NYT Columnist: American ‘Snakes and Vermin’ Support Donald Trump’s Immigration Policy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 27: Campaign supporters wait for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to arrive for a campaign rally at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on April 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Indiana primary is May 3. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Americans who oppose large-scale immigration are “snakes and vermin,” says one of the most moderate columnists at the New York Times.

The glib dismissal of ordinary Americans came from columnist  who has been warning progressives since 2016 they should listen to the concerns of ordinary Americans. But Edsall has apparently cracked under the stress of defending his fellow Americans from his radically “woke” elite peers, and he claimed on December 11:

[Donald] Trump’s genius in 2016 lay in his willingness — indeed, his eagerness — to openly and aggressively unleash the forces of racial and ethnic hostility that Republican elites had quietly capitalized upon for decades. Trump will be a formidable candidate next year because he is prepared to look under the rocks of the American belief system and see the snakes and vermin that have camped there in the dark.

Edsall’s crack-up is understandable: He shares the belief mass migration has little impact on the distribution of wealth, opportunities, or economic security in the United States. That view is commonplace among socially isolated journalists and academics, so Edsall ends up quoting academics who wrote:

Given the modest economic impacts of immigration estimated in most studies, the depth of anti-immigrant sentiment is puzzling.

The impact of mass migration is primarily psychological, says another academic cited by Edsall:

Driving the opposition to immigration, [U.K. professor Eric] Kaufmann writes, are voters “whose psychological makeup inclines them to see difference as disorder and change as loss.”

This is not “about competition for jobs or services,” according to Kaufmann, “but instead mainly about majority-ethnic and what I term ‘ethno-traditional’ national identities. Conservative voters feel that these are being unsettled by the rapid ethnic shifts sweeping across western countries.”

In reality, ordinary Americans’ wealth, security, and status are deeply damaged by the federal government’s policy of inflating the labor supply with roughly 1 million legal immigrants per year, just as 4 million young Americans enter the labor force.

Immigration is shifting wealth and opportunities from the young to the old, from the heartland to the coasts, the ordinary to the clever, and from wage earners to stockholders. In turn, immigration has reshaped politics so much that Democrats’ 2020 candidates are now competing for Democrats’ voters by offering ever more help to foreign workers to take jobs, houses, and careers from Democrat-voting workers and graduates.

The economic shift is so vast that few will admit the scale. For example, the 2016 report on immigration by the National Academies of Science buried the admission that immigrants — both legal and illegal — reduce Americans’ wages by flooding the labor market. On clear on page 171 of its report, the panel said: “the current stock of immigrants lowered [Americans’] wages by 5.2 percent.”

But that NAS report declined to put a dollar figure on that 5.2 percent.

Well, wages comprise almost 60 percent of the nation’s $21,000 billion economy or roughly $12.5 trillion. In turn. 5.2 percent of $12.5 trillion is $650 billion. So the NAS’s 5.2 percent “immigration tax” caused by legal and illegal immigration adds up to $650 billion per year lost by employees because of competition from lower-cost immigrants.

The $650 billion lost to the immigration tax does not disappear — roughly 90 percent goes to employers and investors, according to the NAS report.

Business lobbyists routinely deny any connection between supply, demand, and wages in the labor market. But business executives regularly tell each other that surplus labor drives down wages and that labor shortages drive up wages.

“It is a myth that the labor market tightening over the past several years has failed to translate into stronger wage growth,” said a December 9 report by Goldman Sachs’ chief economist Jan Hatzius. He continued:

True, the year-on-year growth rate of average hourly earnings for all employees has edged down from 3.4% in February to 3.1% now. But our broader wage tracker has continued to trend higher and stands at 3.3% now, up from 3.0% in [the first quarter of 2019]. The acceleration has been even more pronounced among lower-paid workers … And our more comprehensive lower-income wage tracker has accelerated to 4.3% year-on-year.

Politicians and immigration lawyers sometimes admit the law of supply-and-demand shapes wages. For example, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a former immigration lawyer, pushed through a bill the House on December 12 which gives amnesty to illegal farm workers and an unlimited flow of cheap guest-workers to farmers. In a November hearing on the legislation, Lofgren described the corporatist bargain that created the amnesty-and-outsourcing bill:

The bill implements a wage freeze for the year 2020 [for 250,000 H-2A visa workers]. This is a very important matter for employers, [and] wages are expected to increase by another seven to eight percent next year. Under this bill, those wage increases won’t happen.

These are significant wage reforms — a recent report by the CATO institute found that the bill, if enacted, would have saved farmers $324 million in labor expenses in 2019 alone.

