Joe Biden Exposes Wages vs Migration Split in White House

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 21: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the East Room of the White House on May 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Moon Jae-in is the second world leader to be hosted by President Biden at …
Anna Moneymaker/Getty

President Joe Biden has exposed a deep ideological split in his administration by promising a tight labor market that would pressure employers to offer higher wages to Americans.

That promise by the 78-year-old Biden pits him against many of his younger appointees who prefer to maximize the immigration of wage-cutting foreign workers, regardless of the economic harm to working Americans.

Homeland secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, for example, has quietly opened numerous side doors in the nation’s immigration law. Those side doors can legally admit an uncapped number of asylum seekers, deported parole recipients, teenage workers, refugees, and undeported illegal migrants.

Biden explained his support for the long-standing and very popular goal of a tight labor market in a May 28 speech:

Rising wages aren’t a bug; they’re a feature.  We want to get — we want to get something economists call “full employment.”  Instead of workers competing with each other for jobs that are scarce, we want employees to compete with each other to attract wrk.  We want the — the companies to compete to attract workers.


Well, wait until you see what happens when employers have to compete for workers.  Companies like McDonald’s, Home Depot, Bank of America, and others — what do they have to do?  They have to raise wages to attract workers.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

A tight labor market also pressures companies to buy labor-saving machinery — for example, robot cow-milkers, farm machinery, and meat-packing gear — that allows Americans to be more productive for themselves and their company’s investors. Biden continued:

But here’s the deal: From 1948 after the war, to 1977 — I think it was 1977 — ’79 — productivity in America grew by 100 percent.  We made more things — productivity.  You know what the workers’ pay grew?  By 100 percent.

A tight labor market also spreads the coastal wealth to all corners of society, according to Biden:

“Full employment” also means more options and opportunities for workers — including Black, Hispanic workers, Amer- — Asian American workers, women — who’ve been left behind in previous economic recoveries when the labor market never tighten- — tightened up enough.

Look, this isn’t just good for individual workers, it also makes our economy a whole lot stronger.  When American workers have more money to spend, American businesses benefit.  We all benefit.  Higher wages and more options for workers are a good thing.

“This isn’t just an anodyne campaign promise anyone would make, it’s a direct rejection of core Clinton-Obama views on the economy,” responded J.W. Mason, an economist at John Jay College in New York.

“I can’t remember the last President who so clearly and unequivocally embraced full employment as their economic goal,” tweeted one of Biden’s deputies, Bharat Ramamurti. He works as the deputy director of the National Economic Council.

But the Mayorkas faction in Biden’s administration prefers the rival 1950s claim of a “Nation of Immigrants.”

That claim justifies an endless stream of government-delivered white-collar and blue-collar workers who deflate Americans’ wages and spike their real estate costs. That policy also diverts much wealth from heartland states to the coasts, such as Los Angeles and New York.

“We have a three-pronged approach,” Biden’s border chief, Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told a Senate hearing on May 13. “Address the root causes [of migration], to build legal pathways [into the U.S.], and to advocate more with the hope that Congress will pass immigration reform,” said Mayorkas, who tweeted April 28 that “immigrant-owned businesses that are the backbone of our communities — and of our country.”

“We’re increasing and improving legal migration,” Tyler Moran, a Mayorkas ally in the White House official,  told the Washington Post. “We have put in place a number of policies creating legal pathways to migrate and seek protection, and we see that as a metric of success,” she added.

On May 21, Reuters described one of Mayorkas’s imported workers, a Guatelaman migrant named Nicolas. Under Mayorkas’ watch, Nicolas tried six times to sneak into the United States and each time was returned by Mayorkas to the five-yard line in Mexico instead of to his home 2,000 miles away. But Nicolas’s desperation guided him over Mayorkas’s obstacle course, according to Reuters:

“I thought, ‘I cannot return to Guatemala. I’m going to fight,” Nicolas said, remembering the promise to provide for his three children and wife. He had used her land as collateral to pay for the trip.

“If I go back to Guatemala… I’m going to lose everything.” Nicolas spoke on condition of only using his first name because he does not have legal status in the United States.


Nicolas now lives in Houston and picks up construction jobs outside a Home Depot store, helping him send parts of his $100-a -day wages back home. Every week, his wife makes deposits towards Nicolas’ [$10,000+ smuggling] debt.

