Term Paper: Does Immigration Hurt American Workers?

Pages: 12 (3978 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Immigration hurt American Workers

The era of globalization can be seen as one of the most remarkable periods in the history of human kind. There is an endless and unlimited access to markets around the world, to resources, and to an endless variety of workforce. It is often considered to be a real revolution with similar impact as the industrial revolution or the bourgeoisie revolution. The information era we live in has made available to the production forces around the world the entire array of labor in the world, without any regard for national barriers or cultural differences.

The United States, as one of the most important countries in the world has attracted tens of millions of immigrants in search for a better life and a place to fulfill their American dream. However, at this moment in history, it is considered by some that immigrants are redefining the balance on the work market; more precisely, they are both negatively and positively influencing the number of American workers and in the end the employment rate. Those who support the idea of the immigrant labor force as an efficient means for achieving a higher rate of profit consider that this eventual disequilibrium would eventually rearrange itself whereas the opponents of the immigration flow view it as a real threat to the social security of the American workers. Nonetheless, the two distinctive sides of the issue try to point out the benefits and shortcomings of immigration from various points-of-view.

The positive aspects of the immigration flow are presented by the pro-side of the debate.

One of the main important aspects of the immigration is the benefic economic impact. In this sense, it is wide known fact the idea that America is the result of the flow of immigrants that started to come to the United States since the 17th century (Briggs, 2001). Therefore, it is argued that first and foremost the immigrants represented an essential contribution to the idea of the national identify of the American territory and culture. On the other hand however, in an attempt to preview the negative aspects of immigration, Briggs acknowledges the importance of the immigration issue considering that "few issues have caused the American labor movement more agony than immigration. During periods of mass immigration, unions have struggled to find an appropriate response" (2001, 1). The author discusses the entire issue from its very beginnings in the 1790s. In that context, he points out there were various types of settlers which could have been accounted for immigrants. On the one hand, there were the Europeans, especially the British who, despite their foreign origin, were not viewed as immigrants. On the other hand, there were the African-Americans who came during the slave trade development. At this point, the author mentions that the society was forced to accommodate the increased labor force in the conditions in which the trade was not that developed and there were fewer natural resources than labor force. In this sense, the society had to evolve.

Therefore, the American Revolution followed by the Civil War and the Reconstruction period represented important moments in the history of immigration. The American Revolution gave new perspectives to the American population in terms of national identity and independence from the empire, an element which offered it the possibility to exercise a larger autonomy in international trade which reverberated in the internal labor market. From that point on, the labor force provided by the immigrant flow became essential for the development of the country (Briggs, 2001). The growing economy as well as the independent nature of trade made the U.S. To be forced to import labor force in order to manage to set in place the development plans of the country.

One of the first arguments against the issue of the immigration in relation to the workforce in early America was that it negatively impacted the equilibrium on the labor market. Thus, "immigration was perceived by most workers' organization as a menace to the development of American unionism. Unions have tender to focus on economic issues that impinge on the well being of workers. Hence, they have usually viewed immigrants as a short-run threat to their effort even though most immigrants, over the long run, enlarge the ranks of working people. Hence, immigration has always represented a dilemma for organized labor" (Briggs, 2001). Thus, at that time, similar to our situation today, there were mixed feeling concerning the issue of immigration, taking into account that short-term effects could not be compared to long-term ones.

Another important argument that tries to point out the fact that immigrant workers do affect the flux and the working system in America is one that points out its negative effects on the young generation of American workers. In this sense, "Over the 2000-2005 period, immigration levels remained very high and roughly half of new immigrant workers were illegal. This report finds that the arrival of new immigrants (legal and illegal) in a state results in a decline in employment among young native-born workers in that state. Our findings indicate that young native-born workers are being displaced in the labor market by the arrival of new immigrants" concluded the Center for Immigration Studies (2006). More precisely, in the period analyzed it was noticed that 86% of the newly arrived immigrant workers found employment in the detriment of the young American worker. From this point-of-view, the study shows that there is a certain preference for immigrant employees rather than native ones precisely due to the fact that foreigners are less reluctant to accept low paid jobs and precarious working conditions, concluding that "During the last five years, new immigrants have accounted for an overwhelming share of the growth in the number of employed persons in the United States. Native-born adults and established immigrants have been unable to capture much of the new employment opportunities that have been created in the nation since 2000." (2006).

Aside from the negative effect immigrant workers have on the opportunities of employment for the American workers, they are also considered to be responsible for the influencing of the wages of U.S. workers. In this sense, "recent influential empirical work has emphasized the negative impact immigrants have on the wages of U.S.-born workers, arguing that immigration harms less educated American workers in particular and all U.S.-born workers in general" (Rousmaniere, 2007). In this affirmation there are in fact two distinctive matters to be taken into consideration. On the one hand, there is the issue of the wages of the immigrants. Indeed, they are more willing to reduce their pay in order to have a stable work place. In response, the American employer is more willing to hire the immigrant at the expense of the American worker because he has better chances of raising a profit.

The second issue of the affirmation is the idea related to the less educated American worker. In this sense, it is clear that there are situations in which immigrant workers, depending on the country from which they come, can be better prepared than American workers. From this point-of-view, the immigrant, through his presence tends to raise the level of efficiency and of professional preparedness. This could be a negative aspect for the American worker in the conditions in which he is limited to doing only a certain type of business, and lacking any additional specialization.

Recently, there are more and more arguments that consider the issue of low skilled and low paid workers in America, pointing out that there is a large number of workers with limited skills and education. In this sense, "Alan Greenspan said America has an oversupply of low-skilled, low-educated workers. In fact the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rolls of millions of unemployed Americans include a disproportionate number of workers who do not have a high school diploma. Official unemployment rates for Americans without a diploma are nearly twice as high as for other Americans" (Beck, 2004). Therefore, from the perspective presented in this situation, it can be said that the importation of low skilled workers can prove to have a negative effect on the situation of the American unemployed.

In relation to this issue however, an additional factor that may play a role in the worsening of the situation on the labor market is not necessarily related to the workers themselves but rather to the quality of the work an industry based on cheap labor and low skilled employees manages to offer. In this sense, it is rather hard to argue the fact that in all cases, the level of skills of immigrants is high enough to support certain requests of the American and international market. However, their engagement in the production process would have an impact on the quality of the work. Therefore, it may be that not necessarily one particular worker would have to suffer, but rather the quality of the work required and thus, the prestige of the U.S. work.

The flow of immigrants and the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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