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February 12th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Change immigration policy in light of job losses?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the U.S. economy hemorrhaging jobs, it might be time to reconsider this country's immigration policy.

Change immigration policy in light of job losses?

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in 1905. Is it time to change our immigration policy?

Just last month our economy lost nearly 600,000 jobs, hitting an unemployment rate of 7.6%. Since December 2007 the economy has shed 3.6 million jobs, with almost half of those losses occurring in the last 3 months alone.

Meanwhile, there are millions and millions of legal and illegal immigrants who have jobs in this country. These job losses also come at a time when President Obama is under increasing pressure from Hispanic groups, who helped get him elected, to loosen up on the more aggressive immigration policies of the Bush administration. They're calling on the new president to push for comprehensive reform that would balance law enforcement with new legal avenues to citizenship.

But some might wonder if now is the right time to make it easier for more people to get into this country when millions of Americans are struggling to find work. Remember when all we heard was that illegal aliens do the work Americans are unwilling to do? I wonder if that's still the case today.

Others insist that this is the wrong time to close immigrants out. Tom Friedman writes in the New York Times about the importance of opening the U.S. economy to a smart and energetic immigrant workforce. Friedman says protectionism didn't cause the Great Depression but did helped make it "great". Writes Friedman, "When the best brains in the world are on sale, you don't shut them out. You open your doors wider. We need to attack this financial crisis with green cards not just greenbacks."

Here’s my question to you: Should the government change its immigration policy in light of the tremendous loss of American jobs?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Marcus writes:
Halt all immigration until the unemployment rate is below 3%. Plus impose a 50% tax on all money sent back to home countries by non-citizens.

Russell from Little Rock, Arkansas writes:
While it is easy to blame immigrants for taking jobs that 'rightfully' belong to American citizens, the companies and individuals that employ undocumented and illegal immigrants are more to blame. Those companies that have chosen to offshore jobs are equally at fault and have contributed as much or more damage to this economy and the jobs situation as have the immigrants who buy goods and services, pay sales and payroll taxes, and pay rent in order to stay in this country.

Jim from Reno, Nevada writes:
Jack, no. Immigration policy should not be changed in an attempt to save more jobs for Americans. I agree with Friedman. We need new blood and energy, not to mention a dose of old world ethics and honesty. Maybe some new immigrant will start the next Microsoft.

Andy writes:
A moratorium on immigration is needed. It is driven by corporations’ control of Congress to have access to cheap labor and the Democrats’ desire to gain votes.

Doug from Dallas writes:
I wonder how many illegals have lost their jobs that no one knows about? Changing our immigration policy in light of the current problems makes no sense. Instead the government should adopt a fair and balanced policy that works regardless of the economic climate. Of course that would require thought and planning, both of which are in short supply inside the beltway.

Tom from Bradenton, Florida writes:
This is long overdue. While I am unemployed, I know someone who is here illegally, holds a part-time job, goes to college and is piling up thousands in student loan debts. Now you go figure.


Filed under: Immigration • US Economy
soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. Russ in Johnston, IA

    Depending on what the change is, Jack. I'll tell you what, though, if any illegal immigrant workers get jobs thru this stimulus bill, the legal American citizens ought to explode on Washington! Someone needs to monitor the hirings from the stimulus $$ so only American citizens are put to work. Stop the H1-B visa workers, too – over a million a year coming into this country!

    February 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  2. Mike from Indiana

    There is a difference between changing the plan, and enforcing the plan. Our government has failed us on this topic as well.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  3. Cory from connecticut

    As a student of history, the immigration concern has always fluctuated with the up-and-down economy. When our economy is good, the immigration issue isn't even a footnote in the headlines. Now that the economy is in shambles, it is now time to play every redneck's favorite game, "Blame it on the Mexicans."

    February 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  4. Tony from Torrington

    Immigration or ILLEGAL immigration? We shouldn't prevent people from working to become citizens of the United States. We should do more to prevent illegals from working and taking jobs away from Americans, and then going back home with the money they earned here. These people have no intention of becoming citizens.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Conor in Chicago

    Americans would do the jobs that immagrant labor does if it paid a livable wage. That said, the problem we have in this country is a brain drain. Think of how many H1-B visas are in this country. Those are folks from India who come here to work in Technology Industry. Why is this opportunity open to them? Because there aren't enough educated Americans working in IT. Not for lack of interest-not at all. It's lack of student aid to get a degree. Close that loophole and you won't have as many H1B's and you will have more employed Americans.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  6. Terry in Hanover County

    We shouldn't change our core values and beliefs, but we should also encourage employers to hire legal citizens first. What part of "illegal" doesn't corporate America get? I'd like to see employers who break the law and hire illegal workers do time in addition to paying heavy fines. Why is it that our country rewards bad behavior and punishes law-abiding people who come to this country legally or who were born here? I just don't get it.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  7. Randy from Salt Lake City

    Heck, it'd be nice it they actually enforced the immigaration laws that are already on the books.

    The stimulus money will go towards paying already filthy rich people, rich corporations, banks and companies that hire illegals, just like in New Orleans.

    Nothing good will come of it. Welcome to the Greater Depression. We are all doomed.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  8. Ron San Diego

    Hey Jack:

    Now there is a fresh thought. I think the number of foriegn work permits should be greatly reduced or eliminated entirely. In addition if there are employers knowingly employing illegal imigrants they should be forced to pay the income taxes for those workers. Moreover those that employ illegals prosecuted criminally. There should be a penalty for this. And I think those illeagls need to be deported, and their home country fined by the US. this would motivate those countries to keep their people in their homeland. This problem has been ignored long enough. Not to mention we need 24 hour patrols on every boarder mile between the US and Mexico, and the US and Canada.

    Ron San Diego

    February 12, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  9. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    The McDonald's by my work is hiring. I see no reason to change our immigration policy until the unemployed swallow their pride. Minimum wage is better than nothing, and you can still look for a better job.

    February 12, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  10. Beth, MA

    Tom Friedman's article is a powerful argument in favor of immigration. He comments, reasonably, that the economy isn't going to grow when the emphasis is on infrastructure no matter how necessary it is.

    The issue in the US is that too many people made exorbitant amounts of money pretending they were making money. The " be a millionaire by the time you are 25" mindset of the financial world did not create anything upon which this country can build. Why go into research or technology when you might have to wait 20 years to make "real" money.

    Friedman argues that new blood will lead to the creation of another Microsoft or Google. Is it realistic to think there is another Carnegie waiting for a green card? This was the country of innovation. Greed may have destroyed imagination as well as financial institutions and the economy.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  11. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    I love Tom Friedman. I know he is right in what he says, but encouraging the best and brightest to brain drain into America doesn't seem moral at any time but especially not when poor countries have desperation increasing.

    A women and children first attitude is typically American. It isn't in our nature to say, "To Hell with everybody else. We're out for number one."

    America will get by without stealing from the poor.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Stanley Abiri Little Rock, Arkansas

    Jack, the problem here is not the workforce. Whoever thinks that opening our borders to more immigrants would help should think twice. We have the necessary workforce needed. The problem in my opinion is the greed and and uneven distribution of our wealth and prosperity. You and I know how wide the margin is between those who really do the work and those who reap the profits. Employers are thinking of paying less and expecting more from their employees, and if the employees are unwilling to settle for the meager pay, then the employers ship the jobs abroad or pay those (legal or illegal immigrants) who are willing to take them for less pay. Why blame the immigrants? To fix this whole mess, there has to be a reasonable compromise between the employers and employees. Don't it baffle you to see that in the midst of this crisis some inconsiderate folks are taking home bonuses in the 'millions? And they are the ones that sit in well conditioned offices, while the laborers use their bloods to do the work for a meager pay. This reminds me of an African adage that says "the monkey does all the work, while the baboon sits and eat only".

