The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Anti-Immigration ‘Labor’ Group Misleads on Job Loss

By Sonia Scherr on May 19, 2010 - 6:59 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

A front group for several nativist organizations is airing television ads in Arizona that link undocumented immigrants to high unemployment.

The Coalition for the Future American Worker is trying to capitalize on momentum from the harsh new Arizona law targeting undocumented immigrants, according to a news release from coalition member Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). The 10-member coalition, which emphasizes immigration’s purported negative effects on American workers, includes two organizations that the Southern Poverty Law Center considers hate groups: the American Immigration Control Foundation and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR’s webmaster, Karl Filippini, serves as the registrant and administrator of the coalition’s website.

The ads — which are running in markets nationwide in addition to Arizona — contend that undocumented immigrants are taking away jobs from Americans at a time of high unemployment. In one ad, an unshaven man sits at a dining room table while a woman holding a child briefly appears in the background. “The president is doing next to nothing about 8 million illegal foreign workers while millions of Americans are jobless,” the man says. “I know. I’m one of them.” In another ad, a man wearing a sports jacket tells viewers that he doesn’t need 30 seconds to explain how to put Americans back to work because the answer is simple: Start enforcing immigration laws. Both ads urge people to call the White House to convey that message.

The ads are misleading, however.  Most scholars haven’t found a link between immigration —legal or illegal — and job loss, according to an article published last week by, a nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “Study after study has shown that immigrants grow the economy, expanding demand for goods and services that the foreign-born workers and their families consume, and thereby creating jobs. There is even broad agreement among economists that while immigrants may push down wages for some, the overall effect is to increase average wages for American-born workers.”

The nativist coalition has rolled out other ad campaigns in an effort to influence immigration policy. In 2007, for instance, the coalition ran an ad featuring a couple sitting at a kitchen table with a baby crying in the background. The husband tells his wife that he failed to get a job because “they hired all foreign workers.” The coalition also uses other approaches. During a 2004 Texas congressional race, it ran television ads that included images of dark-skinned men loitering on street corners and running from police cars. The ads were intended to help defeat candidates who supported guest-worker programs and other immigration reforms. Ultimately, however, both the Republican and Democratic candidates denounce the ads as racially inflammatory and asked that television stations not run them.

Ironically, the Coalition for the Future American Worker counts only one union among its members: The Communications Workers of America, Local 4250. By contrast, the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 national and international labor unions, has called for the repeal of the Arizona law, which gives police broad powers to detain those suspected of being in the country without documents and is widely seen as the nation’s harshest measure against illegal immigration. The AFL-CIO said the law will lead to racial profiling and “severely undermines workers’ rights.”

  • beholder

    tony rome

    “Only” enforcing a federal law? Since when do states have the perogative to enforce federal laws or vice versa? There is no “only” about it. That’s a critical weakness of the legislation.

    Furthermore your argument that innocent people should not concern themselves about being detained and asked to show their papers puts the burden of proof upon the accused, not the accuser, and is a frontal assault on our basic principles of justice.

    Not to mention that those asked will be disproportionately Latino citizens, which is discriminatory and prohibited by the Constitution.

  • tony rome

    Arizona is only enforcing a FEDERAL law that is already in the books. If you have nothing to hide than you shouldn’t have a problem with showing your papers. This issue is too far gone to argue that you needn’t have to ask for proof of citizenship. It seems that the only ones complaining are the ones who know that there will be a lot of deportations of their friends and family…so what if your here illegally than you need to be brought back to your place of orgin. Also if you are here illegally you do not enjoy the luxury of American rights. Time to clean house.

  • Mike Magruder

    I spend most of my nights wishing I could use my Celestron telescope to look at the stars but the electric tooth fairy is interfering as usual. After half a century this is getting really, really, really older than a lizard bone buried in the Arizona desert.

  • beholder


    How can this be a “liberal” issue? Our country was founded by immigrants, and in the very Declaration of Independence restrictions on immigration were prominent in the list of tyrannies worthy of revolution.

    At every major economic crisis in America, there has been a surge of nationalism and hostility toward foreigners and immigrants. Once the Germans were the target (sorry M. Madruger), because they kept their language, formed enclaves and had economically valuable skills like smithing that made them important in society. It was the Chinese for a while, as it was the Jews, the Italians, the Irish (Papists, bringing base morality and disease), the Eastern Europeans. Later it was the Mexicans.

    Yet, just as true to history, at each wave of nativism, the immigrants gradually fit into the fabric of the country and become accepted (in fact, pointing the finger at the newcomers).

