My op/ed on immigration was pubished in the Detroit News Tuesday, April 26. For more of my thoughts on immigration and other issues facing our nation please see the blod articles below.
Democrats have wholeheartedly taken up the issue of income inequality and stagnant real wages of working class families. Bernie Sanders has criticized our current trade policy; making it a centerpiece of his campaign. He does not support the purposed TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade agreement.
Here in Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown has been a longtime opponent of “free trade”. Former Gov. Ted Strickland, who has a good chance of unsetting Sen. Rob Portland (r) in the upcoming election, is also campaigning against trade deals that put Ohio workers in direct competition with cheap foreign labor and sends Ohio jobs overseas.
What does it matter if we send American jobs overseas for foreign labor to fill or we bring foreign labor into the U.S.? This is the disconnect of progressive economic labor policy.
In the relatively recent past, prominent liberals agreed that rapidly expanding the labor pool by bringing in millions of immigrants was not in the best interests of working Americans. Labor union leaders and civil rights luminaries, for a century right through President Bill Clinton, supported reducing the number of work permits for foreign laborers. They understood that such a move would spur wage growth and expand job opportunities for Americans.
A 1995 congressional commission, chaired by the charismatic civil rights leader and Democratic Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan, recommended limiting immigration to 550,000 individuals a year. President Clinton praised the recommendation as a “balanced immigration policy that . . . protect[s] the American work force.”
There is no good reason to continue giving out one million new lifetime work permits every year, supporting guest worker programs and having a permissive attitude towards illegal immigration when over 15 million native and immigrant Americans already here are currently unable to find full-time jobs.
From 1924 to 1965, America sharply scaled back the number of immigrants it accepted. Without competition from a large pool of foreign-born laborers, American workers were better able to unionize and demand improved wages and benefits.
The share of income going to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans dropped from 43 percent in 1924 — the year lower immigration quotas were implemented — to less than 32 percent in 1965 — the year the quotas were replaced with the current immigration system.
The post-1965 influx of workers helped freeze wages. In fact, inflation-adjusted wages have actually declined over the last forty years. The average worker in 1973 earned a higher real wage than the average worker does today.
Economists have concluded that high levels of immigration are partially responsible for wage stagnation. Harvard professor George Borjas, an immigrant himself, has shown that expanding the size of any working cohort — as defined by age or education — by 10 percent through immigration reduces the wages of all native-born folks in that group by 2.5 percent. The effect on native-born men is even greater — a decline in wages of 3.7 percent.
For Americans without a high school degree, the wage losses are even more pronounced — about $1,200 for the years between 1990 and 2010.
Immigrants themselves are not at fault. The overwhelming majority of immigrants are industrious people who work hard. It is just that in America, hard work often is not rewarded. The strongest work ethic in the world cannot defeat the law of supply and demand. The more workers who need a job, the less employers have to pay to attract employees.
Our leaders have the power to stop this economic race to the bottom and boost wage growth. Scaling back the pace at which our nation admits new laborers from abroad would help disadvantaged immigrants who are already here. It would take job-market realities into account and give native and immigrant American workers the leverage to win back the wages and benefits they’ve lost over decades.
America has been and must continue to be a nation that does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or national origin, but there’s no need to bring in one million permanent immigrants every year, allow guest worker programs, on top of illegal immigration when current residents cannot find good-paying jobs.
If progressive candidates are serious about standing up for American workers, they must consider greatly reducing the number of foreign laborers who have access to the American labor market through trade policy and immigration policy.
Once again the NYT makes its same old tired argument for completely open borders to anyone unlucky enough to be born in a country where bad things happen. Do they understand they are talking about 2-3 billon people depending on where you draw the line?
All the moral dilemmas set forth in this article have their roots in the US government’s unwillingness to enforce our immigration laws.
The fact that this illegal immigrant went undetected in the US for 15 years is objective proof that our system of immigration enforcement is a joke. Yet the NYT is opposed to any practical and sensible enforcement measures like E-verify of employment status, but supports sanctuary cities, a policy that only makes sense if you stipulate to a large population of illegal immigrate living in that city. Again where is the enforcement?
The NYT put forward another compelling story of all the moral dilemmas and hardships that accumulate when we do not identify and deport illegal aliens in a timely manner.
I would love to see the NYT put forward a plan to effectively and legally enforce our immigration laws. Of course, if the NYT are not willing to deport anyone for any reason at any time, you have made it impossible to enforce our immigration laws, and that is their true moral dilemma.
