It's Immigration, Stupid!

Published on June 4th, 2012

When Bill Clinton ran for the Presidency the first time, it was reported that a sign with a four word slogan was hung on the walls of his campaign office.  That sign simply said, “It's The Economy, Stupid!”

The point was that those who were running the campaign understood that voters would be most interested in who would do the most to improve the American economy.  Back in school most of us found the study of economics to be a boring but essential class and so we dutifully did our homework assignments, read the required textbooks and studied for the exams in the hope that we would get decent grades in a mundane subject.

When we graduated from school and entered the adult world of jobs and mortgage payments it became crystal clear that while it may well be true that “Money is the root of all evil” money was vital for us to live the sort of lives that we dreamt of when we were growing up.  Suddenly economics did not seem to be as unimportant as it was when we were back in school!

The apparent wisdom of that phrase, “It's The Economy Stupid” was borne out when the votes were cast and Bill Clinton won his first term as President of the United States.

Today the economy is once again seen as a major issue.  The economy has tanked and millions of American workers are unemployed or underemployed.  More Americans than ever before are living below the “poverty line.”  Record numbers of American homes have been lost to foreclosure leaving abandoned homes in neighborhoods that already have a glut of vacant homes and homes that are for sale at prices that are, all too often greatly reduced prices.  Many homeowners who are still making mortgage payments now owe more on those mortgages than their houses are worth.  Euphemistically, such houses are described as being “under water.”  All of these factors continue to exert downward pressure on the value of many houses across the country creating a vicious cycle.

What is almost never discussed on the various news programs is the fundamental fact that while each week reports are issued about how many new jobs have been created or about what the latest unemployment statistics are, there are currently millions of jobs being held by foreign nationals (aliens) who are taking jobs Americans desperately need in order to survive!

Illegal aliens tend to take the bottom rung jobs where they work for substandard wages, often under conditions that are so substandard as to be patently illegal.  Day laborers often supplant American tradesman on construction sites.  My own dad was a construction worker- he was a plumber.  When asked what he did for a living he would proudly proclaim, “I am a plumber by trade!”  This meant that he had spent years serving in an apprenticeship program and after years of learning his trade, finally qualified to be a tradesman.  The same could be said for other hard working American construction workers who toil on construction jobs doing dangerous, physically demanding and filthy work as carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, steel workers, roofers and other such tradesmen.

In order to maximize profits there are home improvement contractors and other employers who have laid-off American tradesmen and now hire illegal aliens to maximize profits.  The quality of the work that is done by the day laborers does not come close to the quality of the work that honest to God tradesmen do, but the profit margins for those unscrupulous employers increased and enabled them to underbid those ethical employers who hired American tradesman.  Eventually the only way for most employers to remain competitive (and survive) was to emulate the practices of their competitors and hire illegal alien day laborers.

American professionals such as computer programmers and engineers are not fairing much better.  Today corporations that may refer to themselves as being “American companies” are actually multinational corporations that only say a pledge of allegiance to the bottom line!  They outsource manufacturing jobs overseas and whenever possible seek to hire foreign workers to take jobs in the United States by gaming the H-1B Visa Program and other such programs that enable high tech foreign workers to replace American workers.

Incredibly, on April 30, 2009 Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank testified before a hearing that was conducted by the Senate Immigration Subcommittee that was chaired by New York Senator Schumer.  Here is, in part what Greenspan had to say in his prepared testimony for that hearing:

First, skilled workers and their families form new households. They will, of necessity, move into vacant housing unit; the current glut of which is depressing prices of American homes. And, of course, house price declines are a major factor in mortgage foreclosures and the plunge in value of the vast quantity of U.S. mortgage-backed securities that has contributed substantially to the disabling of our banking system. The second bonus would address the increasing concentration of income in this country.  Greatly expanding our quotas for the highly skilled would lower wage premiums of skilled over lesser skilled. Skill shortages in America exist because we are shielding our skilled labor force from world competition. Quotas have been substituted for the wage pricing mechanism. In the process, we have created privileged elite whose incomes are being supported at noncompetitively high levels by immigration quotas on skilled professionals. Eliminating such restrictions would reduce at least some of our income inequality.

It is astounding that he had the chutzpah to call for making American workers compete with foreign workers to drive down wages of American workers!  It is astounding that he referred to American workers as the “Privileged Elite!”  What is even more astounding is that these remarks were made at an open hearing and that a video of Greenspan making these outrageous remarks can be seen by going online and reviewing the Senate announcement of that hearing.  Yet there was no news coverage of the hearing or of Greenspan's remarks.  There were no protests by any Americans.  In fact, the sound of silence was nothing short of deafening.

Prior to the Second World War, the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws was the responsibility of the Labor Department.  It was understood that the key to success for America and Americans was to provide good jobs at decent wages for Americans who were willing to acquire the education and skills to earn more money.  This gave rise to the Middle Class that was synonymous with the “American Dream.”

Clearly the time has come for our immigration laws to be effectively enforced to get Americans of every race, religion and ethnicity, back to work on jobs that will enable them to pay their mortgages, send their kids to college so that they will qualify for jobs that won't be done by imported foreign workers who game the visa process.

The effective enforcement of our immigration laws would provide the quickest fix to our nation's faltering economy.  The time has come for our politicians across our nation to hang a new plaque on their walls that reads, “It's Immigration, Stupid!”

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