Arizona CEOs Push Senators Sinema, Kelly for Cheap Labor, Amnesty

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 10: U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaks at the at the hearing on Type 1 Diabetes at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF)
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF

Construction CEOs in Arizona are pressuring Democratic Senators Krysten Sinema and Mark Kelly to back the Democrats’ wage-cutting amnesty in the pending reconciliation bill.

“As business leaders in Arizona, we write to urge you to champion pathways to citizenship … This action is urgently needed to address the acute labor shortage across the state,” said the business group, in an October 15 letter from the Arizona affiliate of the American Business Immigration Coalition.

If either of the two Senators oppose the Democrats’ amnesty, then it will fail in the evenly divided Senate. If the amnesty push fails, then Americans may get a tight labor market where the CEOs will be forced to share more of their revenues with their employees, including many native-born Latinos and legal-immigrant Latinos.

“Legalization and pathways to citizenship will help ease our labor shortage,” said the letter, signed by real-estate developers and construction CEOs, including Bob Worsley, a wealthy, pro-migration, former real estate investor and former Republican state senator.

The letter comes as a shortage of migrant workers has been forcing many Arizona CEOs to pay higher wages to their American employees.

For example, Azeconomy.org reports that wages for construction crews are up 8.3 percent from September 2020. Similarly, wages for workers in the leisure and hospitality sector are up by 6.8 percent compared to a year ago, says the site, which relies on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Studies.

Those gains are notable because most employees’ wages have grown slowly over the last year — the average gain is just 2.5 percent. Moreover, many Americans’ wages have declined slightly because inflation is raising the cost of housing, fuel, and food.

The letter was signed by owners and advocates for construction and real estate companies, including Sunbelt Holdings, Chanen Construction, Holualoa Properties, Goodmans Interior Structures, and Sundt. Worsley owns NZ Legacy, a real estate firm.

Nearly all media outlets carefully ignore the economic interests of migration advocates, despite the salary-cutting impact on journalists’ white-collar peers. For example, the AzMirror.com quoted Worsley’s claim that his uplifting cause is stymied by racists:

“We need to get this fixed,” he said. “We need to have a way for people to come over the border legally, through the ports of entry, know who they are, allow enough to come to fill the jobs we need and let them go home when they want to to see their families, to visit, to go back to funerals. All these things are being denied to this class of people because of Republican and far-right nativism and racism.”

But the self-serving economic agenda keeps breaking through. for example, the AzMirror’s October 22 report also quoted a construction CEO:

Steven Chanen, who has operated a general contracting firm for 66 years, the labor shortage that the construction sector is experiencing is too severe. On a typical commercial project, his company sees about 600 workers on site, from construction managers to electricians, plumbers, steel workers, carpenters, and roofers.

“Each and every one of those 600 workers is getting more and more difficult to find,” he said. “As a whole, it’s hampering the Arizona economy and the U.S. economy.”

The hospitality industry also wants to end the tight labor market with an flood of imported labor, according to AzMirror’s report:

Kimber Lanning, CEO of the small business group Local First Arizona, said besides the labor shortage in construction and trades that is hindering development in Arizona, the hospitality sector is also in crisis.

“We now have restaurants that are closing 1-2 days a week because there’s not enough people to work and they need to give their staff a break,” Lanning said. “That prevents cash registers from ringing, it hurts the employees because of burnout. These jobs are open and available, and we don’t have enough bodies to fill them.”

Prior reforms in the state have reduced the population of illegal migrants, so helping Arizona residents get good jobs, buy houses, and build wealth. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2016:

MARICOPA, Ariz.—After Arizona passed a series of tough anti-immigration laws, Rob Knorr couldn’t find enough Mexican field hands to pick his jalapeño peppers. He sharply reduced his acreage and invested $2 million developing a machine to remove pepper stems. His goal was to cut the number of laborers he needed by 90% and to hire higher-paid U.S. machinists instead.

“Even if the size of the state’s GDP decreased, the decrease in immigration redistributed income from employers to employees, particularly at the bottom end of the labor market,” says Steven Camarota, research director of the Center for Immigration Studies, in Washington, which favors reduced illegal immigration. “That’s a good deal.”

“It was like, ‘Where did everybody go?’ ” says Teresa Acuna, a Phoenix real-estate agent who works in Latino neighborhoods. Real-estate agent Patti Gorski says her sales records show that prices of homes owned by Spanish-speaking customers fell by 63% between 2007 and 2010, compared with a 44% drop for English-speaking customers, a difference she attributes partly to financial pressure on owners who had been renting homes to immigrants who departed.

Any large flood of migrant workers forces down wages for Americans. In 2018, Breitbart News 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.

“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.”

ABIC has been lobbying for more migrant workers, consumers and renters for several years. Worsley’s Arizona branch follows lobbying by ABIC groups in Illinois, Florida, Texas, and other states.

ABIC’s leadership includes CEOs and investors from outside the tech sector, notably the Chicago-based real-estate investor Penny Priztker, the founder of PSP Capital. The group also includes a variety of religious advocates.

The ABIC group is working closely with Mark Zuckerberg’s lobby group for investors, FWD.us, and with the Koch network of investors. All three groups are pushing for amnesties and new migration laws to expand the flow of migrant consumers, renters, and workers into the United States.

For example, one of the leaders in Texas is Stan Marek, the owner of Marek Brothers, a Houston-based construction firm. In January, Marek said:

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.

The coastal investors in FWD.us stand to gain from more cheap labor, government-aided consumers, and urban renters. The network has funded many astroturf campaigns, urged Democrats to not talk about the economic impact of migration, and manipulated coverage by the TV networks and the print media.

Overall, legal and illegal migration moves wealth from employees to employers, from families to investors, and homebuyers to investors. Migration also moves wealth from young to old, from children to their parents, and from technology to stoop labor.

Immigration also moves wealth from heartland red states to the coastal blue states. Within each state, the extraction policy also helps move wealth and status from GOP rural districts to Democrat cities.

wide variety of pollsters have shown deep and broad opposition to labor migration and the inflow of temporary contract workers into the white-collar jobs sought by young U.S. graduates.

This pocketbook opposition is multiracialcross-sexnon-racistclass-based, bipartisanrationalpersistent, and recognizes the solidarity that Americans owe to each other.

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