by Patrick J. Buchanan
September's unemployment figures were not only disappointing -- they were grim. For the 21st straight month, Americans lost jobs. Fifteen million are out of work -- 5 million for more than six months.
But as The Washington Times asserts, "America's jobless crisis is much worse than the 9.8 percent unemployment rate."
The U.S. economy actually lost 785,000 jobs in September, which should have pushed the 9.7 percent August unemployment figure far higher than just 0.1 percent to 9.8 percent.
What kept the increase to 0.1 percent?
Over 800,000 people quit the labor force in September. They packed it in. They stopped looking for work. That is six times the number who quit looking in August and five times the monthly average of those who have given up the search for work in the year since Lehman Brothers died.
Adding to the near 15 million unemployed those who have given up looking for work and those who have taken low-paying part-time jobs, the Times estimates the true employment rate at 17 percent. We used to call that a depression.
Yet, with nearly 25 million Americans unemployed, or no longer looking for work, or in low-wage part-time jobs, 8.5 million U.S. jobs are believed to be held by illegal aliens who broke into the country or overstayed their visas.
Why is this not a matter of national outrage?
For every job opening in the country, there are six unemployed Americans. With this surplus of idle labor and shortage of jobs, the men who do the hiring are in the catbird's seat. They can cut wages in the knowledge that desperate Americans will have to accept what is offered.
Comes the rote response: Immigrants and illegal aliens only take jobs Americans do not want and will not do. But, last month, a front-page article in USA Today demolished that argument.
When a 2006 raid on six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants rounded up 1,200 illegal aliens, 10 percent of the workforce, Swift was up and running at full staff within months. How? Native-born Americans in the hundreds came out and took the jobs.
Says Vanderbilt University Professor Carol Swain, "Whenever there's an immigration raid, you find white, black and legal immigrant labor lining up to do these jobs Americans will supposedly not do."
At one of the Swift plants out West, a workforce that had been 90 percent Hispanic, legal and illegal, before the raids is now a mixture of white Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Illegal aliens lost the jobs, and American citizens got them.
A House of Raeford Farms plant in North Carolina that was more than 80 percent Hispanic before a federal investigation now has a workforce 70 percent African-American.
Illegal aliens gravitate to jobs in construction, farming, fishing and forestry. Yet native-born Americans outnumber immigrants three to one in construction and two to one in farming, fishing and forestry, according to Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies. Illegals are thus taking jobs Americans not only will do, but Americans are doing.
The crackdown on businesses that hire illegals that has only just begun is not only enforcing federal law, but ending the exploitation of illegal aliens and opening up jobs for Americans -- black, white, Asian and Hispanic alike.
Since the 1960s, there has been a bitter battle -- breaking down along ideological and racial, ethnic and gender lines -- over affirmative action, quotas, preferential hiring, promotions and admissions to college and graduate schools, and contract set-asides.
Conservatives have insisted that if discrimination is wrong, it is not made right by making white males the victims and women and minorities the beneficiaries. Liberals argue that to advance economic equality and ethnic diversity, and compensate for past injustices, temporary discrimination against white males is an unfortunate necessity.
White fireman like Frank Ricci must be denied promotions they have won in fair competition, as African-Americans were not among those who passed the tests.
As votes on referenda in California, Washington and Michigan have shown, the American people reject affirmative action and preferences in hiring, promotions and admissions that are based on race, ethnicity or gender.
Americans believe no discrimination should mean no discrimination.
But there is a form of discrimination, a form of preferential treatment, which left and right, it would seem, may both support. It is based not on color or creed, but on nationality and citizenship.
If jobs are available in the United States, Americans should go to the front of the line to get them, ahead of illegal aliens. And as there are six Americans out of work for every job opening, it is time to call a moratorium on immigration. Why are we bringing into the United States over a million legal immigrants a year to compete for jobs against 15 million to 25 million Americans who can't find work or full-time jobs to take care of their families?
Who is America for -- if not for Americans first?