    February 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  13. Rose in Az

    This country is long overdue for changing our immigration policy. Just ask the people in California who pay illegals medical care, food stamps etc. Calif. is broke and the illegals continue to drain that State and our country. Just think if everyone refused to pay their taxes until this is resolved, they can't put the whole Country in jail.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  14. Charlie in Belen, New Mexico

    Jack, this is a nation of immigrants. I live overlooking a valley that has been a route of trade and migration for over 1,000 years. I can document my family's membership in the Mayflower society and a Native American tribal group (Bureau of Indian Affairs). The history of this country is marred by the distrust and prejudice of each wave of emmigrants by those who came before, and they in turn for those who came after. There is always a "good reason" for not wanting these new immigrants, be it "lack of jobs" or religion or whatever comes into the little minds of those who want to keep others out. My grandfather spoke of the Russian immigrants who served with him in France in 1918 because they wanted to be an American citizen. My father and uncles spoke of the Japanese Americans they saw in 1944- 45. I had non-citizens in my squad of marines in 1965-66. I'd rather have them as neighbors than the "citizens" who want to close the borders to anyone not like themselves.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  15. Tim in Texas

    I'm confused, is this the Lou Dobbs show?

    February 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  16. Willow, Iowa

    Since so much has been outsourced, our country is filled with masters degree pizza deliverymen. We still have a lot of minimum wage jobs in lots of cities (they dried up years ago in small towns). So immigation probably won't hurt the economy noticeably.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  17. Jim, from Las Vegas

    Protectionism was tried in 1930 with poor results at best. However, there is a critical difference between then and now: the US is today a net-Importer of goods. At this point in time we NEED to protect what few jobs remain in this country. It is not just about illegals doing work that US citizens won't do, it's about companies that intentionally subvert programs like the H1B visa to hire foreign workers at pay rates far below what they would pay American workers. We need tarrifs to bring the effective cost of labor on imported goods up to our own minimum wage stanards. At that point we could open the flood gates to legal immigration as much as we wanted, the jobs would be here.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  18. Dark Cobra

    What kills me is the fact that out-of-control outsourcing has stolen millions of jobs from Americans and handed them over to many of the same countries that are exporting their illegal aliens to us in search of jobs here! Those countries got OUR jobs and we got their unemployed masses! What we "got" is . . . screwed! Pres. Obama needs to put Lou Dobbs in charge of this issue. He'll fix it. Give 'em hell Lou!

    February 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  19. Lucy in Massachusetts

    Jack I don't believe that the immigration laws should be changed but I do believe that so many jobs should not be outsourced to foreign countries anymore. However, I have experienced some of the best customer service ever since those types of jobs were outsouced to India. What does that say about American workers ?

    February 12, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  20. JD in NH

    Immigration isn't the problem, outsourcing is the problem. Outsourcing has cost my immediate area thousands of good paying jobs. We used to be able to absorb the immigrants coming into this country because we had a good living to offer them. Now we've got IBM offering their U.S. employees jobs in India . . . presumably at Indian wages. Maybe emigration will become a problem.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  21. Tina

    If you do not have the green card then you should not be eligible for work. Americans should come first. We have to survive or the rest of the world won't

    February 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  22. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Have mixed emotions on this.
    There are too many Americans, even the unemployed, that think certain jobs or pay rates are beneath them. Until they truly grasp
    the severity of the situation that will not change.
    Do not support illegal immigrants taking the jobs our workers
    could have, and, if the laws were enfored on these businesses
    hiring illegals, it could lessen the problems. However, cannot
    see these businesses agreeing to pay living wages to
    anyone.
    So, what is the answer?

    February 12, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  23. Jackie in Dallas

    That's a really thorny question, Jack. Normally I'm all for legal immigration. However, many illegals take work that even today, people don't want (you try talking a guy with a college degree who used to earn $75,000 a year into mowing YOUR yard!). I don't think any amnesty program for illegal immigrants regardless of ethnicity is right under the current conditions.

    Legal or illegal, immigrants from other countries don't seem to have the snobbery about what jobs they take...they are usually just eager to work. But with the loss of American jobs I think we'll see a slowdown in immigration, anyway. If they can't work at home, and they can't work here, at least they will be with their families and friends at home.

    As new jobs are created, I think, of course, that they should go first to American citizens or those already here on legal work visas. And I'd like to see some serious penalties enacted for two types of companies: those than off shore professional jobs to another country, and those who knowingly hire illegals.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  24. Doug - Dallas, TX

    I wonder how many illegals have lost their jobs that no one knows about? Changing our immigration policy in light of the current problems makes no sense. Instead the government should adopt a fair and balanced policy that works regardless of the economic climate.

    Of course that would require thought and planning both of which are in short supply inside the beltway.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  25. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    Jack, if the shoe was on the other foot and at the current rate it soon will be, these other countries and especially Mexico wouldn't even come close to allowing us into their country to work and get free medical coverage. It is long over due to move forward and close our borders.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  26. Lauro Silva-Brazil

    Well, in case americans are enough skilled and willing to do the work, no doubt, they should be given preference.However, immigrants should be allowed a determined rate of participation in attention to the foreign policy and getting along among nations.

    February 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  27. David in Atlanta

    I think the immigration policy we already have should be enforced and employers who hire illegal immigrants should be fined and jailed. If we stop shipping jobs overseas so that these CEO's can buy extra houses and yachts and enforce our current immigration laws, we might have a decent chance of getting out of this depression we are already in and caused by Bush and his fellow Republicans!

    February 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  28. Marva (Oklahoma)

    Absolutely! When the media picked up on the story that Microsoft was laying off thousands, I wondered: That thousand or so – are those the employees working courtesy of the special visa? Or, are those the few employees actually U.S. citizens?

    February 12, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  29. Gerry in Toronto

    Canada's immigration policy is doors wide open to qualified immigrants. Immigrants with cash to invest or degrees tend to get in quickly and there really is no annual limit on anyone who qualifies.

    Canada has had no banking crisis, no subprime mortage crisis,no bank failures ever and until recently felt no impact of this recession. Our health care cost is 50% lower than the USA , universal and free to all citizens and our life average is longer-destroying that nasty GOP rumor that universal heath care doesnt work.

    It costs GM $40.00 per car for healthcare for cars built in Canada and now almost $5,000.00 per car on ones built in the USA-and Americans wonder why GM is not profitable.

    All of our social security programs are well funded and have surpluses.Our government has had budget surpluses 12 years in a row and successfuly changed our debt to gnp ratio from 65% to 25%, versus about 65-70% for the US-not including the massive deficits about to be incurred.

    Frankly, we hope the USA closes it's borders for immigration, so Canada gets more and more Dr.'s, PHD's and folks with master degrees here.

    Maybe just maybe Jack its all those bright minds we let in the country that kept our financial system sound, our budgets in surplus and our health care healthy.

    PS-Don't tell that to Lou.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  30. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    Illegal immigrants aren't the problem, Jack... it's the millions of high-tech and white collar jobs filled with imported workers brought in with H1-B visas who are putting qualified American workers out of jobs...

    And then there are the millions of customer service jobs that have been shipped overseas to India and The Philippines that not only put Americans out of work, but degrade the customer service experience.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  31. Tripp Mechanicsburg, PA

    Just how green does the grass have to look on our side of the fence? I'm more concerned about visa programs being used by the likes of Microsoft to fill positions with cheap foreign labor instead of eager Americans who may lack only a modicum of training to do the same job. And what about the good paying jobs being outsourced to India? You can't snub your nose at minimal tax rebates in one question and turn around and gripe over less than minimum wage jobs in the next. You don't want to look like a hypocrite, do you?

