CBO: Immigration Bill Would Drive Down American Workers' Wages

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Immigration Bill

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) report on the Senate's immigration bill predicts that the legislation would drive down the wages of American workers and make it difficult for Americans to find jobs in an already-damaged economy.

On page seven of the analysis, the CBO and JCT conclude that the "Gang of Eight" bill would drive down American workers’ wages. “Taking into account all of those flows of new immigrants, CBO and JCT expect that a greater number of immigrants with lower skills than with higher skills would be added to the workforce, slightly pushing down the average wage for the labor force as a whole, other things being equal,” the report reads.

On the same page, the CBO and JCT analysis found that illegal immigrants who would receive amnesty, or legalized status, would see a spike in their income while Americans’ incomes dropped. “However, CBO and JCT expect that currently unauthorized workers who would obtain legal status under S. 744 would see an increase in their average wages,” it reads.

Similarly, a bullet point on page nine shows that CBO and JCT believe that demand for workers would “dampen,” meaning it would be harder for Americans to find jobs if the bill passed. “Although the average wage would be lower than under current law over the first dozen years, the minimum wage would keep the wages of some less skilled workers from falling, dampening businesses’ demand for those workers,” the analysis states.

These revelations in the report contradict a statement Gang of Eight member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) made celebrating the analysis's top-line numbers. “The CBO has further confirmed what most conservative economists have found: reforming our immigration system is a net benefit for our economy, American workers and taxpayers,” Rubio said in that statement.

In contrast, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, has argued the bill would depress American wages, as have several members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

“In light of recent debates on comprehensive immigration reform, we are writing to address a rarely-discussed effect of granting legal status or effective amnesty to illegal immigrants,” three Civil Rights Commission members wrote to members of Congress in April, arguing that the Gang of Eight bill would negatively impact America’s black communities. “Such grant of legal status will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment and depressing their wages when they do obtain employment." 

Rubio and his staff are currently facing a controversy over a similar matter, in which two of his aides suggested some Americans are not cut out for the workforce in an interview with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.


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