Article: Recovering stolen jobs is key
By Rep. Lamar Smith, Politico, December 3, 2009
If President Barack Obama could snap his fingers and create 8 million new jobs, would you want him to do it? I would. And certainly the 15 million unemployed Americans would, as well.
The good news is that the president can do just that - implement a policy that opens up 8 million jobs. The bad news is that he won't.
Four weeks ago, after the administration announced that the unemployment rate had hit 10.2 percent and 190,000 jobs were lost in October alone, 21 of my colleagues and I wrote to the president to recommend enforcing current immigration laws to open up jobs for citizens and legal immigrants. The White House has yet to respond.
And this week, notably absent from the president's jobs summit is any discussion of how to take back the 8 million jobs currently occupied by illegal immigrants and make them available to out-of-work U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.
Instead, the Obama administration has taken the opposite approach to the stolen-jobs problem. Rather than ensuring that American jobs are reserved for legal workers, the administration continues to pursue amnesty. But legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants will only further harm American workers, making it harder for citizens and legal immigrants to get and keep long-term jobs.
How can the administration justify giving millions of jobs to illegal immigrants when the economy is struggling with a 10 percent unemployment rate? Adding insult to injury, it absurdly claims that immigration enforcement is done. That is simply not true. And nowhere is that more clear than in the administration's record on work site enforcement.
Statistics from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with enforcing the nation's immigration laws, reveal significant drops in work site enforcement activity across the board. Administrative arrests (arrests of illegal immigrants who will be placed into deportation proceedings) have fallen 68 percent, criminal arrests are down 60 percent, criminal indictments have fallen 58 percent and criminal convictions are down 63 percent - all in just one year!
It is hard to conceive of a worse time to cut work site enforcement efforts by more than half. But that is exactly what the Obama administration has done.
The administration says that it has increased the number of I-9 audits of employers. But those audits are a farce. Employers consider an occasional minor fine just the cost of doing business.
The administration also claims that audits lead to criminal investigations. That statement is true - audits can lead to investigations - but the administration's own record demonstrates that they haven't. As the number of audits has increased, the number of cases initiated has dropped by more than 30 percent, from an average of 93 per month to just 61.
And what happens to the illegal workers? A recent Minnesota Public Radio report described the aftermath of an audit that identified 1,200 illegal immigrants in well-paying janitorial jobs: "The most important rumor to dispel was that the workers were arrested."
Instead of creating jobs for citizens and legal immigrants, the Obama administration simply told 1,000 illegal immigrants to go down the street and knock on the door of the next employer. Instead of creating jobs, the administration created competition for jobs!
With so many Americans' livelihoods on the line, now is the time for the administration to stand up for citizens and legal immigrants. Now is the time for the president to direct that immigration laws be enforced. When the jobs stolen by illegal immigrants are recovered for legal workers, our true national recovery can begin.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee.
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