Journalists understand the link between supply and demand. Still, they rarely describe the impact of immigration, even as President Donald Trump continues to nudge up wages by rejecting calls by business groups for more foreign workers. “A scarcity of workers has forced employers to be less picky, creating opportunities for traditionally disadvantaged groups such as ex-convicts,” said a December 12 report by Bloomberg Businessweek:

Fresh out of jail, Rita Parker just landed her highest-paying job ever. She started work on Dec. 9 at a Tulsa factory of a heating and air conditioning manufacturer, earning $14 an hour. The most she’d ever made before was $8.50, managing a convenience store. “My main worry getting out was that I wouldn’t get a good job,” says the 28-year-old, who served about nine months for drug possession. “A job will definitely help me stay sober. The shifts are so long, so I won’t have time to twiddle my thumbs.”

More cheap labor is good for CEOs because it cuts their payrolls. But investors get much more from immigration than reduced payrolls.

By the magic of the stock multiplier, investors gain roughly $20 in stock market wealth for every $1 cut in payroll. They also gain another $20 for every $1 dollar in profits gained from selling food, autos, services, and housing to the new immigrant American consumers. That 20:1 process sharply widens the growing wealth gaps between employees and investors, and between workers in the heartland and investors along the coasts.

This huge subsidy of cheap immigrant labor is repeatedly justified as a boost for the economy. Of course, immigration grows the economy because it grows the number of workers, consumers, and renters. But most of these economic gains go to employers and stock-owners  — while the costs are imposed on wage earners and renters.

The federal government has chosen to add a huge population of more than 46 million legal and illegal immigrants people to the country, so the wealth shift is also huge.

In 1966, wage earners got 66 percent of the nation’s annual income, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wage-earners’ share then gradually slid to share slid to 63 percent in 1990, when President George H. W. Bush and Congress sharply increased immigration. Their share continued falling, and after the 2008 crash, wage earners’ share crashed to 58 percent.

That overall decline means that wage earners lost one-eighth of their 1966 share of annual income to investors. But investors grew their share of the new wealth by one-third, or from 34 percent to 42 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Immigration cannot get all the credit for this vast income transfer. Immigration and guest-workers bring foreign workers to Americans’ jobs — while trade and technology help send jobs to lower-priced workers in China and India, allowing the stock market to gain from the coming of immigrants and the going of jobs.

Immigration also helps to change the economic demography of the United States.

The government flies new workers and consumers into the country every day. So coastal investors have little need to invest their job-creating money in the distant heartland towns where American families are sending their children to school, or where young American youths are looking for jobs. Instead, the investors can invest their funds in worksites sites that are just a short distance from their offices in New York or San Francisco, and from JFK and LAX airports.

The Brookings think-tank reported December 9 that “just five top innovation metro areas—Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and San Diego—accounted for more than 90% of the nation’s innovation-sector growth during the years 2005 to 2017. ”

When the new migrants flow into the wealthier coastal cities, they push up rents and raise the real estate values of the apartments and houses owned by Americans in the coastal cities. This means that prosperous coastal Americans grow wealthier by getting up in the morning.

Migrants tend to grab new jobs in the coastal because they are far more mobile than heartland Americans who are rationally reluctant to leave their homes and their support networks of family and friends.

This same migrants-get-there-first process existed before the 1924 immigration reform which ended most immigration. After the shutdown, the new urban jobs were grabbed by Americans who migrated from Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, and other poor states down the “Hillbilly Highway” to Detroit, Baltimore, California, New York, and other cities. That wave of internal migration created new wage-cutting competition for the skilled Americans in the cities — but it aided the migrant Americans, and it also forced farmers to replace the departed workers with better machines, says a new article by four academics.

So mass immigration is now skewing investment and economic growth towards coastal cities — and away from the stalled economies in the nation’s heartland:


The flood of cheap labor also reduces employers’ willingness to buy high-tech machinery and robots for their Americans employees, so decreasing their ability to grow their skills, wages, and families.
The House’s draft cheap-labor bill would accelerate this trend by replacing the current stock of illegal farmworkers with an endless supply of legal, low-wage H-2A visa workers. The two-sided deal will convert illegal aliens into Democratic voters and American farmworkers into unwanted and powerless labor. GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse — an orchard owner in Washington state — praised the legislation for capping the wages of farmworkers:

It will cap the ever-skyrocketing wage growth [for H-2A workers] in this country to 3.25 percent a year. Some states next year are facing a 9.5 percent increase. On top of that, it will allow full-time employers, like dairies, to be able to take advantage and utilize the H-2A program.

The inflow of visa-workers is also pushing Americans out of high-tech jobs and out of cutting-edge research careers — and so has helped India grow its economy and China to steal hugely valuable knowledge and secrets from Americans.