    There are clear reasons why restrictionism and enforcement continue to be guiding principles in addressing the illegal immigration issue — but I challenge the premise.

    Is it better to squander our national wealth (taxes) on enforcement efforts that do nothing to solve the root causes of the problem (the 1986 law referred to above was NOT an “amnesty bill”, it was the toughest ever workforce enforcement law with a pathway to citizenship as a secondary or tertiary purpose).

    Zero tolerance always sounds like a good idea to many people in this country. But when you look at the failure to stop crime, and the costs involved with incarerating people, the “war on drugs” is a failure. Druggies need treatment, not jail time. Undocumented immigrants need documents, not deportation.

    They’ll just be back next week.

    We need more than provide legalization, for sure, but “amnesty” is not a reward to illegal immigrants. It is a reward to American taxpayers. It is by far the most sensible, pragmatic approach to 11 million people living in the shadows.

    But to do so robs America’s leaders of their favorite tactic to garner votes: fear. It’s a lot easier to concoct an enemy and a “war on immigration” than it is to fix the real problems in our economy.

  • Walt

    “Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.” – Testimony of Barbara Jordan, chairwoman, bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform

    Late U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan, (D-Texas), made the above remarks as part of her testimony to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on the Judiciary, some 15 years ago, back in 1995. Which was nine years after the “one time” amnesty of 1986 that we were assured was the certain remedy for illegal immigration.

    As the Bill Clinton-appointed chairwoman of the Commission on Immigration Reform, Rep. Jordan and her fellow members made recommendations to Congress addressing what was again regarded as a crisis in America – illegal immigration.

    They referred to their recommendations as a “comprehensive strategy for controlling illegal immigration.”

    The Commission’s recommendations included mandatory electronic verification of legal employment eligibility – “employer sanctions can work” Jordan said. On public benefits (taxpayer-funded services) Ms. Jordan’s Commission recommended against eligibility for illegal aliens “except in most unusual circumstances.”

    “Moral obligations work well enough in church, but the law requires a contract,” she correctly observed.

    “Deportation is crucial,” the Presidential Medal of Freedom award winner also advised.

    Ms. Jordan reflected the views of vast majority of Americans who are still waiting for equal protection under the law -justice – in their own country.

    Illegal immigration drives down wages, especially in the trades. As a former tradesman, I have a lot of friends in the trades, their wages have basically been frozen for about 20 years. One of my friends used to own his own roofing company until competition from companies who hired undocumented workers drove him out of business. Undocumented workers also hurt the wages of legal immigrants who have to compete for the same low-wage jobs. Undocumented workers hurt the employment chances of African Americans most of all. One of my friends – a Vietnam-era veteran – who had been doing warehouse work before being laid off more than a year ago and is now homeless, can’t find any warehouse work even though jobs are picking up in that area because he can’t speak Spanish, if he were bilingual English-Spanish he would have been employed by now. I have to always wonder when the US Chambers of Commerce start supporting a so-called “liberal” issue like immigration reform – what’s in it for them? Easy, more workers who will drive wages even lower. BTW – even though our corporate tax rate is supposedly one of the highest in the industrialized world, there are so many loopholes that over 60 of companies (including BP and Exxon/Mobil who made Billions in profit) paid absolutely no federal income taxes for 2009.

  • beholder

    Sorry if this if off topic but the human rights community needs to know.

    The Texas state school board (dominated by hard right ignoramuses) just approved sweeping changes to social studies texts including making students study how the UN supposedly “undermines” the sovereignty of the United States, and yes, Liberty itself, pretty much wiping the Civil Rights movement off the map, and putting in praise for the Moral Majority and the NRA. They stripped out changes such as B.C.E and C.E. instead of B.C. and A.D. (which will probably keep kids out of good schools if they put that in their essays). Kids will now get a strong dose of religion along with their state education, with special emphasis on Judeo Christian beliefs. The U.S. is no longer a democratic republic, but a “Constitutional” republic just in case anyone was thinking about voting for a commie Democrat one day. Critical thinking education was also stripped out of the texts, since kids don’t need that in Texas. Just lists to memorize and regurgitate.

    I wish I could tell you this is a joke.

    Why this matters is because Texas is a big buyer of books and its decisions tend to bleed over into other states as well. We’re talking about at least 5 million kids to be force fed this bullshit.

    Texas is increasingly becoming a state hostile to the basic principles of our democracy. This is not education. This is indoctrination.