    February 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  32. eric schrumpf

    Yes, immigration should have been changed ages ago, not because of the loss of American jobs, but because the current system is broke.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  33. Spartaco Margioni

    Now is not the time to be worrying about employment of non citizens.
    American business should realize that they are Americans first and have the duty to put American citizens to work before considering an immigrant. I am 53 and these are the toughest times I have ever seen in this country. We should not have to compete with non citizens for jobs. It would be no different if we were looking for work in a foreign country.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  34. Karen - Tennessee

    Jack, the economy isn't relevant. People shouldn't be able to wander in and out of the country at will, and people who work here should do so legally. Incidentally, I'm a legal immigrant.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  35. Silver

    It wouldn't work. People may be losing their jobs, but they still wouldn't be willing to pick fruit or work in the fields. No matter how bad it gets, most people don't want to get their hands dirty.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  36. jerry

    I think it was made clear to President Bush when he tried to push allowing amnesty to illegals that it wasnt something the voters wanted. If President Obama wants to pursue the same course of action it will not take long for someone such as you and Lou Dobbs to warn the American people and the switchboard at the Capital will light up again.
    It will be unwise for him to try to give away any more of America to illegals than already has happened.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  37. Sue Curtis

    There's every reason to strongly enforce our immigration laws now, more than ever. I am hoping Obama can muster enough moral courage to commit to the needs and policies that the times clearly dictate for America. Its time for aggressive search and deportation policies. To Tom Friedman: I've got brains too! I've got great brains! Hire me or someone just like me. Put money in the stimulus for retraining Americans for this new "change" and you'll see a movement that will take your breath away!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  38. Ralph - Missouri

    Our citizens come first when it comes to employment. Legal immigrants would come next. Since they are here illegally and broke the law by doing so, illegal aliens should not be able to have employment at all. They should be deported back to their own countries.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  39. Dan, Chantilly VA

    Messing around with immigration right now would be like changing your diet after finding out you have brain cancer. Sure eating healthy is important, but you probably want to deal with that cancer thing first.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  40. T

    I believe the jobs the legal and illegal immigrants work in the U.S. are jobs that even if offered to the majority of U.S. unemployed workers, they would not accept them.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  41. CELESTE

    Great point but difficult to address. It really comes down to doing what is necessary; there will be unhappy people as well as those who will be happy. You can not please everyone. Something definitely has to be done!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  42. LifesAJourney

    I have twice lost a job while foreign workers got to keep theirs. One job I lost to a higher educated person from India, although I have 20 years experience in my field. Another I lost to a company that has alot of British employee's and they protect their own here in the US. The guy I lost my job is here on a temporary work visa, and I was laid off by someone here from Ireland and her boss who is working here from the UK. Americans don't seem to stand a chance in their own country!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  43. Red Herring

    They should deport illegal immigrants who are already in jail, not working and costing taxpayers money.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  44. Bill, Bloominton IL

    This is not the time to loosen immigration policies. We need jobs first.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  45. Clint

    Yes, the immigration policy should be changed. It should reflect the interests of Americans first, and should not be positioned by political correctness. Unrestricted, or liberal, immigration policies have crippled and/or caused great turmoil in civilizations all throughout history. There will be a consequence for our long liberal immigration policy that does little to insure that newcomers assimilate into our society.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  46. Steve Cice

    Most people do not have a problem with LEGAL immigration. It's ILLEGAL immigration that makes people angry.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  47. Pat Howells

    What's the point no one does anything about it? Outsourcing our middleclass is at the root of this problem. Ever since the WTO our jobs are disappearing, our country is owned by overseas, and the media does nothing to emphasize what has and will continue to happen. Bill Gates and Intel, IBM and the list goes on. You should listen to Lou Dobbs.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  48. Pruitt Holcombe

    Ignoring the many other issues of illegal and legal immigration, the current job crisis calls for attention. Many of the jobs typically associated with illegal immagrants are now more appealing to down and out American citizens. It's not nice, but right now needs to be a time where American citizens and their needs need to come first.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  49. David Whitmire

    The bottom line is this: the United States of America is not Congress' or Obama's to give away.

    We already have plenty of our own poor, tired, huddled masses without importing more.

    We already have enough of our own poverty, crime, drugs, illiteracy, and disease without importing more.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  50. Luis

    I think that the policy should be changed but for the better, a comprehensive immigration policy would attract new ideas & workforce to create small businesses. People should stop blaming the immigrants for their purchases of foreign cars, tv's, toys for over a decade without regards to the effects that this had to the economy. Immigrants at least know that money can only be earned by hard work and not by inflating the prices of a house, were there was the conception that it would gain equity while the owner sat on the couch.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  51. Rick

    I think it would be a mistake to change our immigration policy. Rather than scapegoat immigrants as usually happens during an economic downturn, lets realize that we are a global economy and must work with that thought in mind.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  52. Joe

    Yes, change it so that it is harder for immigrants to come in.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  53. Marc W. McCord

    Jack,

    Not only is now not the right time to allow more immigrants, there is NEVER a time to allow more except in those positions where they do, indeed, make a significant contribution to our economy and our way of life.

    Arguments about not shutting out the best brains in the world fly in the face of the fact that migrant workers in the agriculture, construction and hospitality industry are anything BUT the "best and brightest". In fact, they are a major drain on healthcare, education, law enforcement, and the safety of our streets and neighborhoods.

    I am all in favor of legal immigration to fill jobs in technology and other major sectors where we do not have the necessary labor pool in our own country, but to use that argument as a fascade for allowing millions of low-level people to come here at the expense of the American taxpayer is a charade and a major disservice to this nation and its citizens.

    Dallas, Texas

    February 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  54. Paty CA

    No Jack not at this time. American and Legally naturalized Americans are struggling to get jobs and and keep their homes. Although illegal immigrants help to bost the economy in soem ways, i think this is a time to focus more on other important issues and Changing immigrations policy is certainly not a priority at this time.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  55. ned

    We dont need illigals.They take away jobs and lower the pay.They cost AMERICANS BILLONS of dollars a year,.just in social services.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  56. Patrick H.

    Absolutely not. Regressing back to xenophobic immigration policies of the past is not going to make jobs reappear, and it's not going to do anything to get this country of of the mess we've put ourselves in.

    Notre Dame, IN (20 mins. from Elkhart, where Obama was 2 days ago)

    February 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  57. Craig Wall

    Funny that anyone would compare protectionism with upholding our laws of citizenship has nothing.

    Do we need immigration reform and immigration control? Duh.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  58. just me!

    No brainer. Hire Americans first. Bring American jobs back to the USA. Stop the outsourcing. Take care of business at home first.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  59. Bob Consorti

    Seriously, why is this even an issue? All evidence shows that there was never a need for the 1.5-3 million “legal” immigrants we were letting in a year on the alphabet soup of visa programs. It was always a desire by business to replace higher priced US citizens with lower priced foreign labor.

    Now with job losses in the millions, why aren’t all the visa programs immediately stopped? It would go a heck of a long way towards creating the 3-4 million jobs President Obama wants to generate over the next few years.

    This is a no brainer – Just stop continuing to give the jobs to cheap foreign labor.

    I am disgusted with the new stimulus bill that allows the newly created jobs (at a cost of $250-$300K/year) to be given to illegal aliens. And the darn thing doesn’t stop banks from replacing Americans with foreign visa holders.

    Once again our politicians let us down. The only positive thing is soon there won’t be any Americans left with a job – I’m hoping the current morons in Congress will lose theirs soon too.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  60. John Huestis

    My concern are the huge number of H1 Visa workers from India in the IT field. I have been out of work for 7 months and I am an American Citizen and Vietnam Era Vet with over 40 years of IT experience and I know that many Indian H1 Visa workers with far less experience than myself are currently working in my community. Many of them are former co-workers and friends but I just don't understand why I can't find a job and H1 Visa workers with less experience than me are working.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  61. Andrew

    Long Island, New York

    Jack,

    It wouldn't make a difference. Most out of work citizens would rather stay home and wait for the next government handout than take a menial job. This is the bigger problem with this country. Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country is going to give you.

    God help us all.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  62. pedro adigue

    encourage professional immigrants. stop family reunification visas. old parents end up on SSI checks. others end up in jail or public aid.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  63. Larry Mitchell

    We love and welcome immigrants, as they are not the problem. Illegal immigration magnetically pulled by businesses breaking the law, and the un-enforcement of the law by our government is the problem. I don't even fault those who try to sneak in.

    If our government, businesses and citizens took our sovereignty seriously and stopped foolishly labeling those who wish to do so as 'racist', we'd be in a great position to do practical things like implement a respectful and dignified guest worker program.

