Corporate Whining Over Immigration

As reported in the above-linked article, the corporate whining about the scale-back in immigration that President Trump began with his travel ban aimed at seven high-risk nations has begun.

While one can criticize the clumsy, sledge hammer approach to the ban, which should have allowed travel by people with valid green cards and should have allowed already-issued visas to simply expire while implementing a moratorium on new visas, the self-serving objections by the global corporations should be dismissed out-of-hand.  It’s not this travel ban that concerns them.  It’s the coming fight over the whole H-1B visa program that they use to suppress wages in the U.S. with cheap foreign labor.

That program, along with the heavily abused student visa program which fills the pipeline that supplies it, has  for decades been a major millstone around the neck of young American workers trying to get a start in life.  The student visa program is used to fill the seats of American universities with foreign students, keeping those seats in short supply for American students and propping up the sky-rocketing rate of tuition increases.  It’s the major reason that young Americans are saddled with so much student debt.  Global corporations then use those graduates to staff their American operations and suppress their labor costs.

Those people protesting the travel ban are likely the same people who rightfully are part of the whole movement that protests the truly immoral situation with income inequality.  It would be interesting to poll those people protesting Trump’s ban about their own financial status.  How many are saddled with crushing student debt?  How many can only dream of having a job like those held by these immigrants?  Does it not occur to them that they are merely pawns in the whole globalization scheme that is actually the root cause of income inequality, especially in the U.S.?

The protest of these CEOs that they have to rely on immigration for high-skilled workers is an insult to American workers.  I hope that President Trump soon turns his focus on slashing both the H-1B visa program and the student visa program.


2 Responses to Corporate Whining Over Immigration

  1. Brian E says:

    We need a guest worker program in many agricultural jobs– it’s not so much that Americans won’t do the work, it’s that it’s seasonal work– an influx of workers needed for harvest season in fruit and vegetable crops, neither of which have perfected mechanical pickers at this point.
    Unless you want more imported fruit and vegetables.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      We already have policies and programs in place for temporary workers. But immigration laws have gone unenforced for so long that those crossing the southern border don’t even bother with them any more. That’s not to say that the existing temporary worker process wouldn’t need additional manning to handle the volume. But do we really need that many? Yes, the work is seasonal, but we also have a grossly underutilized seasonal work force among the student/teenage population. It then becomes a matter of logistics – how to shuttle this work force from the urban areas out to the farms. In Five Short Blasts, I proposed a program I called “Farm Corps,” in which young people could earn tuition credit by working the fields. Again, it becomes a matter of logistics.

      You haven’t made the argument here, but we often hear it – that young people today simply won’t do that kind of work any more. As one who spent his summers with a pair of post hole diggers and a sledge hammer in his hands, building fence along new interstate highways, I don’t buy it. In the course of one summer, I could earn enough money to pay half of my tuition at Notre Dame. Today, a kid can’t even dream of such a thing. If they could make that kind of money, I guarantee that they’d be eager to do it. (A big part of the problem with high tuitions is the student visa program, the subject of my next post.)

      So it boils down to pay. I saw a report on the news just last night that estimated that the price of certain produce (the delicate stuff you mentioned, that can’t be harvested by machine), would have to rise by 5-6%. That’s not much, and it’s about right if you think about it. The price of labor to pick that tomato that you see on the grocery store shelf is such a tiny fraction of the cost, that raising that laborer’s pay by a factor of four would make for a price increase that’s barely noticeable. Factor the increase in cost of those delicate produce items into your overall grocery bill and it’s 1% or less.

      So then the argument comes down to whether or not we’re willing to pay that minuscule extra amount. If we’re not willing to do even that, then what does it say about our society if we’re not willing to pay what it’s worth to put food on our tables? I say it’s a sick society, and that argument treads dangerously close to the arguments made by opponents of the abolition of slavery.

      By the way, a lot of our fruit and vegetables is already imported – which is the only way to have fresh fruit and produce year-round.

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