NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 26, 2006

If today's wave of immigration does not end in assimilation, it will be a failure, says columnist Robert J. Samuelson. By this standard, the guest worker program, if adopted, would frustrate assimilation.

Advocates of the guest worker program want 400,000 or more new foreign workers annually. This would supposedly curtail illegal immigration and cure "shortages" of unskilled American workers. However, poor, unskilled immigrants create huge social costs, says Samuelson.

According to the Census Bureau of 2004:

  • Since 1990 the number of Hispanics with incomes below the government's poverty line has risen 52 percent.
  • Over the same period, Hispanic children in poverty are up 43 percent; meanwhile, the numbers of black and non-Hispanic white children in poverty declined 16.9 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively.
  • Hispanics account for most (61 percent) of the increase of Americans without health insurance since 1990.

By most studies, poor immigrants pay less in taxes than they use in government services. As these social costs have risen, so has the backlash:

  • Already, there's a coalition of Mayors and County Executives for Immigration Reform. Coalition members want the federal government to reimburse their extra costs.
  • The reform includes some 63 cities, counties and towns, headed by Republicans and Democrats, ranging from Cook County, Ill. (population: 5.3 million) to Gilliam County, Ore. (population: 1,187).

There exists a conspiracy against assimilation. One side would offend and ostracize much of the Hispanic community. The other would encourage mounting social and economic costs. Either way, Americans get a more polarized society, says Samuelson.

Source: Robert J. Samuelson, "Conspiracy Against Assimilation," Washington Post, April 20, 2006.

For text (subscription required):


Browse more articles on Government Issues