    Larry Mitchell – The Republican

    February 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  64. Tanya, Long Beach CA

    They should enforce E-Verify now. They should also continue work sight enforcement as well. If enforcing our laws puts even only one American to work then do it. If our president pursues a "path to legalization" Then he will find me marching in the streets of L.A. on May Day!!! As for legal immigration they need to make sure that our "best and brightest" have positions first. Once they employ them if there are still any positions that they just cannot fill for some reason then look outside our borders.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  65. Sarah

    If you really want to stimulate the economy – legalize the immigrants. Give them the ability to come out of the shadows, buy homes, purchase cars, get drivers licenses. Penalize each person a certain sum of money – this could pay for the bail out recovery plan!! I think this is the perfect time to pursue this agenda.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  66. Jeff Smith

    For many immigrants the plan is to make money in the US and send as much as possible out of the country. This may seem to make products cheaper but there is no free lunch. We all pay. The chances are that immigrants are not paying into the social structure such as health care but they nevertheless use it. The hospital becomes the visit to the doctor's office and everyone's insurance premiums are bumped up to pay the bill. Illegal immigration is simply a loophole for immigrants to get free services and send money out without taxes and for big business to get cheap labor. The middle class pays for both ends.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  67. Penny

    I live in Nevada and many of the jobs that the illegals have are in Casinos. These are not jobs that 'others' would not take but it appears you almost have to be at least hespanic to get those jobs. They include room cleaning, kitchen help and general cleaning on the Casino floors. The builsing industry was doing extremely well here until the bottom fell out and now these people are further draining Nevada's services by being on welfare, getting free medical or at the least on unemployment. Speaking of welfare – just why it is that even when a welfare worker KNOWS someone is illegal they are not allowed to report them. If they do THEY are the one that looses their jobs. Seems like state are doing nothing but encouraging their employees to break the law.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  68. Barbara T

    My parents came to the USA after WW II leaglly. They were sponsored and had to payback thier passage by working for the sponsor and applied for citizenship shortly there after.
    The US was the land of opportunity then. Now americans need Jobs. We need to put Americans back to work. I also pray that the people we put back to work in construction by the stimulis package are americans not illegals that will work for nothing. I would hate to see my tax money get mailed to Mexico!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  69. Graham

    I'm a legal permanent resident who immigrated from Britain. If you make immigration policy harder lots of good people will find work elsewhere. The real problem here is education and the cost of housing. Foreigners are getting hired for high-paying jobs (ie. me!) because there aren't enough Americans who make the grade. Similarly, Americans can't take those blue-collar jobs other immigrants are taking, because the pay isn't enough to put a roof over their family's head. Fix those problems first.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  70. e.j.

    Didn't senator Dick Durbin write the H1B community a letter requesting them to justify the allottment they had to avoid getting their numbers cut? Didn't Microsoft's Bill Gates ask for more H1B's, now their laying off? Shouldn't now be the time americans get a fair shake when they have to bail out wall street anyways?

    February 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  71. Robert Sims

    We don't need new immigration laws, we need to enforce existing laws. We need billionaires like Bill Gates to stop trying to line his pockets further by lobbying congress for an increase of H1B visas. There is a very competent technological work force in this country, maybe it's time for Microsoft, and other high tech companies to employ the American people (the bulk of their market potential).

    February 12, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  72. Craig

    From what I have been able to gather, the majority of the immigrants coming in illegally are unskilled labor, not the "best brains in the world". I think we have plenty of laws on the books to control immigration and allow the "best brains" to come into the country. We just need to enforce the laws we already have.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  73. Naomi

    The government should not change its immigration policy even IF we had an overage of jobs! There is nothing wrong with migrating to American legally and getting a job but we definately should NOT encourage it! There is something VERY wrong with even considering illegal immigrants (key word: ILLEGAL) in the first place. They should have no rights in this country.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  74. Michael M

    I am less worried about the immigrants that have the jobs " that illegal aliens do the work Americans are unwilling to do", but more worried about the H-1A, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3 visa holders that employers are retaining over American workers and the policies that allow employers to retain and recruit these visa holders over the American worker.

    Employers are getting rid of American held jobs that pay between $50K to $150K plus jobs in the technical and professional jobs. These job losses are impacting the higher end middle class which is the infrastructure being ignored by both the former Bush administration and now the Obama administration.

    Employers are keeping this visa holders because they know they can pay them less than we American born workers and the employment rules for these visas allow employers to discriminate against us based upon these visas.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  75. Tmooz

    The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
    Yes, we should continue to allow the best brains in the world to come here. But it's time we stopped issuing green cards to their mothers, cousins, sisters, brothers, and more.
    The green cards should be issued to just those brains and their spouses, and kids under 18.

    In addition, as part of immigration reform with one-time legal avenues for illegal immigrants, the US should also pass a law abolishing automatic citizenship by birth. There are countless people who abuse this flaw by coming here illegaly, getting pregnant, and then using the child as their ticket to stay here.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  76. Pam

    I believe the borders should be re-inforced first of all! Second all illegals should be rounded up and deported no matter what race or background they hail from. Listen...why should I as an American be responsible for anyone who dosen't want to assimilate to our culture ie...learn english. Who are they to come here, earn salaries, and not pay taxes?! I say come the old fashioned way...legally!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  77. John

    We need ore talented people with well educated, highly qualified with PhD. We should attract these people, infact they are the one inventing new technologies in US soil and keeping others life easier. If we lose these talents, our R&D suffer and our economy too.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  78. Nelson Elias

    The commonly used phrase “that illegal aliens do the work Americans are unwilling to do” is not too far of a stretch. I don’t foresee laid off bankers, salesmen, lawyers and other folks affected by the economy going to take a job as a landscaper or for farm work. They are going to file for unemployment or take lower paying jobs related to the field of work where they were laid off from. So even in these hard economic times I think the mentality of I will take any work to pay the bills will be overshadowed with “I worked too hard to get where I am to do that kind of work” mentality. Americans are not saying I need to work on a farm or cut down a tree to pay my mortgage. They are filing for bankruptcy or simply not paying their mortgages and going through the foreclosure process.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  79. Kyle Webb

    Jack, this is simple. Let’s allow an easy path to citizenship for educated immigrants, and let’s stop those that aren't. Our educated citizens create more wealth and increase our competitiveness as a country. It's like stacking the team in sports; let’s just hope they aren't on steroids.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  80. Terri

    Immigrants have been coming to this coutry for a very longtime. That is what makes our country great. It is the illegal immigrants that really get under my skin. You want to come to the U.S. fine, do it the right way! The same way many immigrants have done it. Don't come to this country illegally and expect the same rights and privileges as all hard working Americans have. I do not think we should make it easy to become a part of this country, you should have to work for it and go through the proper channels as so many people have done. If you don't like then go back where you came from and let the rest of us work!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  81. Dan

    They need to find a way to legalize people already in the country. Simply just come up with a fee that will allow people to get legal status and in the process bingo...government makes a serious chunk of money that's gonna go back right into economy instead of sitting under their pillows.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  82. Lilly Grier

    Yes, we need MUCH stricter immigration laws. Those that are currently here illegally need to be thrown out, without exceptions and all the other excuses that are used all too often. I know a number of people who would take ANY job they could get. Illegals are not doing jobs Americans aren't willing too, that's always been a cop out and is even more of one now. And enough with saying illegals have rights! Yes, they have the right to be thrown out of the US and sent back from where ever they came from. They DO NOT have rights as Americans nor should they! If they had come into the country legally, that's another story. Immigrants should also have to learn English. Well, not just a passing few words. Ironically, those who came from this country legally, and are not Spanish speakers, agree with this almost 100% of the time.

    Bush's immigration laws weren't too hard, they were too lax! GET RID OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS! AND NOT BY MAKING THEM LEGAL!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  83. Raj

    I say make it very easy for university educated people from all over the world to come here and become citizens as quickly as possible. Keep everyone else (other than asylum cases) out. This will best position the US for success in the future.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  84. Sivam

    The immigrant is always a scapegoat. None of those CEOs is an immigrant. How come everything is always blamed on the immigrant in times of hardships? We all came to America and there is no reason to punish people who are doing the right thing simply because they are an immigrant. Changing the immigration policy just to punish somebody is not fair. Punish the CEOs of big bannks and Wall Street that got greedy and got people in this mess.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  85. Aida

    Ok, lets fire all them! Now, who is willing to work in the orchards or construction or meat factories?

