Should We Favor American College Grads Or Aliens?

The Winter 2014 issue of The Social Contract’s theme is “Whatever Happened To The American Dream?” Editor Wayne Lutton reports four powerful articles arguing for less immigration:

“Edwin Rubenstein reveals how the Middle Class is now confronting a nightmare future, thanks to a flooding of labor markets from immigration.

In her article, “Three Stakes in the Heart of the American Dream,” Brenda Walker explains how mass immigration, outsourcing, and increasing automation are leading to the systematic loss of middle-class jobs.

Dr. Gene Nelson details that there is no shortage of college-educated Americans and thus no case for increasing the numbers of foreign “skilled” immigrants and “temporary” workers, especially in science, engineering, and related fields.

Peter Gemma reminds us that President Eisenhower appointed General Joseph Swing to head the Immigration & Naturalization Service, who then launched a campaign to arrest and deport illegal aliens. Over one million Mexican illegals were deported during the first year of operations. This contrasts with more recent American presidents, who claim we can`t repatriate aliens residing illegally in the U.S.

Lutton also quotes my assessment of the dire situation:

A coalition of what Donald Collins identifies as “cheap labor importers, job exporters, ethnic tribalists, and religious hypocrites” is lobbying to pass a set of “comprehensive” immigration laws that would triple legal immigration over the coming decade by providing 30 million green cards to immigrants while giving “temporary” work permits to a minimum of 15 million guest workers. As CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer responded, “The United States needs to focus on getting jobs for U.S. citizens instead of hiring immigrants and making deals with other nations for cheap labor …. To me, this is so basic. We obviously should be taking care of our own.”

When I shared the above with an old and trusted friend, he replied as follows:

“I know this won`t change your opinion, but consider this.

Our institutions of higher education are full of foreign students especially in the math, science and engineering graduate areas.

Walk around Carnegie Mellon U and Pitt and look at the faces.

If they don`t work here after graduation what will they do? Short answer: they will go home and compete against us from there.

I read recently that approximately 75% of business startups in the US are by foreign born individuals. Whether that figure is true or not there certainly are many. And this isn`t a new thing. It has always been true here.

Think of Andrew Carnegie, the Mellons, etc., etc. (We might add the Collins and my family on a slightly more modest scale). They came here poor and ended up rich. The people who come from wherever are those with the gumption and ambition to leave their homelands and strike out for themselves.

And—-if they work here, they add to the wealth and economic prowess of the US and pay taxes here as well.

You`ve heard this all before—but my two cents worth!”

I replied, in a personal email:

Whoa, I think perhaps my friend largely mistakes my position. I am not anti-immigrant, but make constant reference with dismay on the import of endless less educated unnecessary additions. Quantity not quality has been USA’s feckless immigration journey since 1965.

Yes, many great immigrants who have profoundly added to our wealth and well-being have historically come here.

But of course as they did, it exacerbated the brain drain on nations that need their best and brightest.

My advice to these bright alien graduates would be GO HOME, YOUNG ALIEN PEOPLE AND GROW WITH YOUR COUNTRY, to para-phase Horace Greeley, who in 1850 as founding editor of the New York Tribune used ”Go West, young man” in an editorial. Lucky some like Mark Twain did and went West and avoided conscription into the Civil War!  

Yes, many great aliens have come here, but look at the post 1965 invasion! Not all are those successful Silicon Valley alien mavens, brain surgeons or Carnegie Mellon grads!

In fact, more are not…….

And as one manufacturing veteran recently told me, some 80% of our manufacturing is now performed overseas. So billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg would like the USA to swallow a whole river of water to get a few chunks of gold. So many, many of those foreign grads are already home competing, although at wages far below what they can get here. No wonder they want to stay. And we know, there is no shortage of US engineering grads.

Read Student Loans Entice Borrowers More for Cash Than a Degree [by Josh Mitchell, Wall Street Journal March 3, 2014]. It describes the trouble our own college grads have getting jobs. But at the top is a large chart showing students owe over $1 trillion in debt, up from $250 billion in 2003.

“Some Americans caught in the weak job market are lining up for federal student aid, not for education that boosts their employment prospects but for the chance to take out low-cost loans, sometimes with little intention of getting a degree.

Take Ray Selent, a 30-year-old former retail clerk in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was unemployed in 2012 when he enrolled as a part-time student at Broward County`s community college. That allowed him to borrow thousands of dollars to pay rent to his mother, cover his cellphone bill and catch the occasional movie.

“The only way I feel I can survive financially is by going back to school and putting myself in more student debt,” says Mr. Selent, who has since added $8,000 in student debt from living expenses. Returning to school also gave Mr. Selent a reprieve on the $400 a month he owed from previous student debt because the federal government doesn`t require payments while borrowers are in school.

Mr. Selent, of Fort Lauderdale, knows he is getting himself deeper in a hole but prefers that to the alternative of making minimum wage. In his 20s, he earned a bachelor`s degree in communications from a local for-profit school but couldn`t find a job in the field after graduating… [Emphases added]

Hey, folks, did you expect the Wall Street Journal writer to at mention immigration (and automation!)?

American parents are watching their children enter a job market far less favorable than what their own generation enjoyed.  The American Dream is slowly passing out of reach.   

For example, two of my granddaughters graduated last year, one from George Mason, the other from George Washington. One now hustles cars for CAR2GO and the other does marketing for Don`s Johns, a porta-potty firm (in which, in the interest of full disclosure, I want to say I have no ownership!) Their salaries are modest and their futures highly questionable.

Like a giant boa constrictor that has swallowed a pig, the USA may in time digest the 100-million plus alien surfeit that’s been imported since 1965. But it is imposing continuing enormous, deleterious pressure on US citizens—all of it utterly needless.

Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.