The Democratic Senate candidate in Vermont wants a faster inflow of wage-cutting foreign workers, even though Vermonters have begun regaining jobs, higher wages, and better work conditions.
“I definitely am in favor of expanded legal immigration,” Democratic Rep. Peter Welch said in a September 9 candidate debate against Republican candidate Gerald Malloy.
Welch then promised companies to import more foreign workers, renters, and consumers in place of Americans:
Our legal immigration is about the lowest it’s been in the history of our country, and our country has always been made stronger when we have a legal immigration process. So I am one who is very much in favor, hopefully on a bipartisan basis, to increase the number of people who are allowed to apply and go through a legal process to be an immigrant and become eventually an American citizen.
In contrast, his GOP opponent, Malloy zig-zags between the pro-migration donors that fund his campaign ads and the pro-American swing voters that will decide his November election.
The GOP’s voters are concerned about jobs and wages, rents, and housing. But those priorities are suffering amid President Joe Biden’s massive inflow of at least 3 million southern illegal migrants, alongside the legal inflow of roughly 2 million immigrants and visa workers.
“I’m in favor of legal immigration, not illegal immigration,” Malloy told the debate audience while zigzagging back to illegal migration:
It is a top-down leadership issue to have actually our border agents actually start enforcing immigration laws. We have roughly 200,000 illegal immigrants coming into the country every month … As a U.S. senator, I would look to have our border agents actually enforce our immigration laws.
“We need to abide by immigration laws,” he told Breitbart News on September 17 — without calling for popular reforms to create economic opportunities for Vermonters by reducing legal and illegal migration nationwide.
Many polls show Americans want companies to hire Americans before migrants. Companies “should raise wages and try harder to recruit Americans even if it causes the prices of their products to rise,” according to a July 20-22 poll by YouGov.com. Just 22 percent agreed that employers “should recruit immigrant workers to help keep business costs and prices down.” But 50 percent favored the “raise wages …[and recruit Americans” policy.
Yet Malloy does not mention the link between wages, housing, and migration.
The inflow of illegals is “completely unacceptable,” Malloy said in a rare tweet about immigration policy. “We need to secure the southern border,” he added, without offering any criticism of the legal loopholes used by Biden’s border deputies to welcome more economic migrants.
Malloy’s campaign declined to answer questions from Breitbart News about his immigration policies.
Malloy usually turns the subject to drugs and crime, rather than Americans’ pocketbooks and the diversion of investment away from smaller, peripheral states, such as Vermont.
The White House “leadership [is] telling [border guards] ‘Let people walk in,’ and the drugs are coming in,” Malloy told the David Webb radio show on September 27. “I talk about putting up a wall. I know some people don’t like that, but for me, that wall will help start to curb the fentanyl that’s coming in mostly through the southern border,” he said.
The Democratic candidate’s support for more immigrants — if ever implemented — would further reduce the incentive for wealthy coastal investors to create jobs in Vermont or other small, peripheral states.
Under Biden’s easy migration rules, for example, investors in New York, California, and Florida can easily hire imported workers at the local airport or bus station without having to build worksites in distant Vermont.
Malloy is a business consultant and a former U.S. Army officer, who is touting his ability to help bring new companies to Vermont. But he is ignoring the migration-caused diversion of investment from Vermont to other states — unlike Katie Britt, the GOP’s Senate candidate in Alabama.
“The companies will do the analysis: If it is going to cost them 25 percent more to go to Vermont versus South Carolina, they’re not coming to Vermont,” he said. For many graduates in Vermont, he said, “there’s not a real career path — business isn’t here.”
Other GOP candidates are making the pocketbook pitch while Malloy is sticking to the don’t-mention-the-money script set by establishment GOP advisors.
“The downward pressure that illegal immigration has on wages is an economic fact and a reality,” Monica De La Cruz, the GOP candidate in Texas’s 15th congressional district said in a late September press event. “In manual labor … [because of migration] wages can drop by $800 to $1,500 a year,” De La Cruz said. “I don’t know any single family that can stand losing $1,500 a year. That could be two to three months of baby formula or eight months of gas.”
But “the Republican Party in Vermont is led by [business-first] corporatism,” said Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.
The demand for more migrants is also pushed by the state’s establishment, said Vaughan, a former resident of Vermont:
People in Vermont are self-conscious about the lack of ethnic diversity. They see more immigration — whether it’s refugees or students or farm workers or tech workers — as something that is improving their state socially, regardless of the effects on Vermonters.