Mayorkas has also demolished the Trump-era regulations that protect American graduates from the uncapped inflow of college-trained foreign workers favored by U.S. Fortune 500 companies. The companies are pushing legislation that would allow companies to hire foreign workers with the promise of U. S. citizenship in exchange for 10 years of low-wage, no-complaint work.

Mayorkas’ nomination was strongly supported by Fortune 500 companies and trade groups, including the lobby group of West Coast investors. The group was created in 2013 by Mark Zuckerberg and is now funding a variety of groups to push Biden’s administration into accelerating the inflow of foreign consumers, workers, and renters.

The Zuckerberg group has close ties to senior White House officials, including Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff.

In April, the group helped reverse a White House decision to stabilize the inflow of refugees in 2021.

The lobby group shares allies with the parallel amnesty campaign by former President Goerge W. Bush to restore his “Any Willing Worker” plan. In early May, Bush described how he uses imported H-2B visa workers to keep his tree farm afloat.

In contrast, the tight labor market wage-raises promised by Biden have already been delivered by President Donald Trump’s low-migration policies in 2019 and again in 2021.

The New York Times reported May 30 that federal agencies have “been issuing far fewer immigrant work visas during the pandemic thanks to travel and other restrictions, so employees from abroad who usually fill temporary help, agricultural and seasonal positions are missing from the labor market.”

That labor squeeze has been great for working Americans, the paper reported:

Roller-coaster operators and lemonade slingers at Kennywood amusement park, a Pittsburgh summer staple, won’t have to buy their own uniforms this year. Those with a high school diploma will also earn $13 as a starting wage — up from $9 last year — and new hires are receiving free season passes for themselves and their families.

The big pop in pay and perks for Kennywood’s seasonal work force, where nearly half of employees are under 18, echoes what is happening around the country as employers scramble to hire waiters, receptionists and other service workers to satisfy surging demand as the economy reopens.


“Restaurants up and down Cape Cod have long relied on seasonal workers to prepare lobster rolls, tend bar and bus tables. But it has become hard to fill jobs with fewer workers coming from abroad and rising housing prices keeping domestic seasonal workers away, said Will Moore, a manager at Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon in Hyannis, Mass.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported May 29:

“It’s a very robust labor demand picture,” said Paul Harrington, director of Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy. “I’m seeing a lot of employers offering signing bonuses, and the last time we saw that in the teen labor market was in the 1980s.”

As of April, 32.8% of U.S. 16- to 19-year-olds held a job. That’s up from a pandemic-driven low of 20.9% the previous April, and it’s the highest employment level in nearly 13 years.


President Donald Trump also shut down visa programs that usually bring in foreign workers to hotels and resorts. “The adult and foreign laborers teens usually compete with for jobs just weren’t out there,” Harrington said. If that continues, he added, “I am confident we are going to get a strong rebound in teen jobs.”

“There are many reasons there is a shortage of workers,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on May 11.  “Some of it is because Trump cut off immigration so severely … We have half the number of immigrants that came in,” said Schumer, whose hometown is spending heavily to preserve its population of low-wage, rent-paying, service-worker illegal migrants.

Despite Biden’s preference for a tight labor market, Mayorkas allowed U.S. companies to import an additional 22,000 JH-2B seasonal workers for summer jobs — including jobs at theme parts and coastal resorts.

For many years, a wide variety of pollsters have shown deep and broad opposition to labor migration and the inflow of temporary contract workers into jobs sought by young U.S. graduates. This opposition is multiracialcross-sexnon-racistclass-basedbipartisanrationalpersistent, and recognizes the solidarity Americans owe to each other.

The voter opposition to elite-backed economic migration coexists with support for legal immigrants and some sympathy for illegal migrants. But only a minority of Americans — mostly leftists — embrace the many skewed polls and articles pushing the 1950’s corporate “Nation of Immigrants” claim.

The deep public opposition to labor migration is built on the widespread recognition that legal and illegal migration moves money away from most Americans’ pocketbooks and families. Migration moves money from employees to employers, from families to investors, from young to old, from children to their parents, from homebuyers to investors, from technology to stoop labor, from red states to blue states, and from the central states to the coastal states such as New York.






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