Mike Scruggs

Does Congress Care about American Workers?


By Mike Scruggs –

Since the extraordinarily shortsighted Immigration Act of 1965, which created the phenomenon of “Chain Migration,” U.S. immigration laws have benefited new immigrants and employers looking for cheaper labor costs. Their benefit was, however, at the expense of most American workers and taxpayers. The business lobbies whose constituents benefited from this reallocation of wealth soon realized that they possessed a highly profitable competitive advantage dependent on a steady supply of cheap foreign labor, legal or illegal. This supply hinged on Federal Government immigration policy. It is not surprising that these business lobbies have found lobbying Congress for more immigrants, guest-worker programs, amnesties, and reduced immigration law enforcement a profitable investment.

Our immigration problems were tremendously expanded with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. What President Reagan thought was supposed to be an amnesty of a little more than a million turned out to be nearly three million. Biased estimates, rampant fraud, and sloppy and half-hearted enforcement accounted for the difference. In addition, the enforcement provisions of the 1986 Act were blocked by various disingenuous legislative and legal means.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, $1.5 billion was spent on immigration lobbying from 2007 to 2012. Most of this money came from ethnic activist organizations (seeking more political power), universities (with a vested tuition revenue interest in more foreign students), chambers of commerce, and industries that profit from cheap foreign labor. These institutions have developed a globalist ideology that assumes all immigration is profitable to America. That ideology remains popular, but it is based largely on nostalgia, the bias of self-interest, and badly flawed analysis.

Harvard Labor Economist George Borjas, himself a Cuban immigrant, has aptly described our present immigration system as a transfer of wealth from American workers and taxpayers, to new immigrants and business interests using cheap foreign labor. According to Borjas’s research and analysis, from 1980 to 2000, average American real (inflation adjusted) wages were cumulatively depressed by $1,700 per year due to increased competition from imported or illegally entered foreign labor. Over 26 million new immigrants arrived during that period.

Nearly 14 million arrived in the decade ending in 2010, peaking at 2.9 million for the two-year period of 2004-5. Adjusting for this additional decade of high immigrant arrival, real wage suppression is probably over $2,600 per year per worker—a $372 billion dollar annual dent in the buying power of over 143 million American workers, based on the March 2013 BLS Household Survey. According to the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR), taxpayers are footing annual costs associated with illegal immigration of at least $84 billion per year in increased education, healthcare, and law enforcement costs alone. Most of these are borne by state and local governments. These fiscal costs are essentially corporate subsidies to businesses that use illegal immigrant labor.

Who are these business lobbies that are advocating for policies that help themselves but hurt American workers and taxpayers? They all claim to be defenders of free enterprise and a free economy, and they all have their “Court” economists (as in the Court Prophets of the Bible) to show their indispensable contribution to the American economy. But when there are 7 to 8 million illegal immigrants holding U.S. jobs and more than 20 million Americans who want a full time job and cannot find one, something is rotten in Washington. Hourly wages for unskilled workers have declined 22 percent since 1979. Yet these corporate lobbyists, and amnesty and guest-worker expansionists Senator John McCain (R. AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R, SC) are claiming there is a labor shortage! When wages fall, it means there is an excess of labor. Unfortunately, we have a main-stream-media that refuses to call McCain and Graham on these outrageous claims.

Meanwhile McCain and Graham are part of the Gang of-Eight that is sponsoring the Schumer-Rubio Immigration Reform bill that allows for immediate amnesty and expanded guest-worker programs. Schumer, by the way, was a key instigator in blocking one of the 1986 Act’s enforcement provisions. Don’t expect a different Schumer in 2013.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL) is fortunately opposing the Gang’s amnesty and guest-worker plans. It is good to see a Republican standing up for American workers and unafraid to oppose giant cheap foreign labor lobbies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here are some recent words for the U.S. Chamber by Senator Sessions:

“The Chamber’s primary goal has never been to establish a lawful immigration system and secure our borders, but to get as much cheap labor as possible—regardless of how it impacts American workers, legal immigrants, and taxpayers in general.”

There are several other PAC and lobbyist organizations that claim to be for freedom and prosperity but whose liberal immigration positions put them on the side of the Big Business advocates of unlimited cheap foreign labor and thereby against the interests of American workers, small and independent businesses, and individual income taxpayers. Here are some on the list of 2012 election endorsers for Senator Jeff Flake (R, AZ), another sponsor of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty and guest-worker expansion: The Club for Growth, probably Flake’s biggest financial supporter; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, of course; and FreedomWorks. Flake recently announced that a Republican presidential candidate who supports gay marriage is inevitable, but that he did not foresee changing his position (He is a Mormon with five children.). However, one of his 2012 endorsers was GOProud, a gay rights PAC. (Source: Project Vote Smart.)

Meanwhile, the RINO jellyfish war cry is to vote for amnesty to get Hispanic votes. Yet very reputable research over the last twelve years indicates Republicans would not gain Hispanic votes by supporting amnesty. Hispanic voters like the Democrat Party because they prefer big government healthcare and welfare programs and don’t care about taxes. The latest research by the Center for Immigration Studies indicates conservative non-Hispanic whites would react strongly against Republican House members voting for amnesty. Amnesty is Republican suicide.

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