The result is that GOP candidates are not willing and ready to debate migration policy when they know the media and the Democrats will label them as racists, she added:
Politicians, especially Republicans, who are not used to talking about immigration, are afraid — even if they are [talking] about illegal immigration — so they feel they have to bend over backward to say how legal immigration is just fine … They are not sufficiently in touch with — or knowledgeable about — [migration’s] effects on Americans and legal immigrants.
But there is a political fix for Malloy, said, Vaughan:
He could be for a system that truly prioritizes the most skilled and most educated and most talented immigrants rather than the chain migration, big tech-dominated system that we have … He could be for a modernized immigration system that will provide opportunities for Vermonters rather thant just displace them.
Malloy can also the issue to tap into Vermont’s independent-minded political culture, she said. “Vermonters tend to perceive themselves as independents rather than a party,” she said.
President Donald Trump reduced migration in 2019 and 2020, so pushing up wages and high-tech investment. But that economic gain for ordinary Americans is being lost by Biden’s mass inflow.
So far, few of those southern migrants are going to Vermont — forcing Vermont companies to offer higher wages to their employees.
“We have done bonuses, referral programs with our staff if they bring people in, we throw a couple of hundred dollars toward them,” Bobby Seaman, the general manager of Folino’s Pizza in Williston, told MyNBC5.com on August 19. He also wants to offer health-care benefits: “Something we’ve never ever talked about before was health insurance, and now we’re trying to figure out how to do it, to try and pull those folks in.”
“I came back [into the workforce] because of the free child care” offered by the Smugglers North resort, Brittany Gray told Vermont Public radio in August. “Before that, it was just too expensive to be able to work,” she said. The report continued:
Harley Johnson oversees the child care program [for Smugglers Notch]. She says the four-seasons resort saw an increase in [job] applications after launching the free child care benefit this past spring. “Multiple managers have come to me and said how that changed everything for them,” Johnson said. “And you know, instead of having hundreds of open positions, we have hardly any open positions at the resort right now.”
The Vermont Center for Independent Living “says there are 44,000 working-age Vermonters with disabilities, but only about half are employed,” VTDigger.com reported in June. “People with disabilities want to work, can work and do work … We should work toward giving them those opportunities, particularly in the labor market that we’re currently facing where we have shortages everywhere,” said Diane Dalmasse, director of HireAbility Vermont.
“For the most part, it’s not a shortage of workers that’s the problem, per se.,” Northeastern University economics professor Robert Triest said after studying the state’s economy. “It’s a sign that employers just need to offer better packages of wages and working conditions to attract workers,” said Triest.
Yet in June, the state’s governor, Republican Phil Scott, announced a new spending effort to bring import more workers from outside Vermont:
To have more workers, we need more housing. To have more housing, we need water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. To support workers and give them reasons to come here [emphasis added], we need broadband, childcare, and safe, healthy and thriving communities.
The state is also giving $20 million to landlords to repair unused housing:
Housing costs are a problem for Vermonters — and they are rising partly because of migration, advocates note.
“We also now have what I call ‘Texas refugees,’ people who are moving here because they don’t feel safe or comfortable raising their children in Texas, predominantly,” Democrat Rebecca Holcombe said in a September 27 meeting covered by VTDigger.org. “She also pointed to people moving to Vermont due to climate change, along with investors who are buying up homes to hedge against losses in the stock market,” the report added.
Housing prices are so high that Vermonters need an annual income of roughly $90,000 to afford a median home in eastern Vermont, according to a Harvard University report based on April 2022 data. But 50 percent of Vermonters earn below $81,200, according to SalaryExplorer.com
Welch’s promise of more foreign workers for business nationwide will make it difficult for local Vermonters to get decent wages and housing they need to grow their own families.
Yet Welch repeatedly and enthusiastically backs business demands for more cheap labor migration.
“I do think we have to give relief to the ‘dreamers’ [illegal migrants brought to the U.S. as children]… they need a pathway to citizenship and I favor that,” he said.
“The other thing that we have to do with the border situation is … it has to be a comprehensive approach and one that is not just politicized as it has been for so many years,” said Welch. The term “comprehensive approach” is a Washington D.C. codeword for mass amnesty.
“There also has to be a commitment to making legal immigration more accessible — legal immigration more accessible,” Welch said.
But Malloy sticks to his donor-friendly, non-populist, don’t-mention-the-money script. “In terms of immigration, we are a nation of immigrants,” he told Webb.
“What I look to do is actually ensure we enforce our immigration laws, and if there needs to be a policy change, let’s change the policy,” he said.