The House judiciary committee will debate and vote Wednesday on a bill to award multiple amnesties to the agriculture industry’s large illegal-immigrant workforce.
The “Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019” would also convert swathes of rural America into cheap-labor, low-tech company towns. The bill would allow employers to hire from the unlimited inflow of H-2A visa-workers whose low wages will be capped by government officials working hand-in-glove with cheap-labor employers — so leaving many Americans unemployed or underpaid in their own community.
“This is only a short-term—and despicable—solution for keeping workers on the farm,” said NumbersUSA policy director Rosemary Jenks, who added;
Rather than providing incentives for mechanization to reduce the need for manual labor, or even just streamlining the existing H-2A program, the sponsors of H.R. 5038 decided that it is time to complete the hollowing out of several other industries, in addition to seasonal farm work. They kept the numerically unlimited H-2A [visa-worker] category for seasonal work, but created a new, non-seasonal, year-round category so that at least 20,000 (and potentially many more) low-paid foreign workers can be imported each year to work at dairies, meat-packing plants, fish canneries, nurseries, and more.
Some of the committee’s Republicans will support the bill, predicted Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies. “I think they think it is a good thing for their community – but it is very shortsighted,” she said
“They can’t see the long-term cost of supporting this,” she said, and continued:
It is going to create a perverse incentive to expand that [cheap labor] sector of the economy because it will be subsidized by the supply of cheap labor, and it will suck investment and energy out of other types of economic activities that would be more beneficial [because] it perpetuates an outdated way of doing things that is expensive for taxpayers and damaging for quality of life. It is not going to pay off or bring a lot of benefits for the local economy — it is a very short-sighted view.
The GOP members on the committee include Rep. Doug Collins from Georgia, Rep. James Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin, Rep.Steve Chabot from Ohio, Rep. Louie Gohmert from Texas, Rep.Jim Jordan from Ohio, Rep.Ken Buck from Colorado, Rep.John Ratcliffe from Texas, Rep. Martha Roby from Alabama, Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida, Rep. Mike Johnson from Louisiana, Rep. Debbie Lesko from Arizona, Rep.Guy Reschenthaler from Ohio, Rep. Ben Cline from Virginia, Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, and Rep.Gregory Steube of Florida.
Some of the Republicans believe employers are entitled to a government-supplied labor supply, which would free them from the requirement to bargain with employees to set a fair day’s wage.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC says it will asks it members to oppose the amnesty:
ALIPAC believes the Amnesty bill will convert millions of illegals into US citizens, tilting all future national elections, and many states over to the socialist wing of the Democratic Party permanently as American voters and workers cannot compete with unending waves of illegals from around the world.
“We have defeated AgJobs Amnesty bills like HR 4916 before because Amnesty bills would encourage millions of future illegals to enter the US while rewarding left wing politicians and candidates and greedy corporations with a new population to be intentionally used to displace and replace Americans in our jobs, elections, schools, health care resources, and communities,” explained William Gheen, President of ALIPAC.us.
The H.R. 5038 bill, said Jenks, starts by giving:
amnesty—including work permits, green cards, and a path to citizenship—to illegal aliens who have been unlawfully employed in agriculture at least part-time during the past two years. In fact, illegal aliens who spent just most weekends working in agriculture over two years would qualify, since only 1,035 hours or 180 workdays are required.
The illegal workers would first get a “Certified Agriculture Worker” status and a work permit that allow them to compete for jobs throughout the United States. The CAW status could be converted after several years into the huge reward of citizenship for the workers and their families.
The mass amnesty and the CAW work-permits, however, will ensure that a large share of the former illegals — roughly 500,000 workers plus their families — will quickly migrate from the farms to the nation’s cities and towns. The huge supply of cheap labor will help suppress wages for Americans — including legal immigrants — and so further raise support for the big-government, tax-and-spend policies championed by the Democratic Party.
On the farms, and in the meat-processing plants, the departing illegals will be replaced by the uncapped and permanent inflow of low-wage H-2A workers, whose wages will be set by government agencies, not by a free market. This endless supply of regulated and cheap labor will minimize the need for farm companies and meat-processors to upgrade their technology or to pay the higher wages needed for prosperity in the rural towns. According to Jenks:
The sponsors of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act decided to address this problem by regressing to the 17th Century practice of indenturing these newly amnestied agricultural workers for various durations.
The same replacement policy has been used in the technology sector, ensuring that many Americans graduates have been sidelined while jobs and opportunities are hoarded by the Indian workers and managers who were hired by U.S. investors via the H-1B program. The H-1B program keeps roughly 750,000 foreign graduates in U.S. white-collar jobs, so pushing Americans out of critical jobs, such as information security, privacy protection, recruitment, technology development, and much else.
Many of the Indian H-1B workers are working while hoping to win the huge prize of citizenship from their original employers. That dangled prize makes them immobile, putting them in a situation similar to indentured workers in the 1700s.
Some GOP Senators are now pushing a bill — S.386 — which would expand the use of indentured white-collar workers by offering to eventually reward more Indian graduates if they take the white-collar jobs sought by U.S. college graduates.
In the House judiciary committee, Rep. Buck from Colorado sponsored the House version of the S.386 bill.
The farm amnesty bill offers 40,000 green-cards to H-2A workers each year, so encouraging them to accept lower wages in the hope of getting citizenship.
