MYTH: "Immigrants take our jobs"
The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early 1900s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth. Immigrants create new jobs by forming new businesses, buying homes, spending their incomes on American goods and services, paying taxes and raising the productivity of U.S. businesses.¹ In fact, between 1990 and 2004, roughly 9 out of 10 native-born workers with at least a high school diploma experienced wage gains because of increased immigration.
A legal flow of immigrants based on workforce demand strengthens the U.S. economy by keeping productivity high and countering negative impacts as the U.S. aging population swells. Of the twenty occupations that will see the largest growth in the next seven years, twelve of them only require on-the-job-training--including jobs in SEIU's core industries like home care, cleaning/janitorial services, child care, and hospitality services.³ But as native-born workers seek higher education and move up the occupational ladder, the number of native-born workers seeking employment in these industries has shrunk.
The problem with today's economy is not immigrants; the problem is our broken immigration laws that allow big business to exploit workers who lack legal status, driving down wages for all workers. If every immigrant were required to get into the system, pay their dues, and become U.S. citizens, we could block big business' upper hand, eliminate the two-tiered workforce, and build a united labor movement that raises wages and living standards for all workers.