  • Mike Magruder

    In all fairness I must admit that I’m probably about half German genetically.

  • Mike Magruder

    What’s really strange is that the English pilot who doomed the Bismarck with an high altitude photo was named Michael Suckling. The year I was conceived in Houston, Texas was the year that Claus Barbie, formally of the SS, joined USA Army intelligence. The next year the new state of Israel was proclaimed as I was born. I looked up a bunch of stuff online because of this and discovered a West Point cadet who’s middle name was Magruder. This guy was a real American Jew. ??? About the time of Master and Commander.

  • Mike Magruder

    Thanks beholder.

  • beholder

    Mike Magruder, that image is a keeper!

  • Anon

    If you want to stop illegal immigration immediately all you need to do is to make it a felony for employers to hire anyone without doing a E-verify first. No need to use Gestapo tactics like the state of Arizona.

  • Anon

    I wonder if Robert has ever heard the adage, ” Behind every fortune lies a crime “. American capitalism is a casino run by the racketeers.

  • Mike Magruder

    Lack of regulation as some sort of apotheosis is a big giant problem. Glorification of rampancy reminds me of Nazi parades and celebration. Inclusion of unions in this ultra right nonsense seems like another “National Socialist” propaganda tactic. I’m seeing mostly upper crust “apeshit” in all of this bluster and rhetoric. I picture an orangutan in a tuxedo, swinging wildly on a chandelier above a formal dining table while screeching. We hope its keeper, whoever that might be, hasn’t given it a purgative. A lot of this behavior is a one way ticket to eating tax funded bananas in a Federal zoo.

  • Emma

    Regulated capitalism seemed to work pretty well, until voters fell for the well-scripted speech of Ronald Reagan. An actor, he didn’t need a teleprompter to help him spin his web of deceit for people who think movies are real life. His Mr. Smith goes to Washington line worked well and he led us down the destructive road to chaos. Since his day, the uber capitalists have bought their way to control of Congress and the Reagan line worked so well the capitalists rode it all the way to where we are today, getting regulations of all sorts demolished as they went.
    No rules works well for those who don’t care who gets hurt in their rush to the cash register. The powerless and uneducated, and yes, ignorant, need to be protected from the sharks. Else we will have just what the British had in 1776, an aristocracy of the wealthy, riding on the shoulders of pathetically poor laboring class. Full circle from where this country started.

  • jeff


    are you with the Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers?

    do you consider the goal of evading taxation an “evil intention,” a timely question in light of the case of Bradley Birkenfeld.

  • beholder


    Check this out, from corporate tax experts KPMG. There’s a list of global corporate tax rates from several years up to 2009 on page 17. The United States is topped only by United Arab Emirates and barely by Japan.

    In other words our corporate taxes are virtually the highest in the world.

    By the way we’re just about the only country that does not have a VAT. I give it 5 years when the bill for the Bush era comes due. If you owned a multinational corporation right now, would you stick around?

    My point is not to carp about taxes, but just to illustrate that job loss is not due to immigration. If anything, the cheaper labor is keeping us out of a depression.

  • Bob

    It’s been demonstrated that the elites (super-rich) deliberately manipulate the markets to destroy the “little man” and increase their profits (they’ve profited by the present misery- also documented), they do NOT work any harder (or smarter) than anyone else for their money, and most did not work to get where they are AT ALL (their billions usually were inherited or based on stealing from someone else). Anyone whose wealth comes from theft (and I can even argue that most of the prosperity of the US is stolen), and who destroys the poor for profit, deserves the label “evil”. Those whose profits come from monopolistic behavior also deserve this label.

    Capitalism has destroyed millions of lives around the world, and it has been shown that when a “market economy” has been introduced to areas that had a subsistence economy (best thought of as “needs plus”), with the exception of the richest 5% or so, most people suffered a significant decrease in their standard of living. In many cases, it devastated the poor. There are countries in Africa that used to export food, but as their economies were forced into a market-driven system, they went from exporting to importing food- and people started starving. At the same time, ecological collapse in many areas can be directly tied to the “market economy” that was introduced.

    The thing is, if the rich would do with only a little less, the rest of us would have much better lives. Their greed for every penny of profit is what is killing people. The best economic system so far seems to be a VERY tightly controlled and REGULATED capitalism, with a living wage, “socialized medicine”, and so on. That is why there are so many countries – not pure capitalist like the US, with higher standards of living, and also that is why citizens from those other countries cannot understand why people support the ones who are misleading and harming them.

