Investor Lobbyists, Senators Demand More Imported Workers

Newly sworn in US citizens wait in line to apply for Social Security cards following a naturalization ceremony at El Paso County Coliseum on April 18, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. - About 740 immigrants from countries throughout the world were sworn in as US citizens. (Photo by Paul Ratje …
PAUL RATJE/AFP/Getty Images

Business groups and cheap labor advocates are denouncing President Donald Trump’s plan to shrink the inflow of invited refugees down to 18,000 in 2020.

“Slashing the refugee program goes against both our national values and our economic interests,” said John Feinblatt, the president of billionaire-backed New American Economy advocacy group. “Refugees help reverse population decline, start new businesses that create jobs, and boost tax revenues,” he said. His group claimed that “between 2016 and 2018, the number of new refugee arrivals to Salt Lake City dropped by 70 percent, creating major problems for local ventures.”

The existing population, 2.3 million refugees in the United States, had $56.3 billion in disposable income in 2015, Steve Hubbard, a data scientist at New American Economy, told a sympathetic Newsweek reporter. He continued:

“In a community, you want to make sure you have workers … employers want to see that and people who work in economic development want to see that there are plenty of workers in the area, because it attracts business and entrepreneurship,” Hubbard said. “With communities like Salt Lake City, they have seen a decrease in the number of new refugees arriving … and that’s creating problems of finding enough workers for future ventures and for entrepreneurship and things like that.”

Mike Bloomberg founded the NAE network, and the members include Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase, and Laurence Fink at BlackRock, Inc.

“The Trump Administration’s continual efforts to gut the refugee and asylum systems harkens back to the worst moments in our nation’s history,” said Todd Schulte, director of another investor-funded FWD.us lobby group. “America has been made stronger, more prosperous, and more vibrant because of the contributions of people seeking refuge and asylum,” said Schulte, whose wealthy investors — including Zuckerberg — gain from higher inflows of workers, renters, and consumers.

Trump’s new goal of 18,000 invited refugees is far less than President Barack Obama’s 2017 push to invite more than 100,000 refugees from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America.

Throughout his eight years, Obama worked with several government-funded groups to send new refugees into town with labor-intensive meatpacking plants — usually without any regard for the wishes of the local Americans.

So Trump’s 18,000 goal was released with a new policy that would give Americans the authority to block the drop-off of new refugees into their communities.

The drop-off policy does not try to prevent settled refugees from moving to other towns and cities, but FWD.us still denounced it:

Further, the idea that we would allow states or localities to block people who have been vetted and approved to live in the US, from resettling in certain communities is wrong. Segregating immigrant populations will only serve to further divide our country.

Trump allowed up to 30,000 refugees to be imported into 2018. So, the new goal of 18,000 is a drop of just 12,000 refugees, or maybe 5,000 workers.

That is a tiny number in an economy of roughly 165,000 million workers, so the complaints by businesses are part of a broad public relations pushback against Trump’s overall immigration policies.

Since 2016, business groups have set up a wide variety of legal, activist, legislative, and public relations efforts to block and frustrate Trump’s planned immigration reforms, which are expected to boost wages for blue-collar Americans.

Some GOP politicians joined the public relations chorus.

“I’m disappointed to see that the Administration has once again decided to decrease the number of refugees we allow into our country,” said a statement from Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, whose state includes many meatpacking plants. “I appreciate the Administration’s focus on curbing illegal immigration and caring for asylum seekers, that doesn’t mean we should continue to reduce the admittance of refugees who are fleeing from persecution in their home countries.”

In 2017, Lankford said that the 800,000 “DACA” illegal aliens are good for the economy.

The job issue is an interesting issue, because those individuals are already in the job market. Many of these DACA students are actually DACA young adults, they already have access to the job market right now because they’ve been given deferred action. So they are in higher education, they are in the job market, they are currently a part of our economy, currently. That continual competition in our economy doesn’t hurt us, that continues to help us. It actually hurts us to put those individuals out of the economy.

Trump reduces the number of invited refugees partly because border officials also expect 350,000 migrants to arrive at U.S. border to appeal for asylum and refuge. That estimate of 350,000 new migrants is roughly equal to one new refugee for every ten Americans who turn 18 in 2009.

