English—And Middle America—Undercut By Lawless Employer Greed
December 17, 2004, 04:00 AM
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The first semester at the Lodi Adult School, where I teach English as a second language, ended this week.

And once again, school administrators are scratching their heads wondering why enrollment is so low.

They reason that given Lodi's 125% increase in non-English speakers over the last decade, classes should be standing-room-only.

Of course, they're right.

So when the administrators called me—the senior staff instructor—into a meeting to discuss various ways to retool the class, I was happy to participate.

Ideas tossed about by persons less well-informed about the illegal alien invasion than me included the obvious suggestions: lengthen the daily sessions, shorten the sessions, add more days, reduce the numbers of days, etc.

But the reality is that our ESL classes are already so student-friendly that there is no way to make them more welcoming. Sections are offered from dawn to dusk. The classes are open enrollment with no minimum requirements for attendance. Students come and go entirely as they please.

So when my turn to speak at the meeting came, I laid it out plain and simple:

"The reason that attendance is low is that recent immigrants, both legal and illegal, can immediately access the job market regardless of their language skills."

In nearly two decades of teaching ESL, the biggest change is that because of non-existent interior enforcement, illegal aliens find jobs quickly and easily.

In the late 1980s, the sequence of events for a recently arrived illegal immigrant "looking for a better life" would start with language instruction and end (ideally, from his perspective) with employment.

But now, because aliens are instant candidates for gainful employment, learning English—never much of a priority for most aliens in the first place—is considered a waste of time.

Ed Rubenstein, my VDARE.COM colleague, has written extensively about this troubling trend. 

In his August 10th National Data column titled "Recent Immigrants Dominate the Job Market Even More than We Thought," Rubenstein cites the Northeastern University Center for Labor Market Studies that revealed that "new immigrants" are responsible for 60% of the labor force growth between 2000 and 2004. [Foreign Immigration and the Labor Force of the U.S.," Full report PDF]

Also included in the Northeastern study are data that I found fascinating because they mirror—in large part—the ethnic, age and educational demographic of my classes.

According to the Northeastern report:

"The overwhelming share of these new immigrant workers were young (under 35), male, and Hispanic or Asian. More than one-third of them lacked a high school diploma while another 28% held a bachelor's or higher degree."

This, with the exception of the high school diplomas, is the exact profile of the students who spend a week or two in my classes before moving on. (I estimate that fewer than 10% of ESL students have high school diplomas).

Earlier this summer, while researching two columns about cheap labor on Cape Cod, I spoke to the report's author, Professor Andrew Sum, who had just completed an earlier labor analysis, "Youth Shut Out of Labor Market."

Sum alerted me about his upcoming report regarding immigration and employment. He said that in all of his years of studying forces that impact the labor market, he had never seen anything that had a more dramatic effect than the availability of immigrant workers and the employment of foreign-born since 2000.

"The findings are beyond dispute," concluded Sum.

Sum's report concludes:

"Given the controversial but policy relevant findings on the immigrant role in U.S. labor markets over the past four years and its adverse consequences for younger and less skilled workers, the study calls for a sustained and high level national policy debate over the future role of immigration in U.S. labor markets. This topic should also be a key issue in the Presidential debates this fall. "

Well, the presidential debates have come and gone. And, as expected, Kerry and Bush dodged meaningful discussion about immigration.

But it certainly is not too late to press for the long overdue "national policy debate" that Sum encourages.

From where I sit at the Lodi Adult School, every single soul who comes to the U.S.—legally or not—looks for a job right from the get-go.

Meet a few who passed briefly through my ESL class on their way to full employment

  • Fahad—a recently arrived legal immigrant from Pakistan is working the swing shift at a local packing company.



  • Laura—stocks Christmas goods for Wal-Mart on the graveyard shift. If she does well, she's been promised a full-time job in January.

All my former students speak limited but passable English. And when an employer can pay significantly lower wages and wink at overtime and benefits, then he'll pass over the American worker to hire the immigrant. Language skills are a secondary consideration.

What now?

Rumors on Capitol Hill have it that President George W. Bush, in order to muscle through his version of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, pledged to consider the long list of reforms demanded by immigration patriots at the beginning of the next Congress.

I'll believe it when I see it. 

But if—miracle of miracles—Bush makes good on his promise to consider our version of immigration reform, he would have to secure the borders.

And that would not only limit opportunities for terrorists, but also cut off the endless source of cheap labor that is progressively devastating Middle America.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.