NYT: Elites ‘Ghost’ Their Illegal Migrants in Coronavirus Crash

A housekeeper prepares a room for customers at a hotel in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, May 25, 2020. The bars, restaurants and cafes are returning to full service in the Czech Republic as the government is taking further steps to ease its restrictive measures adopted to contain the coronavirus pandemic. …
Petr David Josek/AP Photo

Wealthy Americans have quietly fired and discarded many of their illegal migrant house cleaners since the coronavirus economic crash, often without warning or compensation, says the New York Times:

The pandemic has had devastating consequences for a wide variety of occupations, but housekeepers have been among the hardest hit. Seventy-two percent of them reported that they had lost all of their clients by the first week of April, according to a survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The fortunate had employers who continued to pay them. The unlucky called or texted their employers and heard nothing back. They weren’t laid off so much as ghosted, en masse.

The article, and the quoted pro-migration activists, only hinted at the hypocrisy of elites who applaud migration and diversity but discard their illegal migrant employees without warning or compensation.

But the article also sidelined the damage done to Americans’ labor market by the creation of several underclass workforces within the U.S. labor market. For example, the article glossed over the reality that employers know they can hire low-wage illegals at minimal legal risk, so undermining the hard-won labor market rights of Americans.

The article said:

[In 1950] domestic work was finally added to the Social Security Act, and by the 1970s it had been added to federal legislation intended to protect laborers, including the Fair Labor Standards Act. African-American women had won many of those protections by organizing, though by the 1980s, they had moved into other occupations and were largely replaced by women from South and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

The passive-voice phrase “were largely replaced” hides the rarely-noted movement in the 1970s and 1980s by upper-income whites to hire illegal, grateful, and compliant Latinos instead of proud American citizens — mostly blacks — for domestic chores.

“The reporter seems to be avoiding the question of why the American women, having won these new worker protections, just coincidentally happened to stop working in this field and be replaced by Hispanic women,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors reduced immigration and tight labor markets. He added:

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it doesn’t seem like it, and it surely is a question that you would want to at least raise in an article like this. The problem is that it would be “setting one minority group against another.” I am not going to head-shrink the person, but I would suspect this is an example of [George Orwell’s idea of “Thought]-crime stop”: It never even occurred to the reporter to pursue that because pursuing that question would lead to potentially unpleasant findings.

Many employers also hired white-collar visa workers instead of Americans. At least one million H-1B, J-1, OPT, and L-1 workers are part of the green card economy because they work hard for lower wages in the hope of getting paid with green cards and citizenship. Congress created that economy, at the request of business leaders, partly because it greatly reduces job opportunities, bargaining power, and salaries for American graduates.

Established media outlets rarely note how the huge supply of imported legal and illegal workers shifts economic power and money towards employers and away from employees. But one of the pro-migration activists cited in the New York Times acknowledged that the huge supply of workers in the sector makes it difficult for the workers to bargain for decent wages:

Premilla Nadasen, the author of “Household Workers Unite” and a professor of history at Barnard College … [said]  “The imbalance of power between employer and employee has been magnified by the pandemic because millions of people are now looking for work. And xenophobic rhetoric has made women more fearful of being deported.”

“She’s admitting that loose labor markets are bad for workers,” said Krikorian. “Black American women won those labor rights earlier on not because they marched louder or had better protest signs,” he said, adding:

It was because people who wanted domestic workers didn’t have any real choice [of alternative workers]. The black women in the 1950s and 1960s had market power, and the employers responded to that market power rationally by conceding some of the demands. Once the [workers] lost that market power because of mass immigration — legal and illegal — employers again responded rationally and withdrew those benefits.

The article echoes the calls by advocates for a federal bailout of the illegal migrant economy that has been embraced by many progressives and business groups, and by city leaders in wealthy coastal cities:

“We plateaued at about 40 percent employment in our surveys of members,” said Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the alliance. “And because most of these people are undocumented, they have not received any kind of government relief. We’re talking about a full-blown humanitarian crisis, a Depression-level situation for this work force.”

“The coronavirus shutdown was going to be bad regardless,” responded Krikorian, continuing:

But the effects have clearly been exacerbated [by immigration], not just because there are lots of immigrants, but because mass immigration has created this gig economy where jobs are not institutionalized. If you were a live-in domestic helper in the 1940s or 1950s, you’d be a lot less likely to be thrown out on the street when there’s an economic slowdown. I’m not saying it was all wonderful and roses, but it was a more institutionalized arrangement. Whereas if you’re hiring a house cleaner [in today’s gig economy], and when you can’t afford it anymore, or you have to tighten your belt, it’s easy to just cross them off your list.

Mass immigration over the years has made that kind of arrangement much easier to maintain, and so when there’s a downturn … It’s just easier to dispose of people that way.

The demand for a bailout of the illegal migrant economy comes amid an increasing recognition that legal and illegal migration inflates the wealth of the coastal states at the expense of the interior states.

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