    February 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  86. Ram

    Hello Jack, I am one of those legal immigrant, working hard for the 8 years and still in que for my Green Card.

    If I have a green card now, I am ready to make 20% down payment in silicon valley and buy a home in heart beat. But if I am denied, I will be forced to take all this money and invest back home. I am sure there are 100's of people like me who wants to buy a home but cannot because of the GC backlogs..

    February 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  87. Jae-Fayetteville Arkansas

    Jack,

    Out of the 600K + job loss, how many jobs do you think Illegal Immigrants qualify for? Do you really think the jobs that the illegal immigrants hold would be filled by the most americans? I bet my money that most americans that got laid off or unemployeed rather recieve their unemployment benefit checks than to wash dishes at a restaurant, pick oranges in the farmfield and all other jobs that lazy americans would not fill.

    So my answer would be YES. Obama admin should def reform the immigration policy so that the current illegal immigrants would have a chance to apply for a specific work visa(maybe a Permanent Resident stats after 10 years of work visa but no rights to a citizenship)and be able to work and pay taxes(including back taxes). Also, ensure that no more illegal immigrants come into this country.

    12 million or so illegal immigrants paying taxes could def help this struggling economy. If at least 6 million illegal immigrants start paying at least $2,000 in taxes every year that would be a lot of money that can go towards education, medical, and etc.....creating a immigration reform that would benefit America's economy and help give people a chance to live their dream!

    February 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  88. Wynter - Loudon, NH

    Your joking right? Illegal Aliens cant even get work!

    If a country has record unemployment why do you think people would immigrate there? This argument is so out of touch with the real problems we face it isn't even worth discussing.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  89. Dave

    I am a white male...So, one would think I am against immigrant workers. In this time, we need as many jobs as possible to help increase consumer spending. Now, my personal stance is we need to make it an easy process to become a citizen, however, we need to crack down on ILLEGAL workers. If you want to work here, then you need to do it legally.

    But, I'm sure President Obama, if pressured – will fold. We need a true leader now and unfortunately, it looks like we elected a democratic puppet.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  90. Tomm

    It is a good time for change. The laws currently have no path to get legal, once here. It's time they do.This would also create many jobs as the need to process people would be great, there is currently a huge backlog.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  91. Karthik

    Every country that I have been talks about this but Im part of a highly skilled force . We work here and also pay taxes like any other Americans.In turn I dont really get all the benefits that an american would get.
    Being part of an higly skilled work force only benefits the country and make it more stronger. I really dont believe this has got anything to do with the current job situation. Not everybody can fit in all jobs and thats why most of the countries have high skilled labor category. The success of any country is higly dependent on this.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  92. Aaron

    You know as well as I do Jack that this would just give Republicans much needed ammunition in their attempt to stay relevant in the media. I can already imagine the hateful and racist bigotry they would spew on the media airwaves. I had enough of that during the elections.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  93. Jack Shea

    The only change in immigration laws, if any, should be to tighten the policies. The horrendous situation we are facing today is partially due to the immigrants taking a major portion of America's jobs. Another issue is the over crowding we are now faced with. Same reason.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  94. Pat McCrary

    We need to see some changes in our immigration policy. Most means of legal immigration are fine and should continue. My issue is with the likes of programs like H1B, etc.

    For someone who has worked with people here on H1B’s, I find it laughable when companies talk about not be able to find legal residents (both citizens and green card holders) qualified enough for the jobs.

    The main reason for the H1B program is for companies to hire people for less money, no other reason. We need to think about our permanent residents first before others.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  95. Shanta

    Being immigrant myself, I feel there has to be balance, you just can't say loosen up or tighten up.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  96. Bern

    Most people don't realize how much job immigrants creates! They form businesses, they hire people, they buy stuff, they sell stuff, they pump money into the economny. With all due respect to Tom Friedman, this is not the great depression. The grocery store is still flowing with food and millions of ton of grains are still being burnt at the mercy of the US subsidy laws. Stop using scare tactics to attack on a group of people who are less afforded in their civil liberity.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  97. Ram

    You cant zero in immigrants, but you need to make sure those who get green card, or H1B Visa or citizenship for that matter does productively contribute to the American Land.

    One of the problem of shuttting the doors is that we do not really have that many Masters or PhD holders from the main stream american citizens..............these are the people who have potential to create more jobs.

    As Mr.President correctly pointed out the US has serious problem with its STEM work force.

    We need to cut down on immigrants who just earn money and pump it into other countries economy, and start encouraging Americans Education beyond just bachelors in Management (If everyone wants to manage , what are they going to manage?) and slowly then on reduce other types of immigrants.

    February 12, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  98. David Livingstone

    It is the ultimate strawman argument to attempt to link immigration, especially so-called "illegal" immigration, with job shortages in this country. It has long been known that immigration ultimately creates rather than costs jobs; immigrants need housing, medical care, consumer products, transportation, and other labor-intensive products and services just like the rest of us. Get rid of all the immigrants and you lose a substantial share of the market for these products, as well as the jobs associated with them.

    The problem isn't jobs being "taken" by immigrants; it's jobs being exported in the form of outsourcing or offshore production. Get the car companies to produce in the US instead of Mexico, and tech firms to stop sending IT work to India, and you'll really make a difference.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  99. Steve,NY

    Jack you can have CNN check out the history on this.
    Here are the facts:

    1) Back during the great Depression, Pres Hoover ordered the deprtation of all illegal aliens in order to make jobs available to American citizens that desperately needed work.

    2) Pres Harry Truman deported over two million illegals after WW 2 to create jobs for returning veterans.

    3) Pres Eisenhower dported 13 million Mexicans so that Korean veterans had a better chance at getting a job. It took 2 years, but he did it.

    If they could deprt illegals back than , they can sure do it today.

    It sounds like we don't have any real leaders (men or women) in Washington today.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  100. Jay from Phoenix

    To get a H1-B visa, a news paper ad is given by prospective employer listing skills needed, and salary offered for the job. If they do not find any local job applicants, they hire foreign person. In today's economy why we are not publishing all those jobs where a H1-B visa person is still working with his/her current salary. And when they publish the ad, they need to publish in Monster, Dice or a place like that and not in a local news paper with dwindling circulation.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  101. Larry

    If we are going to do it, now is as good a time as any. A good time to shut down the new imigration until all of the illegals are accounted for and then lets see what the policy should be after that. If all those millions that are here working were paying taxes it would help some. Why wait, just do something....

    February 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  102. No Brainer

    A Simple Immigration Plan

    1.Charge all illegal immigrants a $10,000 fee for there citizenship.
    (All crimals are to be shipped back to there countries)
    2.Give all of them up to two years to pay if they do not have it.
    3.Any illegals who don't sign up after 6 months ship back.
    4.Create more jobs in the immagration department to police and enforce for once established .
    5.12 million immigrants x $10,000 you do the math
    6.Everybody is happy Democrats,Republicans,Legal citizens and illegal citizens.
    7.And best of all we have 12 million new tax payers and buisneses that hire them.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  103. John in AZ

    Hey Jack. If "change" means more restrictions, then NO. No change is necessary, there were always theories by reputable Sociologists and Demographers that immigration self-regulates with market forces. Now we see some people packing up and heading back to their home countries (in fact, CNN ran that story just days ago), because jobs here have dried up. When will people understand that immigration is made a problem by our own policies?

