- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2001

The finding by the Center for Immigration Studies that recent immigrants are not moving up the economic ladder as did their predecessors comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the first law of economics: The price of anything, including labor, is determined by supply and demand (“More immigrants staying in poverty, study claims,” Nation, March 29).

As the supply of cheap labor created by immigration has soared during the past two decades, the wages for all labor, including that of immigrants, has grown little.

To put it in perspective, from 1950 to 1973, average wages, adjusted for inflation, increased by about 100 percent. Between 1973 and 1999, however, real average weekly earnings declined 24 percent despite a strong economy.

The dismal performance of wage rates was caused by three factors. First, baby boomers swamped the market in the 1970s. Second, the number of good-paying jobs declined as manufacturing jobs moved abroad. Third, and most recently, the labor market is being swamped by legal and illegal immigrants.

Of course, the prospect of low wages is exactly why businesses support adding 2 million legal and illegal immigrants each year. But it is strange indeed to hear National Immigration Forum Director Frank Sharry, who supposedly is concerned with the plight of immigrants, support an immigration policy that works against their interests.

Apparently he is unaware that during the last great wave of immigration, early in this century, most immigrants fared so badly that 40 percent decided to return home. For those who remained, it was only after immigration was drastically reduced that their economic futures improved significantly.

It is in the best interests of all American wage earners, both native-born and immigrant, to roll back immigration to the sustainable levels of the 1960s.


Evanston, Ill.

In your March 29 story on the Center for Immigration Studies´ recent analysis, National Immigration Forum Director Frank Sharry comments, ” is cut from the same cloth as the pseudo-science of the early 1900s that labeled Italians, Jews, Slovaks and other Europeans as inassimilable.´”

This strikes me as a bit extreme. Doesn´t the United States have the highest immigration rates in the world? The real issue here has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. Rather, it is about how the size of our nation´s population affects our quality of life.

Don´t the 2000 census numbers confirm that our population growth is out of control?


San Francisco

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