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Joe Guzzardi: California’s fix for overpopulation and inequality? More immigration

February 20, 2019

Only a few of us are still around — native-born Californians who lived in the paradise-like state before the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and after the disastrous 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Reading the handwriting on the wall, anticipating continued unwieldily immigration-fueled population growth and the diminished quality of life that it brings, hundreds of thousands like me that experienced the early and great California fled.

More than half a century of sustained immigration has affected California more dramatically than any other state. Overcrowded schools and hospitals, bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic, American blue-collar worker job displacement, sprawl, a housing crisis, wildfires, poverty with the attendant income inequality now worse than Mexico’s, and urban decay that remolded the state’s two major cities - Los Angeles and San Francisco - into homeless havens are among the changes to which over-immigration contributed.

Yet, despite California’s obvious decline, 47 of its 53 U.S. representatives and its two U.S. senators - Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris - enthusiastically support unlimited immigration. Since Feinstein was San Francisco’s mayor during its salad years, 1977-1987, her immigration passion is a puzzle. Homelessness, crime and public drug abuse now plague the once glorious “city by the bay” that Feinstein once presided over.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, is all-aboard with California’s no borders congressional delegation. In his ongoing and juvenile dust-up with President Trump over border security, Newsom ordered National Guard troops removed. Then, less than a week later, Newsom gloated that his pending lawsuit opposing President Trump’s National Emergency declaration would be California’s 46th legal challenge against the administration, many of them immigration-related.

More immigration is the goal of California’s leadership. This means more job competition and flat wages for new hires. Legal and illegal immigration has devastated at least three of California’s white- and blue-collar employment categories that historically offered Americans living wages, benefits and pensions:Silicon Valley’s IT industry, the construction trade and building maintenance.

First, in Silicon Valley and the surrounding area, only 29 percent of tech workers are American citizens. The majority are foreign-born H-1B visa holders whose presence in IT displaces skilled, qualified Americans and shuts off opportunities for blacks, Hispanics and other minorities. Despite countless reports issued over the decades that identified H-1B visa abuse and pointed out that U.S. universities graduate more than enough talented Americans to fill IT employment opportunities, no positive reforms are in the offing. In fact, Sen. Harris and long-time H-1B shill U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren introduced bills that would assure that 75-80 percent of employment-based visas would go to Indian nationals.

H-1B critic John Miano, co-author of “Sold Out,” described the proposed legislation as “the most massive change” in immigration policy history,, creating a “train wreck” in America’s immigration system.

Second, Americans once dominated Los Angeles’ unionized construction crews. Then, nonunion immigrants gradually replaced them. And eventually so many job-seeking immigrants arrived on the scene that American and immigrant construction workers alike saw their decent wages plunge.

Third, in the mid-1980s black Americans held the majority of janitorial jobs in Los Angeles. Through their union, the janitors won good-paying jobs that provided stepping stones to better positions. But the increasing availability of an immigrant workforce enabled nonunion janitorial firms to hire immigrants at half the union wage and quickly place them in jobs Americans once held. In its 1988 report, Illegal Aliens: Influence of Illegal Workers on Wages and Working Conditions of Legal Workers, the Government Accounting Office provided a detailed analysis of how Americans lost their good jobs to unlawfully present migrants.

Given what’s known - that more immigration means more people, a reduced quality of life, and more cheap labor job competition that undermines American workers - California’s determination to stay the failed course it has traveled for decades baffles those who look at the state from afar.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.