by John Conlin
It’s a joyous time of the year for millions of young Americans as they graduate high school and move on to another phase of their lives.
But as the crisis at our southern border intensifies—thousands of illegal immigrants are flowing into the country each and every day—we need to ask ourselves what this onslaught will mean to average U.S. citizens for generations to come.
Every year about 4 million American youngsters move on from high school. On average just over 80 percent of them graduate and the others, around 760,000 each and every year, just move on. Unfortunately, the economic futures of those who don’t obtain a high school diploma are rather bleak. They are made bleaker in that this cohort of individuals will, in all likelihood, be competing for jobs against millions of illegal immigrants who are willing to work for far below market wages.
Of those who do graduate high school, around two-thirds will attend college. Thus, just over 1 million high school graduates won’t attempt to attend college. Of those who go to college, 40 percent won’t graduate in a 6-year time span, adding another 864,000 to the list of folks who either never attended or graduated from college.
So, in total every year we have about 2.6 million American non-college graduates who must find employment of some kind. What economic futures are we leaving to these individuals?
Although you can find many “academic” studies purporting to show illegal immigrants don’t take jobs from Americans, those of us who live in the real world know better. Construction is a big employer; over 7 million work in the field. I have a high school friend who used to hang drywall. When illegal laborers took over the construction trades, he saw piece rates cut by a third. How would you like a 33 percent cut in pay? And regardless of what the studies say, Spanish has become the primary language on almost every major construction site in the country. The same is happening in the oil patch and other U.S. industries where manual labor is standard.
All these forces are made even worse by the coming technological revolution, which will extinguish forever millions of low-skilled service industry jobs. The last thing this country needs is even more low-skilled workers fighting over an ever-shrinking pool of work.
Those who blame the illegals, however, are blaming the wrong folks. As a country, we have had the welcome mat out for these people for a long time. They might not have been welcomed through the front door but they were welcomed nonetheless. Sanctuary cities, non-enforcement of immigration laws, non-existent border control, catch and release, even government-issued driver’s licenses. Even the $1,400 stimulus checks are being paid to illegal immigrants! For some of these folks that could be a year’s pay back home.
Heck, some places in California are now allowing illegal immigrants to vote in various elections. So, from a prospective illegal immigrant’s viewpoint, how freaking illegal can it really be?! Blame the politicians from both parties who fostered this process, not the people who answered the call.
But the fact remains, Mexico has exported around 10 percent of its “surplus” population to this country. Monetary remittances back to Mexico have ballooned to $40 billion annually; making this a larger source of foreign income than Mexico’s oil and gas and tourism industries combined. That’s about 4 percent of Mexico’s entire gross domestic product.
Why do you think the countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and others are happily exporting their people to the United States? And as the caravan folks have openly noted, they are coming here for jobs and to send money back home.
Many liberal politicians have stated they dream of a Western Hemisphere without borders. I doubt if they would feel the same if it were they and their children among the 2.6 million or so Americans who face a bleak economic future of competing for an ever-shrinking number of jobs against people who back home might make $8 a day.
More than 2.6 million young American citizens are up against this struggle each and every year. And what are we leaving them and their children? It is something to think about the next time someone brings up the subject of open borders.
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John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change. He is also president and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.