Yes, immigrants compete for these entry-level jobs most directly with Americans who lack a high-school diploma...Hopefully the "Jobs Americans won't do" bromide is now moribund. The WSJ employs the usual smearing of immigration realists (calling them "leftist economists"!) and proclaiming a sealing of the border to be impossible, even though the same op/ed board cheers the success of the Israeli security fence. But there's a better way:
Our answer is that a closed economy ultimately would make America a less competitive and hence poorer country...Control of the border and the institution of a merit immigration system and/or a reduction in the total number of immigrants permitted entry is not at all synonymous with a closed economy. What happened to the rudimentary economic idea of core competencies (including human capital)? What a strawman. Continues the WSJ:
We'd have less human capital, and because we'd be using the human resources we did have less efficiently.No, we'd be using it much more efficiently. Having migrant fruitpickers depressing wages (and by extension, technological innovation), filling almost a third of our federal jail cells, and sending $17 billion a year back to Mexico each year is an incredibly inefficient use of human capital. Having the brightest provide services and otherwise take care of this growing underclass creates deadweight loss.
After downplaying the impact of immigration on wages at the bottom, the WSJ states:
Immigrants also increase the demand for labor, not just the supply. That is, they are also consumers who create jobs by buying goods and housing here.
Criminals increase the demand for prison guards. Cigarettes increase the demand for lung surgeons. If we annex Mexico tomorrow, US GDP and jobs will enjoy double-digit increases, but the more important measures of PPP and worker productivity will drop by 20%.
The real estate price explosion is fueling an economy built on unjustified home equity loans. People are spending more than they make. If you're among the 100 million Americans who don't own a home, affording one is the toughest it's been in 15 years. Unskilled immigrants need places to live. So they push up the cost of housing. This is a boon for homeowners, but for natives who don't own a home--disproportionately those same people whose wages are being depressed--the chance at the American dream we use to defend irrational immigration policies is getting ever smaller.
After suggesting that open borders make the US more competitive globally, we learn what the industries are:
The domestic carpet industry based in Georgia has managed to survive and thrive due to immigrant labor. The same holds true for meat-packing plants in the Midwest...
The agriculture industry certainly would attract more Americans if it paid $50,000 a year to pick lettuce in the noonday sun, but not without raising the cost of food and other things. It would be more expensive to eat out, for example, and fewer people would do so as a result, affecting the restaurant industry, among others.
Carpet-makers, meat packers, fruitpickers, and dishwashers. Taiwan, Bangalore, and Hong Kong better watch out!