Illegal Immigrants might fill stimulus jobs, experts say
The USA Today newspaper reported that illegal immigrants could end up taking tens of thousands of jobs created by the economic stimulus law, particularly in big states such as California, where undocumented workers are heavily represented in construction, experts on both sides of the issues said.
Studies conducted by two conservative think tanks said illegal immigrants in the United States could take 300,000 construction jobs, or 15% of the 2 million jobs that new taxpayer-financed projects are predicted to generate.
They fault Congress for failing to implement a Department of Homeland Security program called E-verify, which allows employers to verify the legal immigration status of workers before hiring.
A director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, Steven Camarota, said, "They could have deterred this, but they chose not to."
The Obama administration has postponed a Bush administrative executive order requiring federal contractors to use the E-Verify system in hiring until at least May 21.
Camarota said illegal immigrants working in construction are heavily populated in California, Arizona and Texas along the border with Mexico, as well as Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia.
According to the East Valley Tribune newspaper, the nation's construction industry is increasingly becoming staffed by undocumented workers such as Hispanics, according to a new report.
New figures Wednesday from the Pew Hispanic Center said that overall construction employment nationwide grew 5 percent between 2005 and 2006. More importantly, the report stated that Hispanics who entered the United States no earlier than 2000 make up 43.1 percent.
The study was released at a time when the Arizona legislature was trying to craft a law to force employers to certify that their workers are in the country legally.
Daniel Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, said, "Low-skilled immigrants benefit the U.S. economy by filling jobs for which the large majority of American workers are overqualified and unwilling to fill."