Update :

The current wave of mass legal and illegal immigration is inextricably linked to the erosion of the middle class in the U.S., and continued high levels of immigration will endanger the role of the middle class in facilitating the upward mobility of the nation's poor, according to a study released today by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). This growing income stratification between the haves and the have-nots in the U.S. was ignited with the legal immigration increases in 1965 and is pushing the economic class structure in America towards those of Third World countries.

"Mass legal and illegal immigration is fattening the rich, increasing the poor, and shrinking the middle," said Jack Martin, the study's author. "The American middle class, the primary social stabilizing unit in U.S. society, is being sacrificed on the altar of mass immigration," added Martin. "If immigration to the U.S. is not reduced soon, this undermining of the American middle class - arguably the economic and social backbone of this country - will inexorably continue," he added.

The study, "Rising Immigration Leads to the Declining Share of Middle-Income Households and Greater Income Equality," notes that California, home to the most legal and illegal immigrants, displays the greatest income inequality. California experienced an increase of about 710,000 low-income households between 1990 and 2000, with other large increases in poor households taking place in Florida, Texas and New York. Every top immigrant receiving state is experiencing a decline in the middle class at an accelerated rate, while states with lower levels of immigration are less affected.

Martin's research shows that the link between rising immigration and the declining middle class can be seen not only among the states but even more so when the focus is on the nation's metropolitan areas. The greatest increases in low income families occurred in high immigrant settlement metropolitan areas such as Miami, Los Angeles-Long Beach, San Jose, New York and San Francisco.

"The decline in the American middle class as a share of the population will rapidly accelerate if this country enacts a massive amnesty/guestworker program," said Martin. "The influx of additional huge numbers of foreign workers, combined with the existing impact of mass legal and illegal immigration, will further devastate the middle class and drive down wages and working conditions for America's working class families," he noted.