    February 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  104. Prashanth Cherukuri

    Till when will America and Americans run away from the truth? Millions of Americans are jobless because they charge ridiculous amounts for work, and because they lack better skills to find a better job.
    As long as Americans thinks immigrants are the cause of the problem, they will only be fooling themselves. If you don't acknowledge the real problem, you're never gonna fix it.
    Austin, TX

    February 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  105. SK

    A Chicago economist had this idea..allow temporary skilled workers (say on h1) who are already here and working here to become permanent residents if they buy a house in the next few months (of course subject to all the background checks)..this will create enormous new demand clear out the housing market and save the economy very very rapidly

    February 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  106. C Smith- Kansas City, MO

    The whole immigration policy should be overhauled along with the welfare system. It has come to past that it's easier for immigrants to come into the country and receive automatic free education, housing and medical assistance than a taxpayer that has worked their adult life (35 years) and has recently lost their job seeking medical /food assistance. I believe the US could save millions of dollars by revamping the whole welfare system!

    February 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  107. Jose Morales

    Immigration is a historical fact, nothing can be done to increase nor to stop it. The market, not governments, decide how many workers are too few or too many. A global economy mandates a global workforce. Yet the US could save some of the enforcement money to fight more important foes such as drug violence and human trafficking, Legalization would increasing the tax contributions, selling and buying participation -including insurance, housing and other local spending- and other job creating benefits. The US now more than ever, needs more contributions from the hard work, the vibrant entrepreneurship and more willing assimilation of new, legalized immigrants.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  108. Reddy

    I never understood giving citizenship to illegal immigrants. I am a legal immigrant who pay taxes and abide by all state and federal laws. A simple misdemeanor charge could lead to jeopardizing my chances of getting a green card. Almost all legal immigrants are subjected to this requirement, then why an illegal immigrant whose stay in US is itself unlawful be treated any other way. Shutting down legal avenues for immigration will not bring in Einstein, Sergey Brin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Kissinger and countless other talented legal immigrants of the world to USA.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  109. George in Florida

    Jack, My parents came to this country 40 years ago with nothing and were able to build a good life and send me to college. Shutting out immigrants from this country is the WORST decision that could be made by our congress. We need to speed up legal immigration and find a solution for illegal immigration

    February 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  110. jakesaxton

    They should, but they obviously will not.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  111. Patty

    Absolutely!! My husband has been searching for work in the IT field for the last 6 months. He has over 20 years experience. If you look down the street, a person here on a H1 visa is doing a job that he can do very easily and in most cases better! Why are are non-US citizens working and we are suffering. That is far by the most unpatriotic move the government has ever made. Close the doors. No more.

    Patty'
    Suwanee, Georgia

    February 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  112. Kevin

    I think they should keep immigrants out if the Americans who have lost their jobs want to take jobs picking vegetables on the fields or doing janitorial work

    February 12, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  113. John from Nashville

    Jack:
    Its crazy to link immigration and our current dire economic state.
    We are all immigrants (well, except the very tiny minority amongst us)! Can we simply shut our doors and expect our problems to be solved internally?
    Globalization is here to stay and lets not get in its way!!
    Lets embrace it tight and it will make us all right!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  114. Granny Pants

    Dear Jack,

    One of the most unfortunate American myths regarding immigration is that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes and that they use our services.

    Well, even an undocumented immigrant with a false social security is not only paying taxes, but paying into the social security system as well, even though they will never receive a dime from these taxes.

    We need immigrants to pay into the tax system, especially the social security tax system to pay for the baby boomers retiring! We also need these immigrants to provide low cost in-home health care for aging boomers.

    Let's not look a gifthorse in the mouth! Who else will be doing the work of immigrants? I don't see lines of unemployed workers lining up to take these jobs, do you?

    Granny Pants

    February 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  115. Chris, Atlanta GA

    Lets see Jack, outsourcing of once American jobs to foreign countries, hiring of illegal and legal immigrants in America, no jobs for actual Americans born and raised here, why even call it America any more? We'll just be known as the natives.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  116. Tom

    No changes are necessary, we just need to enforce the current immigration laws we do have.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  117. Jose

    I believe, like in everything in life, there should be balance. I am an immigrant and son of immigrants but I was afforded the opportunity to go to school and graduated college with a degree in Engineering. Immigration is not a bad thing when it fills gaps in the workforce, particularly in areas of new growth. Allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to attend school and assimilate into society are goals that this country should strive for. A way out of the slavery that is having illegal status.

    Having said that, there are now a lot of people looking to fill the gaps that immigrants have filled in the past, this leaves you with a dilemma as to whether you tighten policies for illegal immigrants to free up jobs that people might not want to fill or do you continue to be lax about it and have people perceive that the government is not doing enough to create jobs. Just like the economy, it is another spinning plate that the President will have to juggle.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  118. Brandon from Ohio

    The immigration policy has needed changed for years. Illegal immigrants, when identified, should be immediately deported. When found crossing the border illegally they should be warned to turn back, and if disobeyed, they should be shot. Period. End of story. They do not have rights as they are not citizens. They assault American's legal citizens daily just by being here. They assault our health care systems and education systems. They assault us by committing crimes. Our government does nothing. Eventually someone will need to do something.

    I have also believed for a very long time we should be cutting down on the number of legal immigrants permitted into this country. The path we are on currently is a path to anarchy.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  119. Lisa Ledford

    If the immigration policy does not change NOW, it never will. Any and all new jobs created/offered should be designated for AMERICAN WORKERS. It is funny you did not see Democrats speak about immigration during the campaign. They have no choice now. According to our papers, here in Charlotte, NC, more than a million of ILLEGAL immigrants have left the US and gone to their original countries because there are no jobs here. If the American Taxpayers are going to pay for this SPENDING bill, the jobs better go to those Americans. I wonder, will the Obama Administration have a Task Force to enforce this? A good reason for the permanent placement of E-verify!! If Americans see illegals given jobs, I wouldn't doubt you'd see "race riots" like you did in '68. They will just be different 'races.'

    February 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  120. WPaul, Indianapolis

    I am glad atleast one person (Cafferty) in the media undertands that who wants other mouths to feed when your own don't have anything. There are more than 130K H1-B, and other class work visas issued each year. Add them for the last six years and you have a million jobs taken away from Americans. You can instantly create 1M job if you cancel all those visas and send them home. As far Mr.Tom Friedman, his comments are an insult to the American intelligence. We have invented more things and hold patent to more inventions than all the countries in the world put together. Microsoft, Cisco to name a few whined for more H1B visas and now they are laying off workers. These business giants better layoff foreign workers before they layoff any American worker. The DOJ should reject all H1B and worker visas from companies that have laid off American workers till they take back every citizen. There! I have created a million opportunity for our intelligent, innovative, energetic American. workforce

    February 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  121. Raj S

    Hi Jack, I think US should put hold on to H1-b visas...We have more smart people here then in the world, just need to motivate them.
    Best regards,

    February 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  122. Rick Van Eman

    Not only is illegal immigration driving down wages and taking jobs from U.S. citizens – but LEGAL immigration is also. The H1B visas bring is tens of thousands of IT programmers and engineering professionals every year. The genesis of the IT staffing started 10 years ago with the Y2K scare. Well, that has been over for about 9 years...so the only reason to bring more of them in now is CHEAP labor. We should drastically cut or eliminate the H1B and other visas based on the unemployment rate of U.S. citizens. We can't seem to get fair trade agreements to stop outsourcing manufacturing jobs...maybe we can at least stop importing cheap labor in these professional areas. Otherwise, what jobs will there be for the students who will be getting all this 'stimulus' help?

    February 12, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  123. Paul

    Yes, America should change it's immigration requirements. We should strenuously enforce our current immigration laws, reduce the number of guest worker programs for jobs to those "best brains" that aren't actually better than what we have home grown; specifically anybody not working directly in research and development. (I'm sorry, but your average IT H1-B is no brighter than your average IT American, but with a cultural and language deficiency).

    So yes, let's welcome those shining stars. They go through the legal channels to get here anyway. No R&D lab is going to pay them 60% of what their American, Chinese, or European colleagues get. They are not even a peripheral component of the real debate.

