US immigrants take jobs citizens don’t want, Americans say


President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on the US Labor Department’s positive job gains report Friday 5 June 2020.

White House / Public Domain

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Comments by Sanwar Ali:

It is likely to be true that migrants take jobs that Americans don’t want.  That is true around the World, especially in “Western industrialized societies”.  This also includes some higher skilled jobs as well.  There are skills shortages as probably Americans are not that interested in some higher paid and higher skilled jobs as well.

There is still uncertainty about possible work visa restrictions by Trump.  Probably there are heated discussions over this amongst Donald Trump’s senior advisers, with immigration hardliner Stephen Miller calling for tough restrictions and probably Jared Kushner Donald Trump’s son-in-law calling for a softer line.  Changes could happen any time with little notice.  Indian owned technology firms likely to be the worst affected.

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, most Americans seemingly agree that immigrants – both undocumented and living in the US legally – take jobs that US citizens don’t want. The research found that this was the case across a number of racial and ethnic groups and supporters of both US political parties.

Americans agreed that undocumented migrants are much more likely to accept jobs not wanted by citizens, according to the research. Approximately three-quarters of adults (77%) say that undocumented immigrants mostly fill jobs not wanted by US citizens. Meanwhile, 21% said that undocumented migrants fill roles US citizens would like to have.

The research comes amid rumours that the Trump administration is set to temporarily ban US work related visas in order to preserve vacant job roles for American workers as unemployment rates soar, due to coronavirus. Measures could see US H1B, H2B, L1 and other employment-based non-immigrant US visa programmes temporarily closed to new applicants.

Hispanics most likely to say undocumented migrants fill jobs

The research indicates that Hispanics (88%) are most likely to say that undocumented immigrants fill job vacancies that Americans don’t want. Meanwhile, more Hispanic immigrants (94%) than US-born Hispanics (82%) agree that immigrants will take on jobs US citizens avoid.

In comparison, there was a similar proportion of white (75%) and black (71%) adults who shared the same view.

Almost identical research was carried out in August 2019, and the latest research hasn’t changed much. In 2019, 77% of US adults said that undocumented immigrants fill job roles not wanted by Americans.

Coronavirus impact on unemployment

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated employment figures across the US. In April, the unemployment rate rose to 14.7%, up from 4.4% in March, representing the biggest monthly rate increase in more than 60 years. The unemployment rate dropped slightly in May to 13.3%.  Trump has actually said that the figures are better than expected.

However, the research did highlight that Americans think that it’s not the duty of the federal government to provide economic support for undocumented migrants who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

The research does reveal a significant difference in views on undocumented migrants mostly filling jobs Americans don’t want, across party lines.

According to the Pew Center’s study, the vast majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (87%) say undocumented migrants do take jobs unwanted by US citizens, compared with 66% of Republicans and Republican leaners.

There are also differences based on educational attainment. A large proportion of US adults with a post graduate degree (88%) and those with a bachelor’s degree (84%), support the notion that undocumented immigrants fill jobs that Americans are unwilling take.

This is compared with just 78% of people with some experience of college and 69% of adults with a high school diploma or less.

Legal immigrants

Meanwhile, a proportion of US citizens across a variety of different groups believe that legal immigrants in the US mostly fill jobs not wanted by Americans. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say this, including similar shares of white and black adults (62% each).

About three-quarters of Hispanics (74%) say the same, with a higher share of Hispanic immigrants (81%) than US-born Hispanics (68%) saying so.

About 70% of the nation’s 42 million Hispanic adults have close immigrant connections – roughly 19 million are immigrants themselves, and almost 10 million born in the United States have at least one parent who is an immigrant, according to estimates from 2019 and 2020 Current Population Survey data.

According to the Pew Research Center’s study, a high proportion of immigrants living legally in the US have a job that is deemed essential by the federal government. This includes an estimated 2.7 million foreign nationals working for the US healthcare system.

In recent months, the Trump administration due to coronavirus COVID-19 has virtually locked down legal immigration to the US. However, US visa rules for some guest workers have been eased, making it easier for them to remain employed in jobs such as meat processing, farming and food production, which – along with healthcare – the government deems essential.

US work visa ban possible

Alongside visa restrictions imposed on Chinese journalists, recently reported that the Trump administration could temporarily ban many US work visa programmes.

Some Republicans have urged Trump to suspend work visa programmes, because of coronavirus and high unemployment rates.

If the US does suspend applications for certain work related non-immigrant visas, this is likely to cause severe problems for many companies in the US.  Businesses hoping to recover from an economic downturn caused by the coronavirus will have greater difficulty hiring people with the right skills.

H1B visas, L1 visas and work authorisation for F1 students and other non-immigrant visa categories would be affected by temporary closures.

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