"When we look at history, you see that immigration goes up in times of economic prosperity and down when the economy is not doing so well," said Michele Waslin, senior policy analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center. The influx spurred opposition from many citizens, who said Irish immigrants were taking Americans' jobs and opposed the immigrants' religion. Politicians demanded laws to make it harder for foreigners to become U.S. citizens.
In 1875, the U.S. passed its first restrictive immigration law. It prevented prostitutes and convicts from entering the country.
"Throughout history, it is the laws that really define who is legal and who is illegal," Waslin said. "At different parts of U.S. history, different groups have been illegal depending on what law there was at the time."
A January report by the liberal Center for American Progress and Immigration Policy Center noted that a large population of unauthorized immigrants — 10 to 12million, per most estimates — depresses wages for low-skilled jobs. Unscrupulous employers can hire and underpay unlawful workers, who have no ability to unionize or push back politically. In other words, the larger the undocumented population, the smaller the clout of organized labor.
Legalizing unlawful immigrants and ensuring the rights of all workers, the CAP and IPC study concluded, would “help American workers” by “rais[ing] the ‘wage floor’ for the entire U.S. economy.” Newly naturalized workers could also give unions a boost, particularly if they view them as allies early on.
“There are many reports that confirm immigrants contribute to the economy,” said P.U.E.B.L.O. Executive Director Belen Seara, referring directly to studies from the Immigration Policy Center and the University of Southern California.
The Immigration Policy Center reported via the Texas-based Perryman Group, “If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from California, the state would lose $164.2 billion in expenditures, $72.9 billion in economic output, and approximately 717,000 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time.”
These figures are based in part on income and sales tax revenues and Social Security revenues.
Benjamin E. Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, which advocates comprehensive immigration reform, said many grass-roots groups have been responsible for pushing immigration legislation at the local and state levels. But he questioned some of the groups' tactics, saying that at times they capitalize on communities' fears and anxiety and use immigrants as scapegoats.
"Migrants come here for a reason," says Michele Waslin, a senior policy analyst at the Immigration Policy Center. "They will continue to exist even if their life is made more difficult for them in the U.S. They have to weigh their lives here with their lives back home."
“There is a concern that police officers working in areas that have secure communities in their local jails may have an incentive, or at least the ability, to make arrests based on race or ethnicity, or to make pretextual arrests of persons they suspect to be in violation of immigration laws, in order to have them run through immigration databases once they are jailed,” according to a 2009 by the Immigration Policy Center on the Secure Communities program and a similar effort, the Criminal Alien Program.
Adopting such a practice in the U.S. would be not only unconstitutional but also impractical and expensive, said Michele Waslin, a policy analyst with the pro-immigrant Immigration Policy Center in Washington.
"Every single parent who has a child would have to go through this bureaucratic process of proving their own citizenship and therefore proving their child's citizenship," she said.
But the next target is not kids. It is babies. The next idea is to deny birth certificates to children born here to illegal immigrant parents. It’s not a new idea, but its one that keeps being coughed up by those who haven't found a problem they can't blame on illegal immigrants.
Call them bullies without a clue.
The Immigration Policy Center prepared a fact sheet for those who want to understand this a little better.
Delaware Rep. Michael Castle speculated that the economy would eclipse immigration on the national congressional agenda. Citing an extensive and well documented report titled “Raising the Floor for American Workers” published jointly by the Center for American progress and the Immigration Policy Center, I stated that comprehensive immigration reform would raise wages, increase consumption, create jobs and generate additional tax revenue, resulting in $1.5 trillion in cumulative U.S. gross domestic product over the next 10 years. On the other hand, mass deportations would lead to a loss of $2.6 trillion in gross domestic product over the next 10 years. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform can be a part of the solution to the national economic crisis.