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“Self-preservation has always been regarded as the first law of nature…Those who favor unrestricted immigration care nothing for the people. They are simply desirous of flooding the country with unskilled as well as skilled labor of other lands for the purpose of breaking down American standards.” – Samuel Gompers, founder, American Federation of Labor
The Gang of Eight’s Immigration Reform bill was celebrated by groups as diverse as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, LaRaza, Karl Rove and the new leadership of the AFL-CIO. Some observers say this is an example of real political compromise. Others say this is insider political corruption at its worst.
Sen. Ted Cruz says the alliance is not only suspicious, but “egregious” if the goal is actually economic or humanitarian. He says that buried deep in SB 744 is verbiage that allows the IRS to place a $5,000 fee on any employer who hires a legal African-American, Hispanic, union member, or other legal, disadvantaged applicant:
“I filed an amendment that would have corrected one of the most egregious aspects of the Gang of Eight bill as it intersects with Obamacare legislation, namely a penalty imposed on U.S. employers for hiring U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. This bill says if an employer hires a citizen or a legal immigrant, the IRS can impose a $5,000 penalty on that employer. But if the employer instead hires someone with RPI [provisional] status [for illegal aliens], that penalty will go away. That is utterly and completely indefensible.
“Nobody in this body wants to see African-American unemployment go up. Nobody wants to see Hispanic unemployment go up, youth unemployment go up, union household unemployment go up, legal immigrant unemployment go up. Yet every one of those will happen if this Gang of Eight bill passes without fixing this problem. If that happens, all 100 members of the U.S. Senate will be accountable to our constituents for explaining why we voted to put a federal penalty on hiring U.S. citizens and hiring legal immigrants. I hope this body will choose to pass my amendment and fix this grave defect in the Gang of Eight legislation,” he said.
But it isn’t just top level political insiders pointing to facts that don’t add up. Regular citizens, like Teresa Ferguson, are reaching out to WND to tell their stories.
Ferguson noticed something sinister going on in her small town in Alabama. It was not so much the increase in the Hispanic population was more rapid than neighboring towns. She noticed increased gang activity, prostitution arrests, and a huge decline in available jobs for local workers, and other problems with illegal immigration in her community. Then one day, she was a victim of a hit and run, and the problems became very personal for her when she learned later that the driver was an illegal.
She began to reach out to candidates running for office, and she says she asked only if they would come visit her small town in Marshall County, Ala. Ferguson says they were shocked at what they saw – a massive increase in brothels, methamphetamine use, joblessness for locals, and poverty.
In June of that year (2012), Ferguson applauded lawmakers (many of whom she had personally given a tour of her town), who passed one of the toughest illegal immigration bills in the country. Unemployment numbers in Marshall County continued to decrease to 6.9 percent (from the original 10 percent), while neighboring counties’ numbers continued to increase.
Ferguson says the numbers don’t lie.
Unemployment decreased almost immediately 10 percent (the fastest drop in the shortest amount of time in the country at the time), and continued to decrease almost 40 percent. Curiously, passport applications increased exponentially (300 percent). Mexican nationals overwhelmed passport offices to secure passage for themselves and their anchor children to go back to Mexico. In the months that followed, unemployment and crime rates continued to decrease.
Today, Gov. Robert Bentley, who signed the bill into law, is running unopposed for a second term. Alabama Democrats tried to recruit a candidate to run against him, but with a flourishing economy and a bill that worked for the southern state, they could not find anyone to run.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2013, unemployment in Alabama is 6.8 percent, well below the national average of 7.5 percent. By comparison California, home to the highest percentage of illegal immigrants (over 25 percent of the total U.S. population), has an unemployment rate almost 30 percent higher than Alabama at over 9 percent. Texas, with the second highest illegal population, manages a 6.5 percent unemployment rate. According to the numbers, states that take a tougher stand in enforcement can maintain a healthy work environment for their lawful residents.
The Forgotten People
Black unemployment rose steeply during Jimmy Carter’s term in office to almost 20 percent in 1982. Those numbers dropped precipitously during the Reagan administration, dipping to a low of 8 percent during Bush’s presidency in 2007. Under Obama, and with increases in illegal immigration, black unemployment now stands higher among than any other ethnic group, at almost 16 percent.
Groups with the most to lose in competition with 12 million low-skilled immigrants for blue-collar jobs are low-skilled workers and traditionally disadvantaged minorities. It is somewhat surprising that their representatives in Congress and in the AFL-CIO and SEIU would endorse anything that would make things worse for their constituencies.
