Biden’s Commerce Sec. Spurns U.S. Chamber’s Demand for Foreign Workers

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 16: Construction workers build a home on April 16, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly announced that housing starts surged 19.4% in March to their highest level since 2006. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary bolstered evidence of a deep split over immigration policy in the administration when she spurned demands by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a greater inflow of foreign workers into U.S. jobs.

The rejection was delivered Wednesday by commerce secretary Gina Raimondo when she joined an online session of business leaders who were demanding the government provide them with many indentured workers in place of hiring Americans.

Raimondo’s denial is more evidence of a deep split between within the administration — whether to boost wages and training by ensuring a tight labor market, or whether to maximize employment and stock market gains by importing waves of cheap and compliant foreign workers for the jobs needed by Americans.

The Raimondo interview came after chamber officials invited member executives to demand a federal  “Operation Warp Speed” to double the population of roughly  two million cheap and compliant visa workers who now hold Americans’ jobs. This demand for foreign labor comes as the chambers’ employers are forced to raise wages to compete for willing American workers in a tight labor market.

Since 2018, the lower-migration wage pressure has been a growing shock to many executives — especially in the food sector — who had become accustomed to a bubble of cheap imported labor after President George H. Bush signed the 1990 immigration expansion law,

The chamber’s president and CEO, Suzanne Clark, invited Raimondo to endorse more migration:

And you know, the Chamber has said we need an Operation Warp Speed for jobs. What advice do you have to the state and local chambers across the country listening today, to large and small business leaders across the country, that are listening today? How do we instill this sense of urgency in more people?

Raimondo — a long-time ally of Biden — repeatedly spurned Clarke’s invite, and instead touted training, higher wages, and jobs for marginalized Americans over more immigration:

Look we have to do it. Again, I just was with somebody who runs a big company, and he said he right now is holding 1,000 open spots, because he literally cannot find people to take those jobs. And also, we have tens of millions of Americans working living in poverty because they don’t make enough because they don’t have the skills to get a higher paying job. So let’s do it. I’m committed to it.

The other thing [is] look at tech. [There is] so much discussion about competition competing with China, leaning into tech. That all revolves around talent. We aren’t going to compete successfully if we don’t have talent in science and technology. And not all of that is PhDs. A lot of that can be done with these sector-focused job-training programs.

So as far as I’m concerned, no matter how you slice it, if you care about equity, if you care about raising wages, if you care about American competitiveness, this [worker training] is at the heart of it. And we have a moment right now, to do it differently than has ever been done before and to really help businesses and help employees at the same time.

Raimondo pushed “diversity and equity” instead of migration:

When we did this in Rhode Island during [the coronavirus epidemic], we set up the 7,000 [apprenticeships], we were committing ourselves that more than half would be women, and more than 25 percent would be people of color. And we also said we wanted to make sure we had, you know, formerly incarcerated people could have a chance, people in recovery could have a chance. Because often those are the folks that are hardest to employ. And they’re not going to get a job unless they have some tangible skill.

Once the Rainmondo interview ended, Clark ignored the rejection and repeated the chamber’s demand for more foreign workers:

The world’s best and brightest who want to pour their talent and energy into our economy should have every opportunity to do so, which is why the Chamber will continue to lead the charge for doubling employment-based immigration, including H-1B [mid-skill] and H-2B [labor] visas …

Whether it’s writing a letter, sending an email, or making a call to your elected officials urging legislative action, you can directly lobby your members of Congress or state leaders or implementers, [to] support some of the ideas and initiatives discuss today in your own communities.

The Raimondo statement makes her a possible opponent of the American replacement policies favored by Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

His department was intended to guard the nation’s borders, but he is inviting a mass of job-seeking migrants to enter the U.S. workplaces via the many small doors in immigration law that were designed for low numbers of asylum seekers, parole recipients, victimized children, crime victims, or people stranded by homeland disasters.

In April, Mayorkas’s policies helped at least 60,000 job seekers to cross the southern border. He also approved 22,000 extra H-2B visa workers, removed Trump-era curbs on white-collar visa workers, renewed work permits for at least 100,000 Haitian migrants, and began awarding work permits to many thousands of Venezuelan migrants.

Biden is on both sides of the wages vs migration divide. He has repeatedly called for more migration and national amnesties — yet he also argues for a tight labor market to raise wages and productivity.

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.

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.

“Full employment” also means more options and opportunities for workers — including Black, Hispanic workers, 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.

The Biden split may be just incoherence instead of infighting, suggested Roy Beck, the former journalist who founded NumbersUSA:

I have a sense that [Biden], like most politicians, have never really thought carefully about tight vs. loose labor markets. Mainly, what they know is, well, if the economy is booming, you have a tighter labor market. They don’t really stop and look at, ‘”Okay, where are the workers coming from? … But it is willing ignorance. You want something to be true, and if some inconvenient fact pops up, you look for somebody that will tell you “No, it’s not true” so you can say “Okay, that’s enough because I want to believe that first thing.” … In the end, he is willing to be ignorant on these things because having as many immigrants as possible in this country as possible is the most important thing to him.

Biden “wants to believe that there is no level of immigration that could be harmful to America … [but Mayorkas’s] immigration policies work against nearly every economic — especially racial — that he says he is for,” Beck told Breitbart News.

If not corrected, that self-deception will eventually lead to him to implement President George W. Bush’s “Any Willing Worker” cheap labor policies for the benefit of business interests, Beck added.

Many clever progressives put themselves through mental gymnastics not to choose between wages and migration. For example, Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman started a June 1 column with the headline “Democrats must make a much clearer case for immigration,” but he ended simply saying, “immigration is good, full stop … the ultimate end point Democrats are seeking [is]: More legal immigration, less illegal immigration. It shouldn’t be that hard to communicate.”

“They’re deceiving themselves,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “It is not some kind of plot, it is they genuinely want two things that are incompatible, and when push comes to shove, open immigration always wins.”

“It’s not even that they pretend the immigration isn’t in conflict with the labor market — they just literally don’t even think that far,” he said. They are clever enough to have disciplined themselves to stop thinking before they recognize inconvenient conflicts, he said. Author George Orwell invented a term in his 1984 book for that self-discipline process, he added; “Crimestop.”


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