Jeff Jacoby

IF ANYONE ought to appreciate the power of immigration to stimulate employment, it is America's energetic anti-immigration advocates, whose jobs wouldn't exist if it weren't for the influx of immigrants they spend their days seeking to curtail.

Then again, appreciating anything about immigration — least of all the ironies of our endless debate on the subject — goes against the restrictionists' grain. Fulminating about immigrants is one of America's enduring pastimes, and it doesn't leave a lot of room for wry humor. Or for logical consistency. Which helps explain why immigrants can be depicted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as indolent leeches who flock to the United States to go on welfare — and condemned on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for taking away jobsthat would otherwise go to Americans.

Last week the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors sharp reductions in immigration, released a report purporting to show that all net jobs created in the United States over the past 14 years have gone to immigrants, both legal and illegal. Using data collected by the Census Bureau, the report's authors, Steven Camarota and Karen Ziegler, note that between 2000 and 2014, the number of working-age native-born Americans with jobs declined by 127,000, while the number of immigrants with jobs climbed by 5.7 million.

"This is truly remarkable," Camarota and Ziegler write, "because natives accounted for two-thirds of overall population growth among the working-age population." As a result, the number of US-born natives who don't have jobs — both the unemployed as well as those who have dropped out of the labor force altogether — has swelled by 17 million since 2000. The takeaway? Far more native-born Americans would be working if immigrants hadn't soaked up all the job growth since the turn of the 21st century.

But the report's incendiary conclusion — "What employment growth there has been has all gone to immigrants" — doesn't stand up to scrutiny.


Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for Townhall.com.