Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Alabama jobless rate falls amid immigration reform

Alabama’s unemployment rate fell at a record pace in November amid stepped-up efforts by President Barack Obama’s deputies to frustrate enforcement of the state’s popular new immigration reform.

The state’s unemployment rate fell 0.6 percent in November to 8.7 percent, according to new state reports, partly because the state’s employers opened up jobs to Americans after shedding illegal immigrants.

The unemployment rate is far below October’s rate of 9.3 percent and September’s rate of 9.8 percent.

“The continued drop is proof that people — American Citizens [and] legal migrants, have suffered at the hands of politicians who choose politics over economics,” said Chuck Ellis, a council member in Northern Alabama’s Marshall County.

“What’s really amazing is that in Marshall County, a county of 95,000 residents, 30,000 workforce eligible, there are over 600 people who now have jobs that they didn’t have 6 months ago,” he said.

In November the county’s unemployment rate dropped 0.7 percent, from 8.1 percent to 7.4 percent. “Is that a difference of great significance? Ask those families for an answer as they undertake the Christmas season,” Ellis said.

Department of Justice officials, including civil-regulation chief Tom Perez, have repeatedly visited the state to invite people to make claims of discrimination.

Perez is pushing ahead with a lawsuit intended to gut the reform, which was supported by members of both parties, and by both white and African-American legislators.

Perez’s efforts have been broadcast by many established media outlets, many of which have also highlighted the reform’s painful impact on illegal immigrants. Few outlets, however, have detailed the beneficial impact of the state’s falling unemployment rate.

Administration officials have cracked down on immigration enforcement by several states in partial exchange for promises by the Hispanic lobbies to spur turnout by Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters in 2012.

The lobbies had sought a federal amnesty, but rising public opposition has deterred Democrats from seriously promoting any amnesty since Obama’s 2008 election.

In compensation for their inaction, the federal government and allied Hispanic lobbies have already sued several other states, including New Mexico, South Carolina, Georgia and Arizona.

The Alabama reform copied federal immigration laws, making it more difficult for local entrepreneurs and businesses to hire or trade with illegal immigrants. Top state officials, including Gov. Robert Bentley, have said they’ll make some trims to the law in the new year to defeat the legal challenges by Obama’s deputies, business lobbies and immigration advocates.

In October, Alabama was ranked 37th-worst in the nation for unemployment. November’s numbers pushed the state up to 30th place, based on the October rankings.

In a complex economy, “it’s certainly plausible that immigration enforcement — and the subsequent drop in the number of illegals — enabled unemployed Americans to find work,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a D.C. -based advocacy group.

“Americans with the highest unemployment rates — young workers, less-educated workers, minority workers — are the ones facing the greatest job competition from illegal aliens, and thus would benefit the most from the departure of those illegal aliens,” he added.

The state’s new immigration reform gets much of the credit from local boosters, although stepped-up Christmas hiring likely played some role. However, Alabama reduced its unemployment much more than the adjacent states of Mississippi and Georgia.

In Georgia, the unemployment rate fell to 9.9 percent in November, down from 10.2 percent in October and 10.3 percent in September.

In Mississippi, the November numbers have not been released, but the state’s unemployment rate stayed steady at 10.6 percent in October and 10.6 percent in September.

In Alabama, the unemployment rate is lower in northern counties. For example, Madison County’s rate was 6.9 percent in November, down from a September level of 8.2 percent, according to the state’s Department of Industrial Relations.

The highest rate of unemployment are in the southern, majority-black districts of WIlcox, Perry, and Bullock. In November, their unemployment rates were 15.5 percent or greater.


Cheap Labor as Cultural Exchange: Full Series Now Available Online

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) report, “Cheap Labor as Cultural Exchange: The $100 Million Work Travel Industry”, is based on five months of reporting by CIS senior research fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist Jerry Kammer.

Table of Contents

Part One: The Globalization of the Summer Job. The story of SWT’s role in international diplomacy and of the intense, sophisticated, and lucrative recruitment both of the students whose fees fuel the industry and the employers who provide the jobs.

Part Two: Young Americans 'Don't Know How the System Works'. The story of young Americans displaced by SWT, which uses international job fairs to line up summer workers months in advance. A second story tells of the culture clash at Hershey, where the legend of a benevolent chocolate baron met the harsh reality of SWT.

Part Three: SWT in Alaska: Fish Sliming as Cultural Exchange. The story of SWT in Alaska, where some 2,000 'cultural exchange' workers take jobs that used to be magnets for American college students, including 1969 Wellesley graduate Hillary Rodham, now overseeing SWT as Secretary of State.

Part Four: 'A Cavalier Attitude': The State Department's Legacy of SWT Failure. The story of the State Department’s long history of mismanagement of SWT, including its indifference to its effects on American workers. Included is an interview with Rick Ruth, the State Department’s new man in charge of SWT.

Epilogue: An open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. CIS calls on Secretary Clinton, whose department oversees the SWT program, to reform it so today’s young Americans can enjoy the same summer work experiences as she did many years ago.

The series tells the story of the State Department’s troubled Summer Work Travel (SWT) program and its rapid growth over the past 15 years into a $100 million international industry that has spread around the globe. SWT is emblematic of a larger problem with the nation’s immigration system, where new programs are created and allowed to expand significantly without giving careful consideration to their impact on the labor market or the larger American society.

2011 was particularly turbulent for SWT. When the State Department issued new regulations in the spring, it acknowledged that some sponsors were neglecting their duties and that the existing regulations “do not sufficiently protect national security interests, the Department’s reputation, and the health, safety and welfare of Summer Work Travel program participants.” In short, the program had been infected by many abuses, leaving some participants defrauded and allowing others to be recruited by organized crime or strip club owners.

In the summer of 2011, Stanley Colvin, the State Department official who long directed SWT and other exchange programs, was quietly replaced. Then the Hershey protest brought global notoriety to the program. In November, the State Department, which had long promoted expansion of the program around the world, announced a freeze on participants at the 2011 level of 103,000. Finally, in December Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered an “extensive and thorough review” of the program.

Kammer, a former investigative reporter, tells the story of the State Department’s inability to establish proper management of SWT despite years of criticism by the Government Accountability Office and State’s own Inspector General.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Bryan Griffith, 202-466-8185, The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

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