President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name as his Labor Secretary fast food executive Andy Puzder, who stands diametrically opposed to Trump’s signature issues on trade and immigration — which won him the election.
Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.
Advocates for American wage-earners say that Puzder as Secretary of Labor is alarming because he will be in charge of enacting policies that directly impact American workers, whom Puzder believes are “unwilling” to do certain jobs. Puzder has suggested that available U.S. jobs should instead be filled by imported foreign labor.
Puzder has even gone so far as to suggest that he prefers foreign laborers to native-born American workers because foreign nationals are more grateful and have a better “attitude.”
“The fact is that there are jobs in this country that U.S. citizens, for whatever reason, are reluctant or unwilling to perform,” he said in a 2013 Politico op-ed in which he advocated for expansionist immigration policies.
As the Washington Post reported, Puzder suggested that flipping burgers is one such job Americans simply won’t do:
“Andrew Puzder, head of the California-based Hardee’s fast-food chain, said his business is a good fit for immigrants because they are willing to start at the bottom and work up…
“Immigrants appreciate what America offers,” Puzder said during a recent visit to Washington to lobby for immigration reform. “They are not taking jobs from Americans, because there are not sufficient Americans applying for jobs. Maybe they feel they have better options.”
Isn’t the argument for importing low-skilled immigrants that they take jobs that Americans won’t do? Farm labor is almost certainly one of those hard-to-fill jobs, but it’s news to me that working a fast-food counter is another — unless perhaps that niche becomes dominated by Mexican or Central American immigrants. A black kid from Watts is going to have a hard time getting hired at a Carl’s Jr. in South Central L.A. where all the employees speak to each other in Spanish.
Polling data suggests that Puzder’s desire to import foreign workers to fill U.S. jobs stands opposed to the desires of the American electorate.
Indeed, a 2014 poll from Kellyanne Conway’s polling company found that by nearly a 10-1 margin, Americans believe that companies should raise wages and improve working conditions for workers already here – rather than importing new foreign labor from abroad to fill American jobs.
Yet, during a 2013 AEI panel, Puzder seemed to express his preference for foreign workers over native-born Americans. Puzder said that his California labor force, which has a high percentage of foreign-born workers, is comprised of “hardworking, dedicated, creative people that really appreciate the fact that they have a job. Whereas in other parts of the country you often get people who are saying, ‘I can’t believe I have to work this job.’ With the immigrant population you always have a “Thank-God-I-have-this-job” kind of attitude, so you end up with a real different feeling. Now that’s a gross generalization… but I think it’s probably accurate.”
Last year, Puzder even joined forces with Michael Bloomberg, Bob Iger, and Rupert Murdoch’s open borders lobbying firm, the Partnership for a New American Economy, to call for “free-market solutions” to our immigration system.
“America should be a destination for hard-working immigrants from all over the world. Our economy will benefit from that,” Puzder wrote, perhaps unaware of the fact that the U.S. already has the world’s most generous immigration system– admitting one million plus foreign nationals on green cards; one million guest workers, dependents, and refugees; and half a million foreign students each and every year.
Puzder has been equally vocal about his support for immigration amnesty.
In 2013, Puzder lamented that the federal government’s current immigration policy is unfair to “undocumented workers who are lured to the country by the prospect of employment, [but] then must live in the shadows.”
Similarly, in a 2015 op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal’s open borders opinion pages, Puzder declared that “every candidate should support a path to legal status” for all illegal immigrants “willing to accept responsibility for their actions”.
In a July 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored with Stephen Moore, Puzder insisted that the President-elect’s plan to enforce U.S. immigration law and repatriate the illegal population is “unworkable.”
“[Many undocumented immigrants] live in fear of being deported, losing what they’ve built and being separated from their families,” Puzder separately told reporters during a 2015 conference call with top GOP donors. “Our values indicate we should be the party of immigration reform.”
By “immigration reform” Puzder was referring to a widely-used progressive euphemism that means amnesty and flooding the labor market with foreign workers. Indeed, as Puzder himself explained in 2013, “comprehensive immigration reform” should include “a robust legal immigration program, including incentives for highly educated people to come to the U.S. and a guest worker program; a pathway to adjusted status for those here illegally now; and special relief for the children of undocumented immigrants.”
“The reality is that the government is not going to enforce the law effectively now against those who are here unlawfully,” Puzder wrote in 2013. The United States, Puzder reasoned, simply lacks “the will” to enforce U.S. immigration law:
There are more than 11 million illegal immigrants in our country. Many have families, homes, jobs and children who are American citizens. We simply are not going to take them from their homes, put them in prisons, load them on buses and take them back over the border. Nor will we enact draconian measures that drive them from their homes or their jobs and force them to “self-deport.” As a nation, we lack both the will and the resources to implement such policies.
More recently, Puzder has argued that “deportation should only be pursued when an illegal immigrant has committed a felony or [has] become a ‘public charge’.”
However, President-elect Trump himself explained why only enforcing some aspects of U.S. immigration law would be unfair to American workers. During his immigration speech delivered in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump said:
Immigration law doesn’t exist just for the purpose of keeping out criminals. It exists to protect all aspects of American life – the worksite, the welfare office, the education system and much else. That is why immigration limits are established in the first place. If we only enforce the laws against crime, then we have an open border to the entire world.”
In his 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Puzder also described himself as a “free trader” who “oppose[s] punitive tariffs.”
Many have credited Trump’s pro-American worker stance on trade as part of the reason he was able to break through the left’s “blue wall” in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews explained on election night, Trump won, in large part, due by running against the Washington establishment’s position on trade and immigration:
The fact that we don’t have an immigration system that we enforce: business wants the cheap labor, Democrats want the jobs and the votes. Nobody’s gotten it together. In terms of trade… just drive through Michigan, drive through Wisconsin, and you’ll see places that are hollowed out…Trump said, ‘You know what, I think I can run against this stuff.’ … It was a legitimate campaign on those issue.
It remains to be seen whether Puzder will abandon his former open borders positions on these issues and will take up Trump’s pro-American worker platform on trade and immigration, which won him the election.