In August, Lankford and 17 other Democratic and GOP Senators urged Trump to invite more refugee labor, saying, “we urge you to increase the refugee resettlement cap and to admit as many refugees as possible within that cap.”

The GOP senators have repeatedly voted against Trump’s immigration reforms. The GOP signers were Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), John Thune (R-SD), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

Lobbyists’ objections to the new policy are presented as concerns about civil rights and humanitarianism.

But invited refugees increase the supply of extra labor and so help to cut wages for Americans.

So far, Trump has helped to raise Americans wages by repeatedly refusing business demands for extra imported labor.

Business lobbyists argue that extra imported labor does not reduce Americans’ wages. But numerous economists quietly acknowledge that imported labor shrinks Americans’ wages and salaries — even as the extra labor, consumers, and renters grow the economy and Wall Street’s values.

“Folks appear to be switching jobs more frequently, and they’re getting not only a wage boost but a stronger wage boost than in the relative past,” said Nick Bunker, a labor economist at Indeed.com. “This is just another sign of how a stronger tighter labor market helps lower-income workers” to get higher wages, he told the Wall Street Journal.

“Tight labor markets are generally characterized by increased competition among employers to attract workers,” the New York Federal Reserve reported in September. “First in the mid-90s, earlyish, and then rest of the 1990s, as we all know, wages increased at a robust level at all quintiles, and that was in some fair measure, due to tight labor markets, which in turn, at least in my, view, were a function in some fair measure, of good policy,” Robert Rubim, a leading Democrat and a Wall Street banker said in 2018.

The National Academies of Sciences reported on page 171 of its September 2016 report, titled “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration,” that “Immigrant labor accounts for 16.5 percent of the total number of hours worked in the United States, which … implies that the current stock of immigrants lowered [Americans’] wages by 5.2 percent.”

“As the immigrants leave, the already-tight labor market will get tighter, pushing up labor costs as employers struggle to fill the open job positions,” said a 2016 economic prediction by Mark Zandi. “Mr. Trump’s immigration policies will thus result in … potentially severe labor shortages, and higher labor costs,” the critical report promises.

Georgetown University professor Harry Holzer told Yahoo News in 2019 that immigration expands national economies but also lowers individuals’ wages and salaries:

This is probably the main reason that immigration generally is good for an overall economy … It increases the supply of workers in various fields, and often reduces the labor costs in those fields for two reasons. Number one … some immigrants are willing to work for less than their native-born counterparts. But also, it’s just extra supply, and an extra supply of workers reduces the costs.

If the immigrants weren’t there, the wages would likely be rising … And that might be better for some of the native-born folks.

Imported H-1B visa workers also nudge down salaries for Americans. “Foreign workers on H-1B visas offer employers many advantages: they cannot typically quit the employer who hires them without losing their status, their opportunities in their home country often are substantially worse than these U.S. opportunities, and so forth,” according to Peter Cappelli, Wharton management professor and director of the school’s Center for Human Resources. He continued:

Wages do not rise to reflect the shortfall [of American workers], U.S. employees do not pursue these fields because of that, and employers then become completely dependent on H-1B workers to fill them. We have seen this play out in earlier periods where nurses and mid-level programming jobs were almost completely filled by foreign workers on these visas.

Immigration Numbers:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or a university. This total includes about 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business or health care, engineering or science, software, or statistics.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of about 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers and spouses — and about 500,000 blue-collar visa workers. The government also prints more than one million work permits for new foreigners and rarely punishes companies for employing illegal migrants.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth and stock values for investors. The stimulus happens because the extra labor ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

The federal policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor shifts wealth from young employees toward older investors. It also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, reduces marriage rates, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.

The cheap labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and it sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with drug addictions.

The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the Heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, undermines suburbia, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

But President Donald Trump’s “Hire American” policy is boosting wages by capping immigration within a growing economy.

The Census Bureau said September 10 that men who work full-time and year-round got an average earnings boost of 3.4 percent in 2018, pushing their median salaries up to $55,291. Women gained 3.3 percent in wages, bringing their median salaries to $45,097 for full time, year-round work.

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