The likely impact of this rural cheap-labor economy is spotlighted by Worthington, Minn., where local business groups and progressives have jointly welcomed waves of low-wage migrants into the city’s retail and slaughterhouse jobs, into housing, and into the schools.
The migrants include many illegals who sneaked across the border, as well as many Central Americans who used border-law loopholes to get temporarily released into the United States. Many of these migrants also use the joint cartel-federal “Unaccompanied Alien Child” route to bring their children up from the border.
This illegal and semi-legal population provides many new customers to local retailers, landlords, and education officials, a steady supply of replacement labor to the 2,000-person JBS slaughterhouse, and an easy opportunity for local elites to dismiss civic and economic concerns as mere bigotry. The Star Tribune reported:
“In the downtown, all the storefronts are full and it’s busy,” said Sharon Johnson, a lifelong resident who owns a downtown jewelry store and also serves as director of community education. “The cultures we are exposed to through music and food and art have really made this a wonderful place to live.”
Bill Keitel owns Buffalo Billfold Co., a leather goods shop, and also owns rental property. “As a landlord, if I didn’t have these immigrants, my property values would plummet — as would everybody’s,” he said. “I look on them as our salvation, not our problem.”
Mike Kuhle, the Worthington mayor, celebrated the JBS factory and its imported workforce:
The JBS pork processing plant has grown because of the available workforce in our community. Its economic impact on our community and surrounding area is around $100 million in the form of wages, real estate taxes, sales taxes and hogs purchased from farmers within 100 miles of Worthington. Approximately 24,000 hogs are processed each day, from which the farmers benefit financially. The crops they grow that are turned into feed help to increase the value of their products. The hog facilities needed to grow the animals to meet the demand of JBS are an important source of income as well.
In the end. immigrants just want a chance for a better life, and the children want to be united with their families. Worthington needs employees to grow and prosper.
But local voters — who are mostly employees, such as truck drivers — repeatedly rejected a string of tax-raising proposals by the local council which wants to expand the local school for the child migrants.
In response, the Tribune printed the claim by employers that “racist element” among the voters opposed the tax increases to benefit the children of illegal migrants. The claim came from Linden Olson, who is a retired farmer and the treasurer of the school board:
In Olson’s view, the nearly $34 million bonding request, most of it slated for a new intermediate school, faces opposition from three groups: older residents, farmers concerned about taxes and “the racist element.”
“In my opinion, there is a sizable number of voters in our district that will not support any bond referendum for schools because they do not want to pay to educate ‘those kids,’?” Olson said. “There is a very strong racist attitude that is present and that few people are willing to deal with.”
The mayor also blamed the class dispute on unidentified racists, not on the city elite’s welcome for illegal labor:
I believe that the majority of our residents are not racist, but circumstances beyond our control are causing the problems.
Instead of recognizing the class politics, the Washington Post played up the racist claim, and hid the evidence that many of the imported workers are illegals who force down Americans’ wages and nudge up their rents:
Those [school] children, some of whom crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone, have fueled a bitter debate about immigration in Worthington, a community of 13,000 that has received more unaccompanied minors per capita than almost anywhere in the country, according to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Five times in just over five years, the district has asked residents to approve an expansion of its schools to handle the surge in enrollment. Five times, the voters have refused — the last time by a margin of just 17 votes. A sixth referendum is scheduled for November.
But the Post inadvertently showed how the inflow of migrants suppresses Americans’ wages:
One 17-year-old asylum seeker from Guatemala said he cleaned a meatpacking plant by night, attended class by day and milked cows in the afternoon before grabbing a few hours of sleep.
But he could never fully repay the Worthington relative with whom he was living. Now 18, he’s dropped out of school, moved to another state and works construction. His asylum hearing is scheduled for March in Minneapolis but he fears he won’t have the money to attend, forfeiting his already uphill battle for asylum.
Worthington School District residents approved all three of the district’s referendum questions. Passage of all three questions means the district gave the green light for the district to sell up to $33.7 million in general obligation bonds to construct a new intermediate school designed to educate 900 third , fourth and fifth-grade students. The district is [also] committing $5 million from its general fund to account for the estimated $38.7 million project.
The example of Worthington shows how the economies and cultures of America’s towns can be reshaped by the federal government’s supply of cheap labor, said Vaughan:
There is a cultural clash because a lot of these workers come from parts of the world where the social norms are different – they don’t have a lot of experience driving, their family networks are not present — which [otherwise] would be a normal constraint on their behavior.
The economic and civic problems brought by illegal migration will not be waived away by legalization, she said. “The displacement of American workers that happened, the strains on the school system from families settling in the area, and the accompanying criminal problems, such as drug trafficking and prostitution rings. These things go along with allowing the establishment of sizeable populations of illegal young male workers.”
Some Democrats may vote against the amnesty, Vaughan said.
She warned that “Democrats who are willing to stay true to their principles of opposing legislation that is bad for employees …are out-numbered and out-maneuvered by the more-immigration faction, the progressives who only want more immigrants, regardless of the effect on American employees or immigrant workers.”
Some Republicans are going to vote for the amnesty, Vaughan said. ‘I think they think it is a good thing for their community — but it is very short-sighted. They can’t see the long-term cost of supporting this.”