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NYT Boosts Investors’ Campaign for More Immigrant Workers, Consumers

Construction workers work the construction of a new building partly covered with a large US flag on September 25, 2013 in Los Angeles, California, where the state's Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will raise the California minimum wage from $8 to $10 per hour by 2016. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. …
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
NEIL MUNRO

The New York Times is touting a few city managers in hard-hit upstate New York who are hoping to rejuvenate their local economies by attracting a share of the many illegal and legal immigrants who enter the United States each year.

But the soft-focus, pro-migration article also provides an unpaid boost for the Economic Innovation Group, which is an investor-funded group pressing Congress to allow state legislators to import their own extra supply of cheap immigrant workers, consumers, and renters.

City managers “are testing out a new [economic] strategy: luring refugees who have settled in other parts of the United States to move to New York,” according to the New York Times. “They are advertising job placement, English language and housing services, hoping to draw enough people to offset the shortfall” of American residents, the article said.

The region is doomed unless it can import more migrants, the New York Times suggested. “The real fear for upstate cities is that if we don’t keep our population growing, we will fall into an endless cycle of decline,” said a highlighted quote from Assemblyman Sean Ryan, a Democrat from the upstate city of Buffalo.

But there are at least several alternatives to the EIG’s push to grow the economy by importing even more immigrants.

For example, cities can compete to attract the roughly 12 million Americans who are still looking for decent jobs — including many sidelined people in West Virginia and other states who were hit hard by free trade. City officials can also compete to attract millions of young Americans are looking for wage raises and decent housing to grow their own families.

President Donald Trump is rolling back some of the free-trade rules that encouraged U.S. investors to welcome low-skill Somali immigrants to Utica after they had exported the region’s high-skill manufacturing jobs to cheap workers in China.

Yet the NYT prefers to tout the recruitment of the Somali refugee who moved to Utica, NY, and is now working in a retail store:

Abdiwahab Awayle, 36, first moved to Erie, Pa., in 2017 from a refugee camp in Kenya. But after three months he stopped receiving government help to learn English and to find a job.

Struggling to make ends meet while working at a plastic production company, he decided to move with his wife and five children to Utica, where he heard from Somali friends that rents were lower and that better paying manufacturing jobs were available. The center for refugees, they said, offered free English classes.

The government imports roughly one million legal workers, consumers, and renters each year. The nation’s divided government also accepts more than one million illegal and semi-legal migrants in 2019, along with at least one million temporary workers.

This huge supply of imported workers, consumers, and renters prefer to cluster in coastal cities — and so it also drains job-creating investment, wages, and real estate values that would otherwise go to the four million Americans graduates each year and to the children, young workers, and homeowners in America’s heartland towns and cities.

For example, the NYT article touts a few hundred migrants who have moved to the upstate cities — even though at least 3.75 million other legal immigrants and about 750,000 illegal migrants have chosen to live in New York City. Those 4.5 million migrants comprise at least one-quarter of the city’s workforce, and their imported willingness to accept low wages is a huge federal subsidy to the city’s elite because it lowers the price of services — such as restaurants — for many of the city’s upper-income professionals in the financial sector.

The inflated population of migrants also spikes rental income for housing investors.

Despite the obvious and huge economic skew enabled by legal and illegal migration, the NYT tries to blame the upstate cities’ problems on Trump’s campaign promise to reduce the annual inflow of refugees from Somalia and other strife-torn regions:

… that [refugee-fuelled] rejuvenating bounce for cities such as Utica, Buffalo and Syracuse ended after the Trump administration drastically cut the number of refugees allowed into the country. New York received 1,281 refugees in the last fiscal year, compared with 5,026 just two years before, according to the State Department. Officials in those cities worried they had lost a small but important bulwark against population decline.

The NYT article also downplays a second cause of the decline in upstate New York — the government’s decision to export the region’s manufacturing base to cheap-labor workforces in China via the free-trade treaties. The article hints at the disaster — “a manufacturing decline left homes vacant and storefronts dark” — while it tacitly endorses a two-class economy built on cheap labor.

In contrast, Trump’s “Hire American” policies are reversing the cheap-labor policy by curbing both free trade and immigration. Trump’s lower-immigration, higher-wages policy are shifting money from investors to workers, according to a growing number of news articles.

A May 14 report from Wisconsin by the Associated Press reported:

Nik Rettinger, the 28-year-old first vice chairman of Waukesha County GOP, said he knows several people who were Trump skeptics but have come around to him in no small part because of the economy.

“We want people moving out of their parents’ basements,” he said. “A lot of people said, ‘I don’t know if he can do it.’ Now they think: He’s done it.”

On May 12, the Wall Street Journal reported growing wages and spiking productivity in Trump’s “Hire American” economy:

As the job market tightens, some small firms are experimenting with new ways of recruiting. Judy Briggs, owner of a cleaning business in Boston with seven employees, has hired three people since she began providing bonuses for referrals in November. Workers can earn $100 if a new recruit stays 30 days, plus $250 after 90 days and $500 after one year.

A small firm in Fort Smith, Ark., that conducts employment background checks has spent about $350,000 over three years to automate repetitive tasks. “The 16 current employees are performing twice as much work as when we had 28 employees,” said its president, Dean Wilson.

The NYT‘s cheerleading for cheap immigrant labor is also tacit support for the EIG’s advocacy for a law that would import many more immigrants for state governments

The NYT article included a brief reference to the political campaign, noting:

In trying to draw upon the existing pool of refugees in the United States, New York is competing against places that have experienced similar declines as the country’s population growth has fallen to 80-year lows. Between 2007 and 2017, 80 percent of American counties, with a combined population of 149 million Americans, lost prime working-age adults, according to a recent report from the Economic Innovation Group, a Washington think tank.

