Friday, February 6, 2009

Senate Stimulus: 300,000 Jobs for Illegals?

The Senate Stimulus bill currently being considered contains about $104 billion in new government funding for construction projects with the goal of creating jobs for millions of unemployed Americans. Unlike the House version, there is no provision in the bill to bar illegal immigrants from getting these taxpayer-funded jobs. This could result in several hundred thousand illegal immigrants receiving jobs.
The current version of the Senate Stimulus bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) contains $104 billion in construction spending, including highways, schools, and public housing.
Government estimates suggest this spending should create about 2 million new construction jobs.
Consistent with other research, the Center Immigration Studies has previously estimated that 15 percent of construction workers are illegal immigrants.
This means that about 300,000 of the construction jobs created by the Senate stimulus could go to illegal aliens (15 percent of 2 million).
Discussion: The $104 billion figure for new construction is based on the current version of the Senate Stimulus bill. Government estimates indicate that each $1 billion spent on construction should create roughly 19,600 construction jobs, each lasting a year.1 Thus $104 billion for construction projects should create construction-related jobs for about 2.04 million workers over several years. The Center for Immigration Studies has estimated that about one out of seven (or 15 percent) of workers employed in construction in the United States are illegal immigrants.2 Thus, if no effort is made to bar illegal immigrants from these jobs, it is extremely likely that about 300,000 will go to illegal immigrants. The House of Representatives version of the stimulus package has a provision requiring contractors to use the E-Verify system, which enables employers to quickly determine if new hires are authorized to work in the United States. At present, the Senate has no such provision. Contact: Steve Camarota

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