It is important remove ourselves from the ground-level work of analyzing a question for its own sake, take an aerial view from 30,000 feet above the ground, to look at why a question is asked in the first place. Why are we, and U.S. citizens in general, asking political and economic questions about immigrant labor today?
Prospect of Unemployment is Scary for Good Reason
Put simply, when Americans citizens think about labor, they think about their own jobs, and jobs for the people in their community. Which in economic terms is ultimately the level of employed American citizens; and what is the quality-level on average of that employment the citizens have on average. And when American citizens think of immigrants, they think of immigrant labor, which is the concept of people from other countries coming to live in America to work for firms in America.
Owners Seeking to Pay the Lowest Price to Labor – Always
Different classes of Americans will view the labor provided by immigrants differently. Owners of firms are looking for the best labor for the best price, and thus if that criterion is best met by immigrants, then owners of firms will desire immigrant labor. Firms have that basic relationship with immigrant labor.
Americans Aren't Owners, Americans are Labor – Including Psychologically
On the other hand, the majority of American citizens are not owners of firms and thus seekers of pay for the labor they can provide. So then the majority of Americans on an emotional level (that is to say without awareness of economic facts) would naturally see immigrants that come to America as competition for jobs. As a laborer, seeing immigrants as people who take money from a firm that would rather hire an immigrant than you, would naturally make an American citizen feel as though an immigrant has made the American citizen miss out an opportunity to make money. This is a natural theoretical conclusion to make. By which I mean, in a thought experiment, immigrant labor in the U.S. would seem to be a negative for American citizen laborers, and a positive for American firms who would seek to maximize their profit at the expense of the well-being of the American citizen labor force.
Worm's vs. Bird's View: Understandably Difficult for All to Look Beyond Immediate Experience
However, it is always best to look beyond the immediate experience of one’s own life with a deeper perception; one must examine studies conducted that are designed to manifest a system out of the facts, so that we can perceive with stronger tools of perception than are our own eyes. With the tools of mathematics, graphs, statistics, we can greatly expand our limited perceptions as human beings.
Allow for an overused metaphor to illustrate the reason why economic analysis is absolutely necessary for a human individual to understand the nature of the impact of immigrant labor on the whole of the U.S. citizen population. The metaphor is “You cannot see the forest for the trees.” When this metaphor is unpacked, it is meant to give a visual conception to an individual, of how the perception of their own eyes can blind them to the reality that is directly before their eyes, because all human senses have extremely limited ability to experience all of the dimensions of reality. The eyes can only see a small number of trees in the person’s immediate field of vision. Thus the person can only confirm that there is in fact a small number of tress in reality around the person. However, if the person could have a bird’s eye view, the person would be able to see tens of thousands of trees that comprise a forest, and not simply a small group of tress. Thus, if two different persons were standing in a forest, and each took opposing views as to whether they were in a forest or not, neither would truly be correct because they could not know by measurement, and in fact each would only be guessing. Thus, a way to distinguish the trees so that the trees could be counted would need to be devised in order to come as close to empirically proving whether there is a forest or not, otherwise all people are only guessing.
2. San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Opinions & Data
3. Brookings Institute Data
1. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) data on the number of immigrants in the U.S. should be fairly accurate, because tracking human beings in and out of the U.S. is perhaps the primary component that will allow them to perform their job well. In essence, the reputation and job effectiveness of DHS depends so heavily on its accounting of people, that I believe its staffers are as motivated as any organization to do everything in their considerable power gather the most up to date and accurate data on immigrants in the U.S.
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco as a Reputable Data Source (Region 12)
2. The 12th regional Federal Reserve Bank, is the San Francisco regional bank. Opinions and data from the San Francisco Federal Reserve bank have been chosen because it is a regional federal reserve bank in a state, California, that has particularly unique qualities when it comes to the concept of immigrant labor. California is situated in the most populous state in the Union, the state boarders with another country which is a primary trade partner for the U.S., the state has a high rate of immigrants in a all sectors, the state has one of the widest arrays of industries of any state, the state is home to many legal and illegal immigrants, and it is a state that is particularly prosperous. Though of course the 12th region federal reserve bank is not only focused on California, and no doubt other regional banks have just as accurate and significant analysis as the San Francisco Fed, I still think the symbolism of the FRBSF is the most suitable symbolic choice.
Brookings Institute as a Reputable Data Source
3. I am using a brief article from the Brookings Institute that has data that supports the data and claims of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, because Brookings is a reputable source for information, and it is important to have at least one cross-reference date point when reaching conclusions in research. The secondary point of view can either contradict one’s initial conclusion, or, if the source and its research methods are reliable, researching the topic using a second source will only strengthen the original conclusion. The Brooking institute was founded by government reformers, and is constructed so as to be a private organization that analyzes and critiques national public policy issues. Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the U.S., Ben Bernanke even writes a bi-weekly blog for the institute. Even if you are a person who does not agree with the decisions made by Chair Bernanke, what better experts can be consulted than people who had the power to make decisions that had real effects on the national economy?
Why the Economics Matter for Minorities in the U.S.
So let's understand the economics that underly the structure of things,
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Other Posts from Immigrants Series
Part 1. Let's Discuss Immigrants: Are Immigrants Good, Bad, or Neither? and Should There Be More or Less?
Part 2. Let's Discuss Immigrants: How Do We Begin to Think Through This Subject?
Rytina, Nancy. Baker, Bryan. Estimates of the Lawful Permanent Resident Population in the United States. Jan. 2013. Web. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ois_lpr_pe_2013_0.pdf
Singer, Audrey. Immigrant Workers in the U.S. Labor Force. Brookings Institute. Web. 2012. http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/03/15-immigrant-workers-singer - 1
Picture. 9 Secondary Data Sources. Slideshare. Web. 2010. http://www.slideshare.net/emolagi/topic-9-secondary-data-sources
Picture. Light-Bulb in Brain. Web. 2010. http://www.monash.edu.au/news/monashmemo/assets/includes/content/20100811/stories-print-version.html