by Brian Lonergan
Anyone who follows politics is accustomed to the overuse of the word “reform.” It is almost always depicted as a highly desirable goal that will sweep away bad precedents and usher in a new era of smarter government policy.
Reform is often a good and necessary thing. But there are few words left more open to interpretation. Reform, depending on who is suggesting the change, can mean entirely different things even when applied to the same issue. This is especially true when it comes to immigration.
In recent congressional testimony for his department’s 2023 budget request, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh pleaded with representatives for immigration reform.
“If we want to continue to move forward as a country, we need to figure out some immigration laws and get some reform,” Walsh said.
Sounds good, right? Who can disagree? Particularly after witnessing the border policies of the current administration in practice, few would argue that changes aren’t needed, and needed fast. Beyond that point, however, consensus begins to fragment. What does immigration reform actually look like?
As Walsh mentioned and other Biden subordinates have articulated, their version of reform starts with a pathway to citizenship for millions of people here illegally. It also includes importing a seemingly endless number of foreign workers to fill jobs in tech and other fields.
These two ideas may generate a negative reaction in you, and for good reason. Nowhere in them is there a consideration for the citizens and legal residents of America.
The starting point for the Left in its immigration reform proposals is that those here legally must suffer in some way so that foreign nationals can prosper here. Such an attitude is to be expected as a guiding principle for a George Soros-funded, pro-illegal immigration nonprofit. But it is highly problematic as an operating principle for the federal government, whose workers have taken an oath to protect the citizens of the United States.
The evidence to justify Americans’ distrust of their government’s immigration reform efforts is ubiquitous. In February a bipartisan group of U.S. senators sent a letter to Walsh and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas calling for an increase in H-2B visas.
Unlike H-1B visas, H-2B is for nonskilled workers. Already facing the effects of COVID-19, inflation, and a possible recession looming, do the country’s blue-collar workers really need competition from cheap foreign labor as well?
The situation is even worse in the skilled-labor sector. The Immigration Reform Law Institute has been engaged in protracted litigation representing Save Jobs USA, a group of American professionals who were fired and forced to train their H-1B foreign visa replacements in 2015 by Southern California Edison. It is one of many examples where progressive immigration regulations serve the interests of noncitizens and large corporations at the expense of American workers.
Corporations are for-profit entities and are incentivized to keep their labor costs under control. The taxpayer-supported federal government, on the other hand, is supposed to act in the best interests of the country and its people. While employers will say there is a worker shortage, the Labor Department’s recent data shows 5.9 million unemployed persons in the country. The problem is not really a shortage of available workers, but Corporate America’s addiction to cheap labor.
The lodestar for an alternative immigration reform is that government should only enact policies that serve the best interests of America and its people.
As such, American workers should not see their wages drop or their employment terminated because they were undercut by imported foreign labor willing to accept substandard wages. Foreign workers should be allowed in, but only to the extent that they will remedy a legitimate shortage of workers in a particular skill set. It is only because we have been frogs in the Left’s proverbial slow-boiling water pot of anti-borders messaging that these ideas sound extreme at all.
It is absolutely true that we need immigration reform in America, but it is not the version currently being peddled in the halls of government today. The true constituents of the American government are the American people, not foreign nationals and Fortune 500 companies. The more citizens hold their elected leaders to that reality, the closer we can get to true reform.
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Brian Lonergan is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.
Photo “Immigration” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.