 Edsall recognizes this shift. But he blames the shift on Trump’s win in 2016, not on President Barack Obama’s prior 2012 ‘DACA’ amnesty which was intended to win immigrant votes in the 2012 election:

The GOP elite pushed for the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty after declaring that the party had no choice except to woo foreign migrants. Conveniently for the party’s donors, the 2013 amnesty would have reduced Americans’ wages for at least ten years while spiking the elite’s stock-market values, according to a 2013 report by the Congressional Budget Office.
In effect, since 2012, Democratic progressives and GOP-aligned business groups have increasingly divorced themselves from their former solidarity with their fellow Americans.

The elites’ sense of solidarity is increasingly directed towards the poor and grateful immigrants who are glad to accept the new cheap-labor rules that steer more wealth to the allied progressive and business elites.

The immigrants also impose divisive diversity on coherent American communities, much to the advantage of the business establishment.

On December 9, for example, the citizens of Bismarck, North Dakota, turned out in force to debate whether the county should accept more refugees. The Washington Post reported:

Burleigh County Commission Chairman Brian Bitner told the Associated Press in advance of Monday’s vote that he believed most of his constituents were against admitting more refugees. The question had generated a more intense response than anything else he had seen during more than a decade on the commission, he said. “The overwhelming public opinion is so clear to me, that I think if you vote for it, you’re not going to be reelected if you choose to run again,” he said.

Pro-migration advocates said the refugees were needed to satisfy employers’ demands for a bigger supply of workers:

North Dakota’s Republican governor, Doug Burgum, signaled in November that the state would continue to accept refugees by sending a letter of consent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In a statement issued Monday, he said he had “serious concerns that denying resettlement to a handful of well-vetted and often family-connected refugees would send a negative signal beyond our borders at a time when North Dakota is facing a severe workforce shortage and trying to attract capital and talent to our state.”

Locals worried about their children’s’ future:

“I’ve heard that most of the refugees coming in are women and children, and I understand that they need an education and to learn to speak English,” said a heavily bearded man who introduced himself as a sixth-generation inhabitant of North Dakota. “But we need to think about our kids here, too, before we start worrying about somebody else’s.”

The event could have been portrayed as a straightforward fight over the business demand for cheap labor, and the locals’ demands for a tight labor market that would help them get better pay for themselves and their children.

But settled refugees understandably spoke out in favor of more refugees, not with the local residents: The Post ended its article saying

“Since I arrived in this country, I felt like I finally found a home,” -A refugee from the Congo]  told the commissioners. But after he saw what a divisive issue admitting refugees had become, he said, “I started asking myself many questions, trying to figure out where I actually belong.”

The Associated Press spotlighted one refugee who suggested opponents were motived by racism:

“Look at the room and tell every immigrant here that they are not welcomed,” said Geraldine Ambe, who moved to Bismarck from Cameroon and is now a U.S. citizen. She said her aunt and her husband and their four children “ran from Nigeria to seek protection. “Please look at her face and tell her ‘we can’t help you,’” Ambe said.

The tacit alliance between business groups and migrants against the locals was shown in the Washington Post, which reported that:

One woman, an immigrant, said the business she and her husband own badly needed more workers. “We are just talking about 25 people tonight,” she said. “We need 25,000.”

Under the watchful eyes of the national media, the country’s five commissioners voted to accept more refugees.

So far, business groups and Democrats have blocked most of the migration reforms pushed by President Donald Trump. That opposition helped get at least 400,000 migrant workers through the border in 2019, and it has stymied efforts to shrink the visa-worker programs which suppress graduates’ salaries. These wins for cheap labor helped suppress wages gains amid an almost-tight labor market throughout 2019.

The business groups are looking for ways to expand the flow of legal migrants into the United States. For example, elites are pushing for a farmworker amnesty, rewards for Indian college graduates, more poor migrants, more investor visas, and the easy movement of labor between the United States and India via the U.S.-India Outsourcing Economy.

Amid this pre-2021 gridlock, the relentless push for more migration is creating a new fight with the elite parents who hope their children can be kept in the top 20 percent or top 10 percent. As universities fill up with the children of smart immigrants and the well-connected “diversity” recruits, the American professional class may gradually recognize how their jobs are being outsourced and how they are being demoted by U.S. investors and their growing workforce of hardworking Indian and Chinese immigrants.

That fight is escalating now, as multiplying groups of college-graduateTwitter-using activists opposing Mike Lee’s S.386 bill.

Meanwhile, Lee and his business allies use India’s workforce in the United States to pressure other Senators to endorse more outsourcing to Indian workers.

Unsurprisingly, few reporters in the establishment media have covered this important fight — likely because they share Edsall’s denial of economics in immigration,



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