No campaign promise garnered more attention than Donald Trump’s proposed wall at our southern border.
The recent, vicious attack that left one U.S. Border Patrol agent dead and another mortally wounded has underscored the urgent need for the wall.
The wall will not only curb illegal immigration and the deadly flow of opioids, but it will create thousands of high-paying construction jobs and opportunities the next generation of apprentices desperately need.
Industry estimates put the shortage of skilled construction workers at 500,000 to 1 million — a shortage that is inflating construction costs. Sadly, while unemployment is generally low nationally, we see too many Americans caught in low-wage, low-skill jobs, or with no jobs at all, begging on street corners. This is crazy, because bridging this gap requires little more than getting politics out of the way.
Federal projects are built under the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which means every contractor working on the wall in, say, California will have to pay every worker a certain amount per hour to fund training programs. Additionally, hundreds of apprentices will earn decent pay and critical work hours required for graduation and a stable future in the building trades.
The training system breakdown occurs when the apprentice cannot get enough hours on-the-job to graduate. Training programs all across the state have publicly reported drop-out rates as high as 50% that invariably result from a lack of work hours. The Trump wall would turn hundreds or even thousands of apprentices into high-skill, high-wage journeyman craft professionals.
It shocks the senses that any industrialized economy could have willing workers and market demand and an inability to combine them. But then again, this is California.
California, ravaged by illegal immigration, crime and drugs, has numerous training programs that lack work hours for their students to graduate. Yet the state is actually using tax dollars to fight to block the wall. The “Sanctuary State,” formerly known as the Golden State, is so dysfunctionally locked into its radical open-borders ideology that it is suing, divesting from, and even blacklisting contractors who work on the wall.
California is a functional oligarchy where a handful of leaders of powerful special interests — including environmentalists, open-border advocates, Planned Parenthood, and labor unions — demand absolute fealty from lawmakers. Politicians who are wholly subservient to the oligarchy are protected and promoted, and those whose loyalty to any one of the oligarchs is in doubt, are taken out.
One would think construction unions would welcome the wall and vocally support a president who is looking out for them, but they are silent. Could they be more committed to unity in the oligarchy than to their members?
A hundred years ago, American Federation of Labor founder Samuel Gompers stood up for “bread and butter unionism”: unions were to secure better pay and working conditions for members. He wanted no part of the social engineering schemes espoused by the leftist activists of the day, as such pursuits were tangential to the task at hand – namely, getting better jobs for his members.
Gompers also supported limiting immigration. He understood – correctly – that the large corporate interests wanted a flood of unskilled immigrants to undercut the wages of working Americans. These corporate interests, Gompers said, “were abetted by idealists and sentimentalists who believed in the ‘open door’ policy.” Today’s union leaders would do well to take a page from Gompers’ book.
Donald Trump became a world-class developer by challenging paradigms and eschewing petty partisan interests. He won the presidency against all odds by uniting people of all walks of life — especially skilled workers, union and non-union, whose interests are often lost in the midst of partisan bickering.
Donald Trump is keeping his promises to put Americans back to work and make America great, safe and prosperous again.
Despite the unprecedented, vicious and withering accusations about his motives, the wall is good public policy.
John Loudon is a policy advisor with America First Policies. He served as a Missouri state senator and member of the Missouri House of Representatives for 14 years. Most recently, he was a construction industry professional for California Construction Advancement Group until Governor Jerry Brown defunded the organization.