By the time this post is published election day will have come and gone. It was an election in which illegal immigration was a major issue, and the issue is unlikely to go away now that the votes are in. But, a recent study debunks one widely believed falsehood behind much of the campaign rhetoric — the myth that illegal immigrants are taking jobs in the U.S. that would otherwise go to American citizens.
The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center and based on an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, found no evidence that undocumented immigrants are taking employment opportunities from American workers.
The study found that undocumented workers are generally concentrated in a few industries, including drywall installation, agriculture, roofing, construction and housekeeping. But even in these industries, the majority of workers are still native-born Americans. Undocumented immigrants tend to take jobs that American workers don’t want. They tend to take low-skilled jobs, due in part to their legal status and in part to language barriers. Native-born workers do not have these limitations and thus have the ability to compete for better jobs.
The study also found that since 2009, the number of unauthorized workers has decreased relative to the overall labor force. Since 2009 the U.S. labor force has grown by 2.2 percent, while the number of undocumented workers has actually declined.
Undocumented workers should be aware that there are deferred action programs that may protect them from deportation. Understanding how to qualify for these programs could be the first step out of the shadow economy and toward legal permanent residency and ultimately citizenship.
Source: CBS News, “Unlawful immigrants make up smaller — not larger — share of U.S. workforce,” Aimee Picchi, Nov. 3, 2016