Contrary to the common assertion that the immigration problem in the US is caused mostly by the lure of welfare benefits for illegal immigrants, there are a few other contributing factors largely unnoticed in the emotional and often partisan debate.
Consider the consequences of two wrong-headed US government policies: massive overinvestment in increasingly obsolete higher education for the middle class, and subsidized dependency that ensnares and perpetuates the underclass inter-generationally.
The former contributes to a massive shortfall in the number of qualified candidates for a variety of skilled positions, including many blue-collar sectors that could be populated with workers from the middle class if they learned a trade. The latter adds to the shortfall by discouraging workers from the underclass who otherwise could fill many of those jobs. This is perpetrated by creating economic incentives for them to remain dependent on the government dole, through a variety of assistance programs such as housing and childcare. The end result is an enormous void in the US labor force that is the predominant draw for many “illegals” – the lure of jobs.
How large is that void? On the last business day of July, there were 6.2 million job openings in the US, according to the latest figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, there also is a more market-driven factor too: the tremendous wage differential for unskilled and semi-skilled workers between the US and many other nations.
This creates a huge incentive for American employers to ferret out the lowest cost of labor possible, and creates a powerful motivation for workers to enter this country, legally or not. Some of the differential is due to historically higher capital investment per worker in the US versus other nations, and some is from artificial upward pressure on wages from unionization.