    However, if you are here illegally, then you are breaking the law and should be dealt with accordingly. Many of the defenders of illegals like to claim we are "a nation of laws". If that's true, then lets enforce them.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  124. Gayatri

    Well... it is sad that no one knows much about legal immigration. There are 2 types of legal immigration - one in which people come from companies, take the knowledge and go back. In taht case, yes - it is a jolt to the economy.
    But consider the other category who have been working full time here. It is good because they have good credit scores, they buy houses, financially sound. They generate more jobs as they create comnpanies. They do not really take american jobs as Americans are less technical and more in medical, legal, fields.

    Let me tell you:

    1) I came here to study, spent $16000 in TX to pursue a Masters. Rented house in university.
    2) Started working and today bought a house. Ofcourse with a fear that if I do not get GC, I have to sell my house.

    If US does not help me with immigration, why would I encourage anyone else to come and study here ?
    Why should anyone buy houses ?

    I bet there are more than 1 million people with houses waiting for GC but another 3 million planning to buy houses if they GC.

    Think !!! We got our first stage in GC approved as they could not find a local american. If we are taking local jobs, why did u clear the first stage in green card called labour certification ?

    February 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  125. Lucas in Pawling, NY

    You know Jack we should do it like the Australians do. If they have a shortage of Neurosurgeons, Civil Engineers or Hairdressers they get them from a pool of patiently waiting immigrants.
    Having said that, I still believe that the lawns in Beverly Hills would be brown if it wasn't for the Mexican illegal workforce.
    As an employer I can tell you that in my experience those that we label illegal are often the hardest working people out there.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  126. Vinodh

    Come on Jack...Are you Crazy??!! Aren't you forefather's immigrants to this great country?? Legal immigants are the life blood of the US economy and this made US the greatest nation on the face of the planet.
    Please dont get too innovative to cause another mess like what we are going through in the financial system today!!
    Take a break...have a good sleep.

    Vinodh
    Atlanta, GA

    February 12, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  127. RJ

    I am a legal immigrant. I have to file tons of paperwork every year and pay a lot of money to lawyers and applications to stay in status. I pay my taxes and buy American goods. I do jobs that Americans don't want to do or don't have the qualification to do. Now why do I do this because I love this country the same as any other hardworking taxpayer....Oh by the way, I also lost my job like the rest of the 598,000 in January. I am tired of hearing that we are taking all the America jobs. The solutions is to have more of your kids in schools, colleges and universities and be more competitive. Then you will see the true 'Change'.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  128. William

    I would get the illegals out of the country, to cut down on expenditures from these leeches. Also, eliminate citizenship by birthright, just like Ireland did, eliminating anchor babies. I would stop handing out work visas (H1B, for instance), and if any company that currently has them lays off people, the immigrants are the first ones that need to go. America for Americans! There aren't any countries looking to help us out, after all we've done for them!

    February 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  129. Jbiv

    Don't change the policy, just enforce it!

    It immigration is done the legal way, we should welcome it. If not, kick them out!

    February 12, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  130. Kathie

    I do not think now is the time to change immigration policy given the economic woes of our country. We are all trying to keep our jobs or get new ones, if possible. At this time, we are not the land of plenty. I do have problems with the illegals here and they should go back to their own countries and let their countries help them. We just can't do it all. We do not even have enough food or money to feed our own. I wonder if we ever going to get it right!

    February 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  131. Jaime, Sunrise Florida

    If the situation is really so dire, they'll take care of the problem by leaving to be with their families. On the other hand if it takes skilled laborers to get this country back to work and no one is willing to do that work, maybe we need them here.

    In fact, with our aging population and the need for physical laborers combined with the added social security and payroll taxes that illegals end up paying into the system without getting benefits back, maybe we need more illegals to shore up our Social Safety nets.

    Heck, why don't we just go the full 9 yards, blame foriegners for all our domestic troubles and enact a bunch of protectionist measures while we're at it. I hear xenophobia is a great economic stimulator.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  132. Alison Cattelona

    I think it is actually an excellent time. I've been in favor of Immigration reform hoping that it would have been taken care of in the last administration.

    Several reports have stated that legal and illegal immigrants are heading back to their home countries, due to job losses. I think that the pressure isn't as great as before, so the time to act may be now, before the economy gets back on it's feet and re-entry begins. Make those illegal immigrants who are otherwise law-abiding and have a job go through the process, pay their taxes and become legal. If the reports are correct, it will be many less than we were looking at a year ago.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  133. Mike Buettell

    Jack, the government does not need to change immigration policy. If things get much worse around here, Americans will leave the country. Just imagine a boat load of Michigan auto workers landing on the shores of India or China looking for work in one of their auto plants.

    San Juan Island, Washington

    February 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  134. Dave

    No Jack, the government should not change its immigration policy.
    Arizona is a perfect example of how tuff immigration laws are making a difference………….Thanks….Dave

    February 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  135. Peter Keating

    I believe in legal immigration. That is one of the ideals that this nation was built on. My grandparents found a better life by immigrating to this country. The concern I have at this time is in regards to H1B visas. My understanding is that companies needed them when they couldn't find qualified U.S. works to fill the positions. Those circumstances must certainly have changed. I know that at this time I'm making less that I was 5 years ago because of the hugh influx of technical people on H1B's has driven salaries down. It is difficult to invest in the economy if you are unemployed or under-employed. This is an issue that needs to be revisited.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  136. Yasir

    The US immigration system needs a policy overhaul as it is still stuck in the 20th century mentality. Back then, USA attracted immigrants as it was branded the land of opportunity and it lived up to that reputation.

    However, the global economic balance is slowly shifting and the economic development of nations like India, China, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai have made these countries realise the importance of retaining and attracting top talent. Prospects of living in these emerging economies are promising for talented folks who consider themselves global citizens.

    So shut the door if you will to not let others come in, but don't be surprised when people ask to open the doors again but this time to be let out.

    As for the semi-skilled, US immigration policy was never really inducive for them in the past nor will it be in the future. So these folks will continue to resort to coming in to the united states by hook or crook.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  137. Peacecitizen Immigrant US Citizenjdny

    Mr. Cafferty:

    Good question and timely, too.

    Look, immigrants have never taken and will never take the jobs from those who want to work: the greater majority of immigrants are honest, hard-working people who are willing to work hard to make life and things better. What I'd suggest to President Obama is this: legalize all illegals through an easy to access method, have each of the hundreds of thousands who will apply pay a nominal fee, and millions, if not billions can be raised to help get this country towards recovery. It's a great opportunity to make things right for a class of citizens who've mistreated for decades, and a chance to raise much needed funds for this country. My two cents. I'm sure a hand-full of bigots out there will say otherwise.

    February 12, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  138. Christie Remsen

    We live in Southern Calif where 2-3 years ago there was a major building boom and it attracted many illegal immigrant workers to the area because there was work as day laborers for them. Now the building has stopped, but they are still here. My business partner is a contractor with over 15 years experience and he is losing work getting under bid by the same unqualified and unlicensed workers. Taking care of the immigration problem would not only take care of the work and money issue, but also the increase in crime which has developed as a result of the many unemployed migrant workers which still live in this area. you bet it's a good time to take care of the immigration and illegal alien problem!

    February 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  139. Allison

    I am an American citizen. I hold a Master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and can't find a job in the state of California. I lost my job in December when the enrollment in the program where I taught dropped by 25% due to the economy. My livelihood depends on immigrants coming to the United States and bringing their families, whether I teach the workers or their children. I must admit that when I hear people encouraging the government to close our borders to legal immigrants, I fear for my career.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  140. Pat

    Time for Mexico use it's resources for the benefit of the health, education, welfare all it's people and not only the rich....so that it's citizens can enjoy their own country.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  141. Wil Zeger

    Time to shut legal immigration down, a time out as some have
    suggested. The U.S. accepts a million legal immigrants a year,
    and another million illegal immigrants. California is bankrupt
    in part because of illegal immigration. Time to focus resources
    on Americans for a change, help ourselves out of this mess.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  142. W C FRENCH

    Our fedral government should change the immigration laws and protect the hard working tax payers and with all of the citizens of this country unemployed , why would our government import 138,000 illegal foreign workers each month ?

    February 12, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  143. Eddie A - Cumming, Ga

    Former presidents deported illegals to allow for jobs for unemployed Americans, as recently as Eisenhower. Is that wrong? I think not.

