Texas Democrat Pleads with MSNBC: Joe Biden Must Recognize ‘Pull Factors’ to Migration

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) speaks to members of the media June 27, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The House has passed a Senate version of a $4.5 billion bill on combating the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. (Photo by Alex …
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s administration must recognize the “pull factors” inviting many more migrants to cross the U.S. border, threatened Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar says.

“We have to understand that if we don’t … address both the push factors and the pull factors, we’re gonna keep talking about this year after year,” the Texas border district Democrat told MSNBC on June 10.

For months, Biden officials have blamed migration on the so-called “push factors” in foreign countries. The claimed push factors include crime, poverty, floods, and widespread corruption. By touting the push factors, Biden’s deputies minimized media recognition of his “pull factors.”

Those pull factors include his administration’s tacit offer to migrants of relatively well-paid U.S. jobs, the rollback of workplace enforcement and deportation rules, and the ease of transmitting wages back to family members in the home countries.

But voter pressure is forcing many legislators — including Cuellar — to push back against Biden.

Cuellar told MSNBC:

We also need to address the pull factors of policies that we have here in the U.S. Look, if you notice, this administration — with due respect —  talks about how we’re handling the unaccompanied kids, but that’s one thing. I’m glad and that we’re doing a much better job [with children and youths]. But what about the rest of the people. What about the individual adults are coming in? We have to talk about that.

We always talk about working with Central America, Guatemala, and Mexico to do the dirty things we do not want to do or the uncomfortable things we don’t want to do, and that is to deport people. We want them to deport people before they got here. But we’ve got to enforce the law, and part of the law is that we have to deport the people that don’t have a right to be here in the United States. It’s just plain and simple.

Cuellar has been outspoken against Biden’s lax border protection rules, in part because many of his Latino constituents are strongly opposed to the inflow of economic migrants into their workplaces, communities, housing, and schools.

So far, at least two polls show that a greater share of Latino-origin Americans than white Americans worry about the economic and civic damage of reckless migration.

In 2020, President Donald Trump “won 14 of 28 counties on or near the border that Hillary Clinton had nearly swept in 2016 and he came within 5 percentage points of Biden in traditionally Democratic Starr County [in 2016 Hillary] Clinton won the county by 60 percentage points,” said a June 11 report at TexasTribune.org.

GOP leaders are growing optimistic that they can win a greater share of the Latino vote in southern Texas and are targeting six of the state House seats held by local Democrats. On June 6, a GOP candidate was elected mayor of McAllen, a border city and a Democratic stronghold.

Cuellar asked Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to visit the border chaos:

I invite the President and the Vice President to come — with due respect, not do a state visit, but come and sit down with people.

I’ve lived here all my life. Talk to the sheriffs. Talk to the mayors. Talk to the county judges. Talk to the business leaders. They’re frustrated because they’re seeing people coming in large numbers. We had a meeting in the Laredo area Friday … I have a call today with all the community leaders. They are worried, and they’re concerned. Landowners are concerned. Local sheriffs are concerned. Local police are concerned. Somebody needs to listen to our local communities.

With all due respect, just doing a staged visit is not enough. They have to understand. They don’t need to listen to me. They need to listen to other people that have lived here. We have a lifetime of experience. A visit doesn’t substitute for a lifeline of experience about what we are seeing here.

Biden’s deputies, chiefly Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, are trying to widen small avenues for wage-cutting migration into American communities.

For example, Mayorkas is pulling the economic migrants through the border via legal side doors that were designed for small numbers of victims of political or religious persecution, stranded travelersvictimized children, and injured voyagers.

Mayorkas’s side-door strategy has yet to be reviewed by judges.

When the number of got-aways is included, Mayorkas’s half-open border policies likely added roughly 100,000 workers who can be hired by employers at very low wages for myriad jobs, including jobs at Chipotle and McDonald’s.

Since at least 1990, employers have benefited from a bubble of cheap labor created by the federal government immigration policies. Unfortunately, the abundant labor has allowed them to cut wages and training and to avoid labor-saving upgrades in blue-collar and farming jobs.

But President Donald Trump’s zig-zag policy of lower migration reduced the federal inflation of the labor supply. This reform is helping blue-collar Americans extract wage increases from their employers — especially from restaurant owners.

On June 10, the Washington Post reported comments from Patrick Whalen, a co-owner of five restaurants in Charleston and Charlotte, N.C.:

After one of his managers told him that a line cook needed to borrow money to get groceries, Whalen was moved to reconsider wages at the company.

“It was just one of those moments where you just kind of stop and you say, ‘Is there a real problem in our industry?’” he said. “We always kind of knew it was there, but we didn’t really know what to do with it.”

The company raised the starting wage for all of its staff to $15 an hour, up from $12 to $13. And it created a “tip the kitchen” program, adding a second line to table checks for gratuity for the back-of-the-house staff, which the restaurant matches up to $500 per night. That move has increased wages for non-tipped employees such as line cooks and dishwashers to an average of $23.80 an hour, Whalen said.

Many Americans are getting wage rises as the economy emerges from the coronavirus disaster. For example, the New York Times reported June 9: “In May, in an effort to hire 20,000 employees in a tight labor market, Chipotle said it was raising wages and would pay workers from $11 to $18 an hour … In May, McDonald’s said it was raising hourly wages for current employees by an average of 10 percent.”

Biden’s flood of migrant labor may end the labor shortage that has benefited working Americans since 2019.

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