Immigrants Stealing the Stimulus?

That’s what USA Today seems to think–and it’s a message that CNN anchor Lou Dobbs unsurprisingly latched on to as well.

The factoid was born at the right-wing Center for Immigration Studies, which released a report saying that 300,000 construction jobs created by the stimulus package would go to undocumented immigrants. That report found its way to USA Today on March9 (“Illegal Immigrants Might Get Stimulus Jobs, Experts Say”). The paper made it seem like this conclusion was not at all controversial– “experts on both sides of the issue” agree. But that seemed a stretch: The pro-immigrant source, Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, “said it is impossible to predict with certainty” how many construction jobs would be done by undocumented workers.

And the Center’s numbers are certainly subject to debate. The Immigration Policy Center, for example, argued that the group is making some questionable assumptions. For starters, they rely onjobs projectionsfrom the Federal Highway Administration for highway projects–which may not be the best way to predict job creation in the construction industry overall. And theyestimate the undocumented share of the construction workforce from 2005–when the building industry was in much better shape than it is now, which would have attracted more undocumented laborers.

Of course, the underlying premise of the Center’s report–that you ought to be able to stimulate the economy without benefiting unauthorized immigrants–is silly. If the stimulus works, any worker in the country, legally or otherwise, is going to find it easier to get a job. Hoping that no undocumented worker gets a job as a result of the stimulus is hoping that that the stimulus doesn’t create any jobs, period.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.