    It’s a little known fact that in this country, the period with the highest standard of living is when the rich had the highest tax rates (although I would argue that they were a bit excessive). Their taxes have crashed- it’s not a myth that most rich people pay less taxes than their employees, who get only a fraction of what they make. That is why we’ve been facing such problems- the rich are getting all of the benefits, but they aren’t paying their fair share.

    We can also trace the present hostility to immigrants to the rich, although the connections are a bit sketchy in places. As long as they can divert the blame for people’s problems from themselves to scapegoats (and it can also be shown that immigrants, like minorities, the poor, the homeless, the disabled, GLBT people, and so on, are being used as scapegoats), they will do so.

    I admit that this is a simplistic description of the real situation, but you take what I’ve written and multiply it and you get closer to the truth.

    What amazes me is how quickly the American public has forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression- YOU CANNOT TRUST THE RICH OR BIG BUSINESS!

  • Robert

    good point bob. Just don’t for get that “Big Business” is what makes up the majority of our GDP and that without them we would not have it nearly as good as we do. Also while capitalism is not a perfect system it has been proved time and time again to be better then any of the alternatives. Having money is not a crime. And most of those in that 1% had to work to get where they are at now and i highly doubt that they have evil intentions for the common man.

  • Eric

    And where are the jobs Americans need are going? To the People’s Republic of China, whose manufacturing standards are out of the Great Depression, and their human rights record is nothing short of barbaric, not to mention to India, where most of the people who work in call centers cannot speak good English.

    This country needs to abandon deregulated capitalism, which has been a bad idea and a flat-out failure from the beginning. Take the city where I live in, St. Louis, MO. We’ve lost thousands of jobs due to the closure of the Ford and Chrysler plants, American Airlines’ decimation of the former Trans World Airlines hub in St. Louis, the buyouts of May Company by Federated Stores of Cincinnati and Anheuser-Busch by InBev of Belgium, and the general apathy of local employers to young people who are fresh out of college. To blame everything on immigration, legal or not, is preposterous.

  • Bob

    For the most part, you’re correct. HOWEVER, Big Business (and the rich) have been enjoying the LOWEST level of taxation in decades, and most of the biggest businesses pay no taxes (unlike the small business owner, of whom I would agree are overtaxed). Big Businesses and the rich are the problem… and it can be shown that they both are behind the demonization of undocumented immigrants AND that they also encourage said immigration at the same time. The fact is, undocumented workers/immigrants are used to drive down wages and for political gain, the same as people who are homeless. Everything ties back to the economic policies driven by the top .1% of the people in this country and their rampant GREED.

    They’ve been shown to be behind the Dominionist movement, they’ve been shown to be behind racist organizations, and that includes the Nativist movement. They will fund what protects their interests- even if it is harmful to everyone and everything else.

  • Jimmy

    Why on Earth is a CWA local in this coalition?–that doesn’t make any sense to me at all, has anyone at SPLC talked to someone at the Local 4250 about this?

  • beholder

    This is a perfect example of one of the principal fallacies propogated by the nativist effort: an appeal to what’s known.

    We know that we have job loss and we know that we have illegal immigration. The fallacy is to suggest that one is the cause of the other.

    As this post observes, there are a number of reasons why illegal immigration has been shown to be broadly beneficial to the economy.

    There are other considerations however:

    1) Job loss is a consequence of global recession spawned by the irresponsible behavior of rampant capitalism and the complicit purview of our global financial regulators.

    2) Technological advances toward mechanization and automation of human labor has displaced more workers than immigration; at such point as our national economy moved from an industrial and agricultural producer to that of a service economy, we began to see a greater divide between skilled and unskilled workers and an increased emphasis on skills related to technology, service, and administration, which tend to require higher levels of education.

    3) Extremely high levels of taxation on businesses has not crushed the entrepreneurial spirit of the American economy, but it has tended to drive such innovation to tax havens. That, coupled with restrictions on credit currently in effect (a day late and a dollar short IMO), has made it harder for cottage and small business to take root and thrive.

    4) Wage labor has become the standard for economic activity, and its sustainability is dependent upon decisions that are taken by the few and that impact the many. While inherently not just, this system is not a result of the choice to employ unauthorized immigrants rather than US citizens and legal workers, but its cause. It would be better to foster small business, which puts greater responsibility upon the worker to carve out a living, while at the same time decentralizing the mass forms of production that provide for economies of scale that benefit primarily the owners of the means of production and not the general population which is barraged with products and services it does not need.