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November 26, 2008

Fallout from an immigrant murder in New York

On Saturday, November 8, a gang of men who have been terrorizing immigrant workers in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY, killed an Ecuadorian near the train station in Patchogue. The killing of Marcelo Lucero tore a deep emotional gash within the county’s population, which has been deeply divided over the issue of enforcement of immigration laws. The New York Times today (11/26/08) printed an editorial which tries to place local police enforcement of immigration laws within the context of standards of decency and protection of human rights.

This is the kind of event which would prompt more focus on immigration reform, were it not for the financial crisis the country is in.

Long Island Wins, a pro immigrant blog for Island Island, has been covering this and other developments involving low wag immigrant labor.

The editorial in full:

A Catastrophic Silence
November 26, 2008

The killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, on Long Island this month brought with it a cruel blessing. From a shocking crime — an assault by a gang of boys accused of making a hobby of hunting Latinos — came a chance for a stricken, divided community to bind old wounds and to bury anger.

Instead, the moment is collapsing into the same old shouting. Advocates for immigrants are condemning the Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, as somehow complicit in the killing for his rigid devotion to immigration enforcement. Mr. Levy is lashing back and trying to distribute blame fairly. He wonders, for example, how a gang out of “A Clockwork Orange” could have run free for so long, firing BB’s and hateful slurs at random victims, jumping and punching them for sport.

Why, he asks, were their friends and acquaintances silent? It’s a fair question, but there is another silence Mr. Levy should focus on.

The silence that echoes most painfully is that of the Latino victims of these and other hidden crimes. Mr. Lucero’s death has set loose a flood of stories of abuse and harassment. A police precinct commander lost his job over his handling of two other attacks against Latino men that fatal day, an acknowledgment that in Suffolk, equal protection may not always apply to everyone.

Suffolk is not the only place with hate crimes or fearful immigrants. The same silence ruled in Postville, Iowa, where children worked brutal hours on a slaughterhouse killing floor. It hung over a factory in New Bedford, Mass., that systematically cheated workers of wages and the Louisiana shipyards where legal guest workers were held in modern-day indentured servitude.

The silence of undocumented immigrants is the catastrophic silence of people taught by legislative harassment and relentless stereotyping to live mute and afraid.

Mr. Levy sees no role for himself in this drama.

“Since when is enforcing the law seen as something negative and inflammatory?” he asked his critics this week. Here is an attempt to explain.

The fixation on uprooting and expelling immigrants is negative because it doesn’t work. It’s inflammatory because it tears communities and families apart.

When you turn the local police into la migra, as Mr. Levy once tried to do, you turn immigrants into the mute prey of criminals. When you relentlessly pick fights with advocates who criticize you, as Mr. Levy has, you are unable to stand with them when disaster strikes.

And when you tolerate the poisonous notion that “illegal” is a stain that can never be erased, with no path to atonement, then you turn the undocumented into a permanent class of presumed criminals who have no rights.

The undocumented do have rights. They have the right to be paid for their labor, to speak freely and to congregate in public places without fear.

Mr. Levy has an agile mind and a commitment to doing what he sees as right. There is a way for him to make Suffolk a better place. He can give the jobs of deportation and border control back to the federal government and concentrate on making things safer and more lawful in his community. He can stand up for the rights of the undocumented, like day laborers, to congregate safely and to be paid for their work, to prevent federal crimes like wage theft and to keep off-the-books businesses from eroding pay and conditions for all workers.

He can pursue common ground with his Latino constituents — even those who are angry at him but would jump at the chance to sit down and talk. He can listen to Marcelo Lucero’s brother, Joselo, who has been a voice for peace. He can lead his county into the calm silence of reconciliation instead of silence based on fear.

November 8, 2008

A rich study of the illegal workforce’s economic impact

Waco TX-base The Perryman Group published an indepth and data rich study of the illegal workfroce in the country with a scenario were the illegal workforce eliminated. And partial replaced with domestic workers. It is called: An Essential Resource: An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Undocumented Workers on Business Activity in the US with Estimated Effects by State and by Industry

Key statistics from the study: There are 8.1 million illegal workers in the U.S., in 2008, a figure equal from that which the Pew Hispanic Center would estimate based on a 68% workforce participation rate within the illegal population. The total immigrant population in the U.S has grown to 37 million, or 13% of the population compared to 5% of the population in 1970.

A “dynamic” forecast of job loss within the 130 million total civilian workforce estimates that after the elimination of these 8.1 million jobs, about 2.8 million jobs would no net be lost. Arizona would relatively speaking be the worst off. 65% of its immigrant population if illegal, or 15% of its workforce. It would lose 5% of its workforce compared to 4% in California and 5% nationwide. Arizona now has about 400,000 illegal workers compared to 2 million in California and 1.2 million in Texas.

