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Labor Force Participation Rate Falling, Bigger Drop Coming

By Joe Guzzardi

Dramatic footage taken recently that showed thousands of migrants crossing the Rio Grande River, and walking into El Paso represents compelling evidence that the Biden administration’s immigration policy is out of control. A massive Border Patrol facility in El Paso erected to ensure immigrants were not detained outside in the elements has blown past its four-digit capacity. Hundreds of people were left to endure near-freezing temperatures, and to sleep on the street with small campfires their only warmth. Since December 12, El Paso border patrol agents have interdicted more than 10,000 aliens, as per data city officials shared.

But the videos tell only a portion of the current immigration muddle. The other part of federal immigration policy plays out behind the scene in the abyss of obscure immigration legislation that gets little media play even though all Americans, especially workers, are directly affected.

In early December, mostly unnoticed, President Biden and his Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to about 337,000 aliens from Haiti, Nepal, Sudan, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Originally slated to leave the U.S. on December 31, TPS holders got a re-up from DHS. The agency prolonged their residency period and their work permits until June 20, 2024, a benefit that allows them to compete with Americans in the U.S. labor force. In July, Biden extended TPSfor Syrians just as he had done previously for Cameroonians and Venezuelans before that. Again, more work permits all around—granted by executive decree. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services lists 16 nations that have been granted TPS including some countries hostile to the U. S.— Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

From the macro perspective —the physical immigration component at the open border, and the administrative giveaways from Capitol Hill— working-age migrants are crossing undeterred, and the TPS community is rewarded with employment permission. By the time Biden’s first term ends, millions of foreign nationals will have work permits. Only the smallest fraction of the illegal immigrants “temporarily” protected or the illegal border crossers, many of whom will eventually receive asylum or parole, will return home. Instead, they’ll become a permanent part of the U.S. labor force. Those who don’t received federally authorized employment permits may work in the underground economy, ordered by Mayorkas as off-limits to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that might otherwise begin removal actions.

Rushing to provide work permission on a large scale to the newly U.S. settled worldwide immigrant population is terrible timing, and will have severe long-term labor implications. In addition to the estimated 6.5 million illegal immigrants who will have entered the U.S. during Biden’s four years in the White House, the administration has increased TPS recipients by 500,000.

With the U.S. labor market struggling, adding thousands of work authorized immigrants will make employment conditions tougher for Americans. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that in November the economy created 263,000 jobs, the media was euphoric. But, buried in the news was the telling fact that the labor force participation rate had dropped to 62.1 percent from 63.4 percent nine months ago. The share of people working remains below pandemic levels.

An October Wall Street Journal story reported that 4.5 million Americans are working two jobs to keep apace with inflation. A Prudential Financial Inc. survey that the Journal also published found that 81% of Gen-Z and 77% of millennial workers said they have pursued gig work or are considering extra side work this year “to supplement their income…”

A dramatic influx of work authorized legal and illegal immigrants will exacerbate the problem that 100 million Americans are classified as “not in the labor force.” Moreover, one in six prime working age men, 25-54, has no paid work at all, a condition that economist Nicholas Eberstadt calls the rise of the “non-working class,” and its associated despair, “America’s invisible crisis.”

Biden’s multi-layered assault on U.S. workers—his welcome the world open borders that will include employment authorization and his administratively granted work permission for TPS designees demonstrates his callous disregard for American workers and their families.

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Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about immigration and related social issues. Joe joined Progressives for Immigration Reform in 2018 as an analyst after a ten-year career directing media relations for Californians for Population Stabilization, where he also was a Senior Writing Fellow. A native Californian, Joe now lives in Pennsylvania. Contact him at


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