Business Lobby: Amnesty Is Good for CEOs and Government

Aerial view of Honduran migrants heading in a caravan to the US, as the leave Arriaga on their way to San Pedro Tapanatepec, in southern Mexico on October 27, 2018. - Mexico on Friday announced it will offer Central American migrants medical care, education for their children and access to …
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An amnesty would generate more taxes for the government and more cheap workers for businesses, according to a pitch from a construction executive and various Koch network activists that sidelines the interests of American employees.

Stan Marek, the owner of Marek Brothers, a Houston-based construction firm that has employed many illegal migrants, is pushing the “ID & Tax Proposal” amnesty:

Let’s face it: those 11 million [illegal migrants] are not sitting on their duff. They’re working somewhere. They may be working under a fake Social [Security Number], they may be working as an independent subcontractor, but they’re working and they’ve got skills. A lot of these workers working in the underground economy, used to work for [construction company] people like me. They were let go because of ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] audits or Social Security No Matches, or insurance audits or whatever, and yet they’re 11 to 12 million people in this country on payrolls sending in about $6 to $7 billion a year of Social Security [payments] that they would never get. These ICE audits have taken millions of people off of payrolls and dumped them into the underground economy where they’re working for cash and not paying taxes.

The fix is “an adult DACA: We know it works because it works for 800,000 people,” said Marek, who has long complained about the No-match letters.

“This is crony capitalism … business partnering with government to increase its profits [by cutting Americans’ wages] while dumping the costs on taxpayers,” responded Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “By legalizing the illegal immigrants, the benefit to employers is greater because there’s more of the cost of [cheap labor] immigration that taxpayers can be forced to bear.”

Marek’s “DACA” refers to President Barack Obama’s 2012 award of work permits to roughly 800,000 young illegal migrants under the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. The DACA work-permit giveaway has not been approved by Congress, partly because many millions of Americans are worried about their families’ jobs, income, and health in an increasingly elite-controlled economy.  “It’s not amnesty,” Marek wrote in 2014. “It is a sensible program aimed at identifying people and taxing them for working in the United States. That’s the kind of border security we need.”

The corporate demand to hire illegal migrants instead of Americans comes amid a housing boom that could otherwise help pull many sidelined Americans back into jobs and the middle-class. But Marek’s video excludes any talk about Americans’ current or future role in their own nation’s economy.

The children of migrants are “our future workforce,” said Marek, as the video shows migrants working in jobs needed by Americans such as cleaning hotel rooms, driving, construction, and laying bricks. The video also shows many jobs where employers prefer to use cheap migrant labor instead of investing in labor-saving machinery. So the video shows migrants cutting weeds with prehistoric tools, milking cows, picking fruit by hand, and delivering food by bicycle.

Several investor-funded activists echoed Marek’s call for cheap labor in the video.

Deporting illegal migrants would be an economic “tragedy,” said Daniel Griswold, the immigration policy director at the Koch-funded Mercatus Center. “Think of the workplaces that would be disrupted,” he lamented.

Because “95 percent of the undocumented residents in this country are employed, it means that the market can bear it,” said Tony Payan, from the James A. Baker Institute at Rice University. “I think the immigration system in the United States has a huge gap — we don’t have [work] visas for the kinds of workers that our very dynamic economy often needs.”

Payan’s call for endless visa worker inflows echoes the “any willing worker” plan pushed by President George W. Bush — and dodges the question of whether the United States should adopt a two-tier society of citizens exploiting powerless foreign workers.

The video did not mention that companies are free to hire employees away from other companies by offering higher wages and benefits.

This video sympathy helped Marek and other speakers to offer progressives and government employees a share of the potential benefits from the mass amnesty of illegal migrants.

“We think over half of the undocumented are uninsured,” said Ken Janda, an adjunct professor of healthcare management at Rice University. “That’s a challenge because if they don’t have the cash to pay, those costs are shared by the rest of the community. Either tax dollars pay for them, or … those costs have to be pulled out of insurance premiums and insurance dollars from other sources.”

The amnesty pitch was wrapped in a soft-focus video, which portrayed the illegals as the victims, even though the illegals voluntarily enter the United States, break laws, and extract wages away from Americans’ labor market. For example, Marek offered sympathy for the poor migrants who accept low wage jobs from construction executives:

The jefes that run big crews, the labor brokers who violate every principle and law, yeah, they’re making a lot of money. But if you take the typical worker out there walking on that truss, that are working as independent contractors, they’re living in poverty, most of them. They don’t have workman’s comp, and if they get hurt most of them are going to just suck it up. If they get hurt, they’re going to go to the ER [hospital emergency room]. And if they go to the ER, it’s expensive and we have to pay for it.

Marek and his allies repeatedly blamed Americans for not welcoming an uncapped inflow of migrants that would push the Americans out of jobs, cut their wages, spike their housing costs, and crowd their children’s’ schools.

“We have not given the [illegals] the opportunity or [the] certainty to be able to fully contribute to the country,” said Jorge Lima, the senior vice president of policy at the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity group. “That is not just hurting them, but that’s hurting us.”

“This is us who becomes the obstacle,” said Robert Sanborn, president of Children at Risk. a Houston, Texas, advocacy group for migrants. “I worry about all these kids [of illegal migrants] that could be tremendous economic assets for us … they’re always going to be underperforming.”

“Our legal immigration system has failed for years to keep up with the demand of our economy,” said Ali Noorani, the president of the National Immigration Forum.”Since there are very few legal pathways for people to enter the country, [migrants] make a decision to overstay a visa, to enter without inspection and hence, we’re faced with this population of unauthorized immigrants.”

The video ignored the impact of the cheap-labor migrant workforce on the employment and income of American workers. In 2018, Breitbart reported:

Blaine Taylor, the whistleblower, said the construction industry in California once offered a starting wage of about $45 an hour in the late 1980s. Fast-forward to 2018 — nearly two decades into when illegal aliens began flooding the industry — he now says that wages have fallen by more than half, standing at just $11 an hour.

Taylor continued:

The reality is that a person that was hired as a laborer in 1988, I paid $15 an hour and within a month if I could leave him on the job alone, he got $20 an hour. If I hired somebody that already knew how to do certain types of labor or certain types of operations, they would get $20 an hour.

Now, the average wage in Los Angeles for construction workers is less than $11 an hour. They can’t go lower than the minimum wage. And much of that, if they’re not being paid by the hour at less than $11 an hour, they’re being paid per piece — per piece of plywood that’s installed, per piece of drywall that’s installed. Now, the subcontractor can circumvent paying them as an hourly wage and are now being paid by 1099, which means that no taxes are being taken out.

Marek’s pitch to progressives is “the latest example of employers trying to globalize the American labor market so they can hire anybody they want from abroad and break the bargaining position of American workers,” said Krikorian. He continued:

There’s not that many unions, generally speaking, but American workers in a tight labor market have bargaining power, even as just individuals. But if the labor market is expanded to include in effect the entire world, then there can never be a tight labor market. It becomes effectively impossible. That puts employers in the driver’s seat and takes away any [marketplace] bargaining power that American workers would have, even those who aren’t in unions or have any kind of formal organization.

“In a tight labor market, they still have market power [to demand higher wages]; With a globalized labor market, American workers lose that market power,” he added.

Many polls show that the public welcomes legal migrants — but also much prefers that new jobs go to Americans first. In April 2020, a Washington Post poll showed 69 percent of Hispanics said yes when they were asked, “Would you support … temporarily blocking nearly all immigration into the United States during the coronavirus outbreak?” Just 30 percent of Hispanics opposed the border shutdown.

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