Thursday, August 03, 2017

Trump's Immigration Plan Would NOT Increase Wages

(Cartoon image is by Patrick Chappatte in the New York Times.)

Donald Trump has embraced an immigration plan put forward by Sen. Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Sen. Perdue (R-Georgia), and adopted the plan as his own. It is an odious plan that would cut legal immigration in half, and change those who now get preference from those with relatives already in this country to those who speak English and have skills desired by American corporations.

And to get the public to accept their plan, Trump and his aides are claiming that the plan will increase wages for American workers. They say that allowing the relatives of American residents to enter legally is just bringing in non-skilled workers who compete with Americans for low-wage jobs -- and that keeps the wages low in those jobs.

That's a huge pile of what comes out of the south end of a northbound horse. These immigrants are not taking jobs that Americans are trying to get. Most take jobs that Americans don't want (because they are difficult, dangerous, and pay next to nothing).

When these immigrant workers are no longer available, what will the American businesses who hire them do? Will they raise the wages of those jobs to attract citizens? NO! They will simply recruit workers in other countries, and apply for temporary visas to import those workers to this country -- just like Trump himself has done in his own businesses (and continues to do).

Wages of low-wage workers in this country have been kept abnormally low, but it is not because of immigrants (documented or undocumented). It is because of economic policies instituted by congressional Republicans (and supported by Trump) -- policies that keep the minimum wage at $7.25 (which is not a livable wage), hurts unions (and worker efforts to unionize), and rewards companies that export good American jobs. That's not going to change as long as Republicans control the government, which means wages will not increase for non-skilled workers (regardless of whether this immigration plan is enacted or not).

The immigration plan will have an effect on worker wages though. It will depress the wages of skilled workers. Why does Trump (and the corporations) want to bring in skilled workers? Is it because there are not enough skilled workers in the United States? NO! Our universities and trade schools produce plenty enough skilled workers to fill the jobs available.

Why give preference to skilled workers then? Because corporations can pay those foreign workers a wage that is far less than the prevailing wage in the U.S. for skilled workers. Those foreign workers will happily work for less (and lock themselves into long contracts at those lower wages) just to get a green card to enter and work in the United States. And the only way an American worker can compete for those skilled jobs is to also accept that same below average wage. It also keeps workers currently in those jobs from asking for raises, because they could easily be replaced by a foreign worker who'll work for less.

This immigration plan turns out to be nothing more than a thinly-disguised plan to depress the wages of American workers (and benefit Trump's corporate buddies, and himself).

This odious plan must be stopped. Congressional Democrats -- are you listening? A filibuster may be needed to stop it, and to protect American workers (protecting both their jobs and the ability to make a decent wage in those jobs).

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