The Myth of a Low Skill Worker Shortage

“The ‘Gang of Eight’ senators working on comprehensive immigration reform (including Arizona’s John McCain and Jeff Flake) have reportedly hit a snag over a guest-worker program for the future. That’s not surprising. The politics of a guest-worker program are difficult enough. The policy specifics are mind-numbing. Once you wander into that snake pit, it’s difficult to find a way out,” Robert Robb says in the Arizona Republic.

“And it’s all based on a false premise perpetuated by the business community: that the country has an ongoing need for large numbers of low-skilled imported workers. And that, in turn, is based on the false premise that illegal immigrants are doing work that legal workers won’t. Except for in agriculture, that’s not true.”

Illegal Alien Climbs Over Fence in Front of Schumer, McCain During Their Border Visit

“John McCain, on a visit to the border town of Nogales, Ariz. with colleagues Chuck Schumer, Michael Bennet and Jeff Flake, bore witness, firsthand, to one of the challenges Congress will face as it attempts to craft immigration legislation: securing the border,” National Review says. “Standing at the country’s Southern border, McCain tweeted: “Just witnessed a woman successfully climb an 18-ft bollard fence a few yards from us in #Nogales”

Wage Fight Over Guest Worker Pay

“The big fight inside the immigration reform talks right now is, at first glance, a little strange. The AFL-CIO wants temporary foreign workers to be paid significantly more than their average native-born counterparts. The Chamber of Commerce wants to be able to pay them less. Why?” asks the Washington Post.

“The dispute is over whether businesses should have to pay a premium to hire foreign workers through a newly created guest-worker program and, if so, what that premium should be. Business wants to be able to pay foreign workers the same as native-born workers, with the federal minimum wage as a floor, reports the LA Times.”

“Union officials, by contrast, have proposed a tiered system that would ask employers to pay anywhere between 20 percent and 70 percent more to hire foreign workers, which includes both wage hikes and fees, TPM reports. ‘Bringing in workers below median by definition lowers median wages for everyone,’ says Jeff Hauser, an AFL-CIO spokesman who argues that the higher wages will benefit both native- and foreign-born workers. ‘The greatest problem with the economy for more than a generation has been declining rather than raising wages.'”

Former Sen. Simpson: Guest Worker Plans “Exploitation Deluxe”

“The bipartisan Gang of Eight senators hammering out immigration reform got through some dicey moments and was looking to finish its work. Until last week, that is, when they ran into the question of what to do about workers coming to the U.S. temporarily to fill jobs that most Americans are unwilling to do,” Bloomberg News says.

“To solve the impasse, Democrats urged a compromise last week that would apply existing language governing high-skills visas to low-skilled workers. Under this proposal, foreign workers could be employed in the U.S. only when it ‘will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly situated workers in the United States.'”

“Sounds benign enough. Who wants to adversely affect ‘wages and working conditions’ of American workers? Employers, that’s who. Former Republican Senator Alan K. Simpson, the engine behind the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration overhaul in 1986, said as much back then. To get his legislation passed, he included a guest-worker provision. Simpson said at the time that it wasn’t ‘survival but greed’ that drove agribusiness to demand more guest workers.”