    Eddie – Cumming, Ga

    February 12, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  144. Ron from Michigan

    It is unfortunate but I do believe unemployement rates shoud effect our immigration policies. America is barely taking care of its own people as it is, how can we handle more. I feel when the unemployment rate reaches certain numbers then the number of people we allow to come into the country needs to looked at more closely. It is almost like a mother that is on public assistance that still becomes pregnant, she can not afford the children she has but she still wants more.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  145. sakibaba

    I am a legal immigrant living and working in OC in the high tech industry. My household income is more than $100K. I want to buy a home and invest but due to the immigration mess my green card application is stuck in the backlog for maybe 6-10 years.Let me stress again: "I am a legal immigrant." There are hundreds of thousands like me who want to invest in the US. Its not that I am new here , I have worked and lived in US for 7 years now legally .Anyways as long as the legal immingration reform will be held hostage by the anti immigrants who like to muddy the lines between legal and illegal immigrnats to further their own nativist agenda I guess people like me who live by the rules and follow the law of the land will land up being the ultimate scapegoats in this mess. Also the media does not care because 12 million(illegals) is a much better sound byte than law abiding tax paying couple 100 thousand(legals)!!!

    February 12, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  146. Greg

    Of course the government should change their position on immigration...its bad enough that Americans are losing their jobs every day, let alone having immigrants take more of our American jobs. Unfortunately, this question will fall on deaf ears as I suppose "legal" immigrants as well as Americans will get unemployment benefits, but the government wont have to worry about the "illegals." Its all about the bottom dollar.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  147. mary drecksage

    jack, I saw first hand how the illegal immagrants took american jobs and how they live in this country. I left a job in 2001 and realized that it would take an average of 8 years to work up to $10.00 per hour which doesn't afford and appartment no less a home, i've come to realize that our government is anti American and they want to continue allowing this slavery, I doubt they care what we think.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  148. Reddy

    Hi Jack,

    Friedman talked about legal immigration only and didn’t discuss illegal immigration in his article. His point is that there are thousands of Indians and Chinese brains waiting to get Green Cards for several years now. Since, untill they get green cards their future is not secure in America so they are not buying any houses, not opening new businesses which they are very well capable of. They can help stimulate the economy by investing in America rather than going back to their home countries and using their wealth and intelligence there. Also, there is a need to change the mindset, please separate the issue of illegal immigration from legal immigration when you disscuss immigration. We, legal immigrant, follow laws, came here by legal routes, got higher education here (big percentage among us). So, please in your discussion today keep the focus on LEGAL immigration if you are talking about Friedman’s proposal.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  149. Markie

    Jack we already have laws on the books about imigration. We just need someone to enforce them. ICE is a joke, I called them after I was turned down for a job building the new Library in Augusta Ga. Jack there had to be atleast 30-40 illegal imigrants doing work that American's should have been doing. If they were all legal I'd stand on the 50 yard line at the Super Bowl in my B-day suit.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  150. Scott

    Having applied several times for these jobs no American want's, I am tired of hearing this arguement. Once with Nevada Power and secondly with Southern California Edison. I now have a meter reader who wears no uniform, doesn't live in my neighborhood, and doesn't speak English.
    Like so many other corporations, they no longer have any community ties to whom they serve ( and who line their pockets ).

    Thousand Oaks, CA

    February 12, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  151. Gerry Sowder

    Isn't this the land of the free and all that? We are a nation of people from all over the world.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  152. Abraham, Delaware

    Jack, I'm an immigrant from West Africa. I got my MBA in August of last year while working as a truck driver for a very big company. They paid for my MBA but still cannot give me a promotion, although I've demonstrated in every way that I'm highly qualified. I just had a presentation with four managers after which my boss acknowledged my qualifications. But I'm still a truck driver. Jack, do you think I would be driving a delivery truck for such a large company that's still hiring if I were from here?
    Immigrants are not the problem. Look for someone else to blame, please.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  153. MGM

    We need immigration reform to allow these undocumented workers to come out of the shadows. We can't deport 12-20 million people. First, it would cost billions of dollars and it is very impractical. Something President Obama and Congress can do immediately, is pass the DREAM Act, which is targeted toward undocumented students who were brought to the U.S by their parents. They consider this country their home and are more than willing to help with this country's economy. It has bipartisan support and it is the right thing to do.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  154. Tom Delgado

    Easing the immigration laws at a time when our economy is in turmoil makes about as much (cents) as the recent irresponsible use of artificial insemination.

    Tom in Texas

    February 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  155. Marilyn, Powell Ohio

    Do we have a policy?

    February 12, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  156. Raags

    I guess we need to change it and make it permanently – so that we get and others get the clear message – I think your question should be on 'outsourcing & illegal immigrants' – legal immigrants are also a strong force in making USA prosperous. If anyone feels Legal Immigrants are to be blamed – better scrap immigration once for all. This will give USA a strong foundation to not depend on immigrants when they need and fire when dont need. Better to have this on constitution. There are loopholes in the immigration laws – which lawmakers know but no one take decisions. Not to mention, i am a legal alien who also pays tax and is part of helping us to come out of this mess created by greedy wall st CEOs who are to be fired out this country. They are shameless and senseless creatures who took us and other countries to worst financial crisis.

    Thanks,
    Raags

    February 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  157. Sean Maisey

    "When the best brains in the world are on sale, you don’t shut them out. You open your doors wider. "

    Sounds great, but the problem is not the "brainy" and educated end of the spectrum. It is the masses of unskilled migrant workers who have flooded into our country. They put a severe strain on our schools, and other social systems and sorry but they definitely take jobs away from unskilled Americans.

    And they are not necessarily "doing jobs Americans don't want to do". More often they are working at cut rates for cash off-the-books, living in group housing and sending money home. Do we really want our American citizens competiing with this employment model?

    Sean
    Williamsburg, VA

    February 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  158. Pretee

    Quit blaming LEGAL immigrants. LEGAL immigrants are the greatest asset of this country.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  159. Gigi

    Well said David Livingstone. We talk about our jobs being shipped over seas daily. But we don't hear it enough in the media. Bringing our jobs back to the USA is more needed than a new immigration policy. When a community grows jobs grow with it. When you ship our jobs overseas are jobs disappear, the rich get richer and the working class gets bitter/frustrated.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  160. Rich Wright - NC

    My "policy" regarding immigration is simple.

    "You are welcome to my country. In order to stay in my country you must register, get a green card, work toward becoming a citizen, and pay taxes. Oh, did I mention you must obey the laws of my country?

    We NEED people who want to become citizens, who want to be part of the fabric, part of the solution, and will take pride in living in our country.

    Our country was founded on "foreigners" with no green cards. We've always welcomed people to the melting pot. Why have we changed? Think about it.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  161. Nichole - Tulsa, OK

    Your question only asks about immigration, not ILLEGAL immigration. If someone from a foreign country wants to come to America and become a legal citizen, I fully support that. My main concern with illegal immigrants is that they're certainly taking from the pot (i.e., medical care, public school, etc.), but what exactly are they putting back in? Living in America is like being in a country club – you have to pay your membership fee.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  162. legalImm

    The real question you should be asking is "Should the government change its immigration policy in light of the tremendous loss of American competitiveness? " America is loosing jobs today by the millions, NOT because of the immigrants here, but because of the fact that America is loosing some of its competitiveness. Detroit is a classical example of this 'loss of competitiveness = loss of jobs'.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  163. Dolmar, Colorado Springs

    Clearly, the government should put a halt to issuing ANY green cards until 3.6 million new jobs are created and filled by American citizens. But when it comes to the government, the obvious isn't always obvious..

    February 12, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  164. Dan

    Now Illegal Immigrants who came to U.S. Legally should allow the path to legalization. H1, H2 and other employment category visa cap should be lower down.

    February 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  165. Bobby

    Jack the reason we are in this mess is because of the financial crisis and who should suffer for this – of course the legal immigrants. Why should we not put in the jail the people who are responsible for all this in the first place?

    February 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm |