Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) has launched television advertisements to be aired in Los Angeles County and around the country, this summer. The brief ad shows images of racially diverse “jobless Californians,” and describes Senator Barbara Boxer as “ready to admit one million legal immigrants to the U.S. this year.”
As usual, CAPS’s mixed-up rhetoric and blanket statements entirely miss the point. Immigrants do not steal jobs from more deserving Americans, nor do immigrants immediately find employment upon entering the United States as CAPS implies.
This ad campaign appears to be referencing the average annual limit to “legal” immigration in the United States which has hovered around one million people per year for the last three years, at least. This number includes both newly admitted Legal Permanent Residents as well as those who have had their immigration status adjusted. This means that there are not one million new, documented people entering the country every year – the number is closer to 500,000.
CAPS must be held accountable for their scare-tactics, especially when a closer examination of immigrants and jobs reveals a different story. Since at least 2010, immigrants have dealt with higher unemployment rates than domestic-born citizens. Latinos, who constitute more than half of the foreign-born workforce in the United States, have also experienced higher unemployment in the last year than have their white counterparts.
Among workers with a high school education or higher, Latinos suffer significantly higher unemployment rates than whites with the same level of education. Among workers with less than a high school education, Latino workers have a better employment rate than white workers.
This may be because immigrants to the United States are overall more likely to take more risk-intensive jobs (which may require less formal education) than are white workers. Of course it could also be because immigrants are forced or pigeon-holed into taking low-paying, high-risk jobs because of employers’ racist and xenophobic conceptions of what an immigrant worker is able to do.
Though CAPS creeps around the real message of its advertisement, it is clear when taken in context with the organization’s other work: that immigrants are an intellectual and physical drain on the economy, and that they do not deserve to be extended the same human rights and dignity that the United States supposedly offers to its other residents.