintenance, food service, garment manufacturing, and agricultural occupations. However, the majority of workers even in these areas are either native-born or legal immigrants.”
The study lists the proportion of native-born workers within several occupations that are commonly thought to be dominated by immigrants—both legal and illegal:
- Maids and housekeepers: 51 percent native-born.
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 54 percent native-born.
- Butchers and meat processors: 64 percent native-born.
- Grounds maintenance workers: 66 percent native-born.
- Construction laborers: 65 percent native-born.
- Janitors: 73 percent native-born.
Many of the high-immigrant (legal and illegal) occupations don’t require an education beyond high school, which suggests “the impact of illegal immigration on wages and employment opportunities will be felt most by less-educated natives,” the study said.
It also found that in regions where immigrants were fewer, the overwhelming majority of workers were native-born—even in low-wage, difficult jobs.
“Meaning that when immigrants are not present, natives do this type of work,” the study states.
“Because the American economy is so dynamic, with many factors impacting employment and wages, it would be a mistake to believe that every job taken by an immigrant is a job lost by a native.
“It would also be a mistake, however, to assume that dramatically increasing the number of available workers in high-immigrant occupations has no impact on the employment prospects or wages of natives.”
ICE Worksite Enforcement
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stepped up its worksite-enforcement operations over the past year, under the direction of former Acting Director Tom Homan.
“I want to increase that by four to five times what they’re currently doing,” Homan said on Oct. 17, 2017. “Not only only are we going to prosecute the employers who normally hire the illegal immigrants, we’re going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers.”
Arrests of aliens found at a workplace, but who aren’t authorized to work, plummeted during the Obama era—from more than 1,600 arrests in fiscal year 2009 to 106 in fiscal 2016.
The agency has since ramped that back up to 1,186 in fiscal 2018 to date.
Numbers are markedly up across the board—from worksite audits and inspections, to indictments, arrests, and convictions.
Criminal arrests are up from 135 in fiscal 2017 to 723 in fiscal 2018, to date.
ICE has served more than 5,100 notices of inspection to businesses in fiscal 2018 to date—up from 1,360 in all of fiscal 2017.
“A notice of inspection alerts business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the law,” ICE said in a statement. “If the businesses are found to not be in compliance with the law, they will face civil fines and potential criminal prosecution.”
On Aug. 28, ICE arrested 160 employees alleged to be working illegally in the United States at a North Texas tractor-trailer business, Load Trail.
ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations said in a statement it received information that the company was knowingly hiring illegal aliens, and many of the aliens were using fraudulent identification documents.
“Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina Berger, HSI Dallas.
“In addition, they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”
HSI is responsible for enforcing the 1986 law that requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of individuals they hire.
According to ICE, worksite enforcement investigations often uncover egregious violations of the law by employers, as well as widespread abuses.
“Such cases often involve additional violations such as alien smuggling, alien harboring, document fraud, money laundering, fraud, or worker exploitation,” ICE said on its website.
The agency also investigates employers who employ force, threats, or coercion (for example, threatening to have employees deported) in order to keep the unauthorized alien workers from reporting substandard wage or working conditions.
ICE said it will obtain the necessary authority to prosecute an employer before it arrests the employees for immigration violations at a worksite.
A voluntary system, called E-Verify, already exists for businesses to check that potential employees are able to work legally in the United States.
Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said making the system mandatory would help curb illegal immigration.
“The biggest way to get large numbers of the illegal alien population in the United States to self-deport, is dry up their ability to work,” he said on Oct. 17, 2017.
Arizona introduced mandatory E-Verify in 2008 and included a penalty to revoke a business license if an employer knowingly hired an alien who was unauthorized to work in the United States.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sued and it went to Supreme Court,” von Spakovsky said. “And the Supreme Court said it’s perfectly legitimate for states to make the E-Verify system mandatory and to threaten the loss of a business license.”
However, E-Verify’s limitation is that it won’t work if an illegal alien has obtained fraudulent documentation and social security information—as in the recent case of the alleged killer of Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa.
“Unauthorized workers often use stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, which can profoundly damage for years the identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life,” ICE said in a statement.