What You're Not Hearing About Unemployment and Immigration: Guest Opinion

Why aren’t the more than 21 million people looking for full-time work in the United States and a record 91.5 who aren’t in the labor force dominating debate in Lansing and Washington, DC?

Jim Runestad, 6th District Oakland County Commissioner, lives in White Lake. Photo submitted
Jim Runestad, 6th District Oakland County Commissioner, lives in White Lake. Photo submitted

By Jim Runestad, 6th District Oakland County Commissioner

As we give thanks for the season I am reminded of the many unemployed here in Michigan and across the nation. These workers have lost jobs, income, and homes, but most of all they have lost the dignity that results from being able to provide for themselves and their families through their own hard work and initiative.  

The Great Recession and the “recovery” that has yet to materialize have disproportionately affected the working and middle classes, while providing a boon for the economic and political elite. Since President Obama took office, Wall Street profits have soared to record heights while income and employment levels have plummeted.  

The labor participation rate now stands at a 35-year low and there are 1.5 million fewer people working today than there were before the recession began, despite the working-age population increasing by 12 million during that time. Are these the signs of a strong economy?

Although a lot of politicians espouse all the right bromides, there is little evidence that they truly care that their fellow Americans are struggling to find stable, well-paying jobs. I doubt that many politicians who are firmly ensconced in office and well-fed by special interest lobbyists lose any sleep worrying about constituents who are out of work.  

The proof of this is that the establishment wings of both parties are pushing amnesty as the only way to “grow the economy.”  What they fail to tell you is that the economy will grow in a way that continues to benefit a narrow elite at the expense of the American public.

There are over 21 million people looking for full-time work in the U.S., and a record 91.5 million are not in the labor force. Why is this not dominating debate in Lansing and in Washington, DC? It is because politicians are far removed from the economic realities working men and women have to face – one reality being competition for jobs from illegal workers who provide a discount to employers.  

That taxpayers are being bled to fund unemployment programs and other benefits for marginalized Americans only increases the power of the officeholders who control the purse strings. In order to hide their real agenda, politicians who support amnesty cloak their intentions behind the shroud of compassion, while never showing compassion for Americans who are being treated like second–class citizens in their own county.

For Republicans pushing amnesty it comes down to a short game. They are seeking campaign cash from corporate donors whose political goal is to depress wages of working Americans and thus to increase profits.  This economic model depends on taxpayers to foot the bill for all the costs of increased immigration, including healthcare, education, and public safety. It’s a good deal for big business interests, but one that has proven unpopular with the average American, despite the relentless media campaign to convince us otherwise.

For Democrats, it’s all about voting demographics. While blathering on about a “living wage” or “income inequality,” they know all too well that they can garner 65 to 70 percent of the immigrant vote while pushing amnesty, which if passed would expand the Democratic base considerably.  

Democrats are more than happy to sell out working-class Americans as they play Santa Claus with taxpayer monies. They believe amnesty will ensure a bloc of millions of new impoverished voters who will help bring about a permanent Democratic majority.

There are legitimate disagreements about the best way to reform the immigration system. But shouldn’t reform that puts the interest of the American people first be something that the leaders of both political parties can agree upon?

(Jim Runestad, 6th District Oakland County Commissioner, lives in White Lake.)

Do you agree or disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


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