Sky-high legal immigration levels are hurting Colorado workers

Article author: 
Philip Prine
Article publisher: 
Denver Post
Article date: 
10 April 2016
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

Apparently, the law of supply and demand has stopped working in Colorado.

Colorado's unemployment rate has dropped to 3 percent — the lowest level since 2007. Normally, that would spur significant wage growth, as employers increase pay to attract scarce workers.

But real wages have been virtually stagnant since the Great Recession. Between 2009 and 2015, average hourly wages climbed 11 percent in Colorado. Inflation went up about 10 percent.

America's immigration policy bears much of the blame for this conundrum. Our immigration system grants work permits to roughly 1 million new [legal] foreign laborers each year. This never-ending supply of workers distorts the labor market and gives businesses little reason to boost pay or benefits for Colorado's employees.

Until policymakers take steps to lower immigration, local workers shouldn't hold their breath for big raises.

The immigration system doesn't reflect the nation's economic needs. Even as the job market tanked during the recession, the number of immigrants coming to the United States rose to historic highs. In 2008 and 2009, the economy shed over 8.3 million jobs, yet the government admitted 2.2 million new immigrants.

In the nearly seven years since the economic recovery officially began in 2009, the job market has been so weak that millions of Americans have given up even looking for work...

Yet over those same years, the country let in another 7 million legal immigrants, to say nothing of the legions who crossed the border illegally...

We are, of course, a nation of immigrants*...

But looking forward, it makes little sense to import millions more workers when the economy isn't even producing enough new jobs for those already here...

American workers deserve better than today's woefully misguided immigration policies.

Philip Prine is a licensed construction contractor in Louisville.

CAIRCO Research



* America is not a nation of immigrants. Are you an immigrant? The vast open spaces of America were populated by America settlers, a few of whom were legal immigrants. 

As Lawrence Auster explains in Huddled Cliches:

In reality, we are not—even in a figurative sense—a nation of immigrants or even a nation of descendants of immigrants. As  Chilton  Williamson  pointed  out  in The  Immigration Mystique, the 80,000 mostly English and Scots-Irish settlers of colonial times, the ancestors of America’s historic Anglo- Saxon  majority,  had  not  transplanted  themselves  from  one nation to another (which is what defines immigration), but from  Britain  and  its  territories  to  British  colonies.  They were  not  immigrants,  but colonists. The  immigrants  of  the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries came to an American nation  that  had  already  been  formed  by  those  colonists and  their  descendants.  Therefore  to  call America  “a  nation of  immigrants”  is  to  suggest  that America,  prior  to  the  late nineteenth  century  wave  of  European  immigration,  was  not America. It is to imply that George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant (descended from the original colonists) were not “real” Americans...

Since every nation could be called a nation of immigrants (or a nation of invaders) if you go back far enough, consistent application of the principle that a nation of immigrants must be open to all future immigrants would require every country on  earth  to  open  its  borders  to  whoever  wanted  to  come. But only the United States and, to a lesser extent, a handful of  other  Western  nations,  are  said  to  have  this  obligation. The rule of openness to immigrants turns out to be a double standard, aimed solely at America and the West.