The endorsement of a Senate bill to give not just permanent worker status but eventual full citizenship to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants by big business and corporate farming interests is not surprising and neither is support by LaRaza and other leftist and Hispanic organizations. It is the support by groups that traditionally opposed open borders and who represent those most negatively affected by them that is a change.
Labor change in policy
Organized labor has a long history of opposition to not just illegal immigration but at times opposing any immigration at all. Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, the first part of what would become the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor organization, issued the following statement that speaks for itself, “The American Federation of Labor made an earnest effort to have immigration restricted for at least two years. It also urged that an immigration law be enacted containing the provision that after that period of two years an order can be issued absolutely prohibiting immigration during times of unemployment.”
This raises the question of why the dramatic change in the position of organized labor in favor of not just allowing permanent worker status for illegal immigrants but wholesale enthusiasm for it. American labor unions are more zealous in support of a path to citizenship than support for border security or any border security or efforts to restrict immigration at all.
In 1921, the United States was in the middle of what turned out to be an 18-month recession and unemployment hovered between competing statistics of 8.7 percent to over 11 percent, so that backdrop lends some context to the position. However, the U.S. remains in a six-year recession with 7.5 percent unemployment nationally and several states approaching 10 percent unemployment.
The Congressional Budget Office reports that the influx of millions of new workers, mostly low-skilled, would result in higher unemployment and lower wages. The farm or construction worker operating in the underground economy would now be eligible to work almost anywhere in the service industry and directly compete for those jobs. Yet the Service Employees International Union, representing the lowest skilled workers, is also 100 percent in favor of this move.
On the other hand, Peter Kirsanow, a Republican commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and former commissioner on the National Labor Relations Board, called the bill a disaster for American workers.
“The assurances of the bill’s proponents that the bill will somehow help the economy obscure copious evidence that the bill will wreak enormous damage to the employment prospects of American workers who have already seen their wages and employment rates plummet over the last several years.”
A Congressional Black Caucus press release on SB 744 made no mention of concerns for black youth unemployment focusing instead on concern about diversity of future immigrant populations. All signs suggest that black Democrat politicians will fall right in line with the leftist groups supporting the bill. On the other hand, the Senate’s only black member, Tim Scott, R-S.C., voted against the bill. It is interesting to note that in South Carolina, a state with 8 percent unemployment, Scott broke with his state’s senior senator, Lindsey Graham, who supported the bill.
A Governing Coalition
Elisio Medina, the second in command at the Service Employees International Union, is also an honorary chairman of the communist front organization, Democratic Socialists of America. KeyWiki.org, describing itself as focused on the “covert side of politics,” points out that Medina has a plan:
At the America’s Future Now! conference in Washington, D.C., on June 2, 2009, Medina addressed attendees on the necessity of comprehensive immigration reform.
Speaking of Latino voters, Medina said, “When they voted in November, they voted overwhelmingly for progressive candidates. Barack Obama got two out of every three voters that showed up.
“So I think there’s two things that matter for the progressive community. Number one, if we are to expand this electorate to win, the progressive community needs to solidly be on the side of immigrants, that we’ll expand and solidify the progressive coalition for the future…
“When you are in the middle of a fight for your life you will remember who was there with you. And immigrants count on progressives to be able to do that.
“Number 2: We reform the immigration laws, it puts 12 million people on the path to citizenship and eventually voters. Can you imagine if we have, even the same ratio, two out of three?
“If we have eight million new voters who care about …… and will be voting. We will be creating a governing coalition for the long term, not just for an election cycle…”
Could the answer to why organized labor unions, leftist groups, and even the Congressional Black Caucus, join with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove in opposition to the interests of American workers, be purely political?
The AFL-CIO demand for “Citizenship Now” is a vast departure from Samuel Gompers’ assertion that, “Those who favor unrestricted immigration care nothing for the people.”
The radical position of the leadership seems very far left of simply calling for a robust guest worker problem. Some would argue that it stands in contrast to the mission of the AFL-CIO that holds, “The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of the working people of America.”
The Weekly Standard interviewed five senators who voted to end the debate on SB 744, (all Democrats), and asked them if they were aware of the $5,000 penalty on businesses who hire legal minorities that Cruz described. None of them was.
SB 744 is now in the House where it faces an uncertain future. If the experience of Alabama is any guide, the nation could virtually eliminate unemployment by simply securing the borders and barring illegal immigrants from working by punishing employers who hire them.
The “Governing Coalition” of business interests, labor interests, Democratic politicians and Democrat Socialists may be, in the words of Samuel Gompers, too many “hostile forces…in favor of a rapidly revolving labor supply at low wages to a regular supply of wage earners at fair wages.”