Obama Promotes Immigration Reform While Economy Worsens for Americans

While a new study shows four-in-five Americans will now face near-poverty and economic insecurity in their lifetime, President Barack Obama is pushing for a comprehensive immigration bill that the Congressional Budget Office determined would devastate the wages of working class Americans.

Repeatedly in interviews and on the stump, Obama last week vowed he would fight to increase the ladders of opportunities for middle class workers. But the immigration reform bill Obama said had to "get done" will only reduce opportunities for upward mobility for blacks and Hispanics who are unemployed or underemployed and for struggling white Americans that demographers refer to as the "invisible poor." 

The Associated Press revealed key findings from an extensive survey that found that nearly 80 percent of American "adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty, or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream."

"Economic insecurity" is defined in the survey as "a year or more of periodic joblessness, reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent."

By 2030, "based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity."

According to the survey, "hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures," and "63 percent of whites called the economy 'poor.'"

A record number of Americans, "46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population" remain poor. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are three times higher than those for whites, but "by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white."

Demographers refer to these working poor white Americans as "the invisible poor." They explain these "lower-income whites generally are dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white." They are "concentrated in Appalachia in the East" and "are numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America's heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains." They could also be suburbanites or the laid off.

In 2011, "12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty" and "4 in 10 adults falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives." The risks of poverty have increased for Americans in nearly every age and demographic group, and the risk "of "experiencing economic insecurity now" runs even higher: 79 percent, or 4 in 5 adults, by the time they turn 60.

Working class whites, "defined as those lacking a college degree" remain "the biggest demographic bloc of the working-age population"; only forty-nine percent think "their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of nonwhites who consider themselves working class, even though the economic plight of minorities tends to be worse." The study found that poverty rates for working class whites has grown faster than among non-whites since 2000, even though the poverty rates for non-whites remain higher. 

Yet Obama, while claiming to be a champion of the working class, is pushing for a comprehensive immigration bill that would flood the labor market across all income levels with immigrant workers, hurting those who are trying to get into the middle class--or slipping from it--the most. And although according to a Heritage Foundation study claiming newly-arriving immigrants will take more from the government than they put in, Obama continues to push forward, claiming new immigrants will spur the economy and make the federal government more fiscally solvent.

"As I indicated before, we know the economy will grow faster if we get immigration reform done," Obama told the New York Times. "We know that Social Security will be shored up if we get immigration reform done. And the Senate’s done the right thing by passing a strong bipartisan bill."


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