Anti-Immigration ‘Labor’ Group Misleads on Job Loss

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 Factcheck.org, 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.”