Profile of an illegal immigrant from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/magazine/the-deported.html?_r=0
Mr. Tony Iriti – Economic Development Director for the Hancock County Alliance – made a request for local government’s help to offset a local “Worker Shortage”. I found this interesting on many levels.
I understand many in business feel that if government would only get out of way the economy would thrive. In this case at least, Mr. Iriti is asking for a government solution and government funds to resolve a market problem.
This brings me to the function of a market. Mr. Iriti seems to be representing only one side on the market. Mr. Iriti fails to understand or acknowledge that when it is harder for companies to find workers that means on the other side of the equation workers are finding jobs more easily.
Whenever a business makes the statement that it is unable to find workers, in my mind , I always add the phrase “at the wages, benefits and worker conditions that I am providing.”
As a labor market tightens, workers have more choice where to sell their labor. If the market forces business to raise wages and benefits to attract a workforce than this is a good thing. Maybe the market is finally addressing the gross income inequality that this nation is facing.
As wages for low income workers rise they will become less dependent on government programs; like food stamps. That is good for the whole community.
Our ultimate goal in managing our local economy should not be growth; it should be promoting broad-base middle-class prosperity.
If a business is having issues finding workers then they need to look at what they are offering in the market place. To business I say; get out there and compete. Have faith in the market, let the market work.
I know that the establishment is using immigration (and trade) to drive down their cost of labor.
I know that immigration (and trade) are a primary cause of income inequality.
I know that the establishment is not even trying to stop illegal immigration.
I know that mass immigration is exploding our population and is making America a poorer nation.
I know that every time an illegal immigrant commits a crime it should have never happened.
I know that the establishment owns the press and is using it to promote mass immigration.
I know that the establishment owned press will label anyone who questions mass immigration as a racist.
I know that birth right citizenship gives foreign nationals the power to control our immigration system.
I know that when you boil down the argument for amnesty it is an argument for unlimited immigration.
I know that for all of the reasons above, the establishment does not really want to talk about mass immigration.
Why Democrats will not address the real cause of income inequality.
I am hopeful that the public and our political class are coming to terms with income inequality in America and the harm it is doing to our economy and society. At the same time, I am disappointed in the response by my party, the Democratic Party, to the overreaching economic issues of our time.
While raising the minimum wage would do more good than harm, simply raising the minimum wage would help too few people, too little, and could create inequities of its own. More importantly, the minimum wage is a placebo, a distraction from the real labor market forces at work that is bringing the idea of America as a broad-based middle class national, to a close.
Our government over the last 30 years has pursued policies by way of trade agreements, cheap foreign labor embedded in the goods imported to the US and an immigration policy of non-enforcement to increase the supply of labor in the United States. Globalization has been an abject failure for the American middle class. When President Clinton supported NAFTA he sold out to a corporate establishment and took the Democratic Party’s labor market policy 180 degrees in the wrong direction.
Increasing the supply of labor into the US market has had a predictable, and for some, the desired result. While corporate profits are at record highs the value of labor in the market has been diminished to the point where a full-time job no longer provides a place in the middle class.
For a party that holds the moral high ground on so many important issues, it sickens me to see Democrats pandering to foreign nationals who have intentionally broken our immigration law in order to gain an electoral advantage, and to a corporate establishment that is willing to put short-term profits above the economic interest of their employees and their own customers.
It is my wish that the Democratic Party will set aside the interest of foreign nationals and big campaign contributors and return to their core values of supporting a strong and prosperous middle-class.
Please like the Facebook Page: Democrats Against Amnesty https://www.facebook.com/pages/Democrats-Against-Amnesty/152334804799707?ref=br_tf
Why Does Sen. Brown Support Amnesty?
After reading Sen. Sherrod Brown’s book Why American Trade Policy Has Failed: Myths of Free Trade I was heartened to read that I am not the only Democrat that feels President Clinton’s support of NAFTA took America 180 degrees in the wrong direction when it comes to our trade policy.
But I am disappointed that Sen. Brown supports amnesty. Some years ago, I remember a prominent democrat (if you know who it was, please drop me an e-mail) say that “free trade and illegal immigration are two sides of the same coin”.
Our trade relationship with China (and others) is sucking this country dry. The total lack of immigration enforcement is simply allowing US companies to in-source workers to undercut wages and benefits for jobs that cannot ship overseas.
I am left to hope, without much hope, that the Democratic Party will get right with the American middle class working family and face up to the real issue face our country and save the American economy.