Were the elimination of illegal workers to happen, the per capita loss of income would be $1,251 in California, $$1,159 in Arizona, and $1,099 in Nevada.

Excerpts from the study:

In this study, The Perryman Group (TPG) considered factors such as

• the likely numbers of undocumented workers by state,
• concentration of undocumented workers by industry,
• dynamic adjustments that would be set in motion by a major change in immigration policy,
• spillover effects as various supply chains and payrolls are affected, and
• relative differentials in skill levels and compensation associated with undocumented workers.

The analysis uses appropriate modeling techniques to provide an assessment of the magnitude of the impact of the undocumented workforce as well as the economic dependency of various areas and sectors on this source of labor.

Highlights of the key findings from this study are presented below.

• The latest Census data indicates that 1 of every 8 people living in the US is an immigrant, with approximately one-third of them being undocumented.
• Estimates performed by The Perryman Group as a part of this study indicate that there are currently approximately 8.1 million undocumented workers in the US economy. If these workers were removed from the workforce, the effects would ripple through many industries and the ultimate job losses would be even higher. • Undocumented immigrants comprise a large component of the workforce in some industries and geographic areas. In 10 states, the percentage of undocumented workers as a share of the workforce equals or exceeds the national average of 5%. Arizona has the highest proportion with 12%.

The Perryman Group measured losses if the undocumented workforce is removed for a static scenario (reflecting the immediate losses that would be associated with an enforcement-only type of program) and dynamic scenario (reflecting losses after time for market adjustments such as changing production processes and raising wage rates to attract additional workers). Provisions for accepting those already in the system would allow for meaningful reform without the massive negative effects that would accompany more reactionary policy options.

• For the US as a whole, the immediate negative effect of eliminating the undocumented workforce would include an estimated $1.757 trillion in annual lost spending, $651.511 billion in annual lost output, and o 8.1 million lost jobs.

• Even after the economy had time to make market adjustments (which could only fully occur if some provisions for additional entry were available), the foregone economic activity would be sizable, as noted in the following graph.

There is clear evidence that undocumented workers are currently making contributions to the US economy and society, especially in certain industries and occupations.

• If all undocumented workers were removed from the workforce, a number of industries would face substantial shortages of workers, and Americans would have to be induced into the labor pool or provided incentives to take jobs far below their current education and skill levels. For this phenomenon to occur to a meaningful extent, substantial wage escalation would likely be necessary, thus eroding competitiveness in global markets.

• As the domestic workforce becomes older, more stable in number, and better educated, the US production complex increasingly requires foreign, low-skilled workers. In 1960, about 50% of men in this country joined the low-skilled labor force without completing high school; the number is now less than 10%. Shortages in the low-skilled labor force are likely to continue to escalate.

• Available evidence suggests that undocumented workers pay far more in overall taxes than they receive in benefits from various governments.3 However, many (but not all) state and local public entities experience a net deficit resulting from the specific services they offer (education, health care, law enforcement, etc.) relative to their principle sources of revenues. Thus, there is a legitimate policy debate regarding the proper distribution of the taxes paid by undocumented workers.

• It is imperative that any rational policy recognize the basic and inescapable reality that the resource represented by undocumented workers is an absolutely essential element of the modern US economy.

The Perryman Group is an economic research and analysis firm located in Waco, Texas. TPG has been involved in hundreds of impact analyses and labor market studies over the past 25 years, including many related to the workforce needs of specific sectors and regions and others related to issues of international trade and production.

TPG is uniquely qualified to conduct this analysis. Dr. M. Ray Perryman, the founder and president of the firm, developed the US Multi-Regional Impact Assessment System (USMRIAS) and has consistently maintained, expanded, and updated it for more than 20 years. This model has been used in hundreds of significant and innovative studies over an extended period, and enjoys an excellent reputation for the reliability of its findings.

The key underlying models used in this analysis were developed in the early 1980s, and have been maintained and updated since that time. Among the many studies the firm has conducted related to international activity are (1) several transportation analyses for US-Mexico corridors, (2) an assessment of cross-border maquiladora impacts, (3) a multi-state evaluation of the effects of inefficiencies in border crossings and changes in policy, (4) an empirical investigation of net gains from the North American Free Trade Agreement, (5) a prior measurement of the impact of the undocumented workforce in Texas, and (6) a quantification of the overall consequences of global trade on various regional economies.