Bernie Sanders made waves when he declared that open borders was a Koch brother idea designed to suppress prevailing wages among America’s working class.

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“What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that.  I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?[1]

But his immigration platform does little to help America’s poor. Rather it would help other country’s poor by increasing legal services and prevailing wages for guest workers within the United States.

  • Authorize and substantially increase funding for the Legal Services Corporation to provide legal representation to guest workers who have been abused by their employers. Further, employers should be required to reimburse guest workers for housing, transportation expenses and workers’ compensation.
  • Substantially increase prevailing wages that employers are required to pay temporary guest workers. If there is a true labor shortage, employers should be offering higher, not lower wages.[2]

Sanders is fighting for better wages for other countries’ poor and disadvantaged within the U.S. instead of focusing on getting unemployed Americans the training they need to fill these jobs. Ending or limiting guest worker programs would open up more jobs for Americans. Employers will then have to offer wages that meet market demands (without the additional government intervention Sanders proposes).

America’s immigration policy should not take advantage of any foreign national, nor should it disadvantage any American. Sanders is right to address the former, but should be careful not to do so at the expense of the latter.



[1] http://www.vox.com/2015/7/28/9014491/bernie-sanders-vox-conversation

[2] https://berniesanders.com/issues/fair-and-humane-immigration-policy/