The EIG is not a mere “think tank.” It is an advocacy group founded by a team of investors, including Sean Parker, a founder of Facebook. The president is Jon Lettieri, whose bio says:

Prior to EIG, John was the Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for a leading business association, the Organization for International Investment (OFII), where he led the organization’s state and federal policy work on such issues as tax reform, trade, investment promotion, and manufacturing.

EIG’s April 2019 proposal for more imported workers and consumers admits that the current immigration policy favors large cities, saying:

it currently serves to increase the regional disparities highlighted above: the fastest-growing decile of counties has proportionally more skilled immigrants than the slowest-growing one by a factor of eight. What is more, the 20 most populous U.S. counties currently contain 37% of the country’s skilled immigrants compared to only 19% of the country’s total population.

More broadly, the 5% of counties with the highest home prices have over half of the country’s skilled immigrants, and 90% of skilled immigrants live in the top one-third of counties with the highest housing prices.

The group also admitted that more immigration raises housing prices, which is bad for home buyers, such as young married Americans seeking to start a family. “Cheaper housing is good for first-time home buyers and renters,”  says the EIG proposal, which is titled “Could a Heartland Visa help Struggling Regions?”

But instead of reducing immigration to spur income gains and family formation by many Americans and also to help spread job-creating investment beyond the major coastal cities, the EIG just urges more immigration:

Current skilled immigration policy largely benefits populous, booming metro areas but fails most heartland communities. A new program of place-based visas—let’s call them Heartland Visas—could become a powerful economic development tool for communities facing the consequences of demographic stagnation, but not content to simply manage decline. The visas would constitute a new, additive, and voluntary pathway for skilled immigrants to come to the United States. Eligible communities would opt-in to hosting visa holders, who would provide a much-needed injection of human capital and entrepreneurial vitality into parts of the country that retain considerable economic potential.

The extra immigrants would help boost housing prices, the EIG proposal notes:

The relationship between population growth and housing demand is clear. More people means more demand for housing, and fewer people means less demand … As a result, a shrinking population will lead to falling prices and a deteriorating, vacancy-plagued housing stock that may take generations to clear

The potential for skilled immigrants to boost local housing markets is clear. Notably, economist Albert Saiz (2007) found a 1% increase in population from immigration causes housing rents and house prices in U.S. cities to rise commensurately, by 1%

The EIG report praises a huge outsourcing proposal which was announced by Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson in 2017 — and which was immediately buried once it was exposed by Breitbart News.

According to EIG:

Most notably in the United States, in 2017 Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the State-Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act (S. 1040), which would have instituted a state-based visa system. The bill proposed allocating up to 500,000 visas annually to the 50 states and Washington, DC, with 5,000 per state as a baseline and the rest allocated in proportion to population. This proposal would be a temporary working visa, with the goal of taking a more federalist approach to immigration. The policy would allow states to sponsor foreign workers, investors, and entrepreneurs, and determine themselves the criteria used.

In its 2017 report, Breitbart News reported:

The bill would allow states to each get 5,000 visas for additional foreign workers per year, plus a population-based share of another 245,000 visas, plus a share of any visas not used by other states. The inflow of foreign workers would start at 495,000 in the first year, not counting the additional family members of each imported worker.

The bill would also create an amnesty, because the visas could be given to 11 million plus illegals living in the United States, including those who returned to the United States after being deported.

The Senator said he has 50 co-sponsors, but acknowledged the likely unpopularity of his American replacement bill, which is formally titled the “State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program of 2017.”

The acknowledgment came at the end of his statement when he thanked the CATO group and his House counterpart, Colorado GOP Rep. Ken Buck, for backing the replacement bill. “Let’s face it, to have the courage… we’re probably a lightning rod on this bill,” Johnsson said in his videotaped speech.

Johnson also said the imported workers are needed to replace the many Americans lost in unemployment and drug addiction:

Johnson spoke at length about the “new plague [of opioid addiction] in our country,” and quoted from an article describing the huge extent of worker drop out amid the post-2008 combination punch of recession and mass-immigration.

The subsequent “social pathologies … I would argue are being driven by government policy,” Johnson told the hearing room, and he cited Medicaid’s distribution of free opioids throughout much of the country.

But “it is not going to be a government program that is going to solve” that worker drop-out problem, Johnson continued.  So the new visa bill, he said, is targeted to “making sure that American businesses have the labor they need.”

Johnson’s bill was tentatively backed Colorado’s GOP Rep. Ken Buck. “I’m not ready to sponsor it in the House yet … It is important to take the bill out of the oven when it is baked,” he said in 2017.

In 2019, Buck is backing a bill — H.R.1044 and S.368 — that would provide a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of Indian college graduates if they accept low wages to work college-grade jobs in the United States that are also sought by U.S. graduates:

The EIG did not respond to questions from Breitbart News.

So far, Democrats have displayed more enthusiasm for cheap-labor immigration plans, partly because it provides more taxes to local government and, eventually, more voters for the Democratic Party.

For example, Democratic presidential hopeful, Mayor Pete Buttigieg endorsed more immigration during an April 17 campaign in Des Moines, Iowa:

We need people here. We need to grow. My community …  If we’ve got responsible, able-bodied people on a path to citizenship, send them to South Bend. Because we trying to grow our community, and job growth in population growth go hand-in-hand.

We know — despite what they say about us here in the heartland —  we know how much our communities benefit from the growth that happens through immigration.

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including roughly one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap foreign white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor shifts also enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment from the heartland to the coasts, explodes rents, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest and rewards investors for creating low tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

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