2005 July 28 Thursday
President Bush Forms Cheap Immigrant Labor Coalition

George W. Bush is recruiting big donors for a cheap immigrant labor coalition entitled "Americans for Border and Economic Security". (same article here)

WASHINGTON — Worried that the tone of the immigration debate is pushing Latinos away from the Republican Party, the White House is working with political strategists to create a broad coalition of business groups and immigrant advocates to back a plan President Bush could promote in Congress and to minority voters in the 2006 elections.

The strategists say Bush is planning to make immigration a top priority as soon as this fall, once the focus on a Supreme Court vacancy has passed. The push is being planned to coincide with next year's campaigns for the House and Senate, in which Latino voters could be crucial in several states. It is part of a broader White House strategy to forge a long-lasting majority by drawing more minority voters.

Aiming for an air of bipartisanship, the White House-backed coalition, to be called Americans for Border and Economic Security, will be led by former U.S. Reps. Cal Dooley (D-Hanford) and Dick Armey (R-Texas). The chief organizer is one of the capital's most important White House allies: former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who has hosted preliminary meetings at his Washington lobbying firm just blocks from the White House and has been advising the RNC on minority outreach.

I'm old enough to remember when it was considered a good thing and a sign of much desired progress when all classes of workers experienced rising salaries. Now a sitting President can organize a massive campaign to import millions of foreign workers to drive down native salaries and especially salaries of the poorest citizens. Times change.

Big money donors are being recruited for the new coalition.

A guest-worker program is favored by many Latinos and by businesses, many of them major GOP donors that depend on a steady flow of workers from Mexico and other countries. The White House effort is aimed at satisfying these groups while promoting tougher border security enforcement. The latter focus is an attempt to mollify a vocal bloc of cultural conservatives in the GOP — some in the House leadership — who argue that undocumented workers present a security threat and take some jobs that could be filled by Americans.

Bush wants the funds to attack the Republican base. Conservative talk radio has turned heavily against Bush's position on immigration. Ditto for some other conservative opinion outlets. Can big corporate donors fund an effort big enough to overwhelm the influence of populist anger? Can the Republican voters be persuaded that they are just there to vote Republican and that the party exists to serve the interests of those employers who use illegals and not the interesets of all Republicans?

Admission into the new coalition costs between $50,000 and $250,000. The proceeds are expected to pay for a political-style campaign for an approach to immigration that combines heightened border security with a guest-worker program of some sort, creating an environment that the White House believes will be more favorable for Bush to step back into the fray.

In an unamazing coincidence that combination just happens to show up in bill introduced into the US Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). The Cornyn-Kyl bill combines tougher immigration enforcement with a worker permit program.

The Kyl-Cornyn bill calls for the creation of a machine-readable, tamper-proof Social Security card that would be issued to every American in the workforce. It would also fund the hiring of 10,000 Department of Homeland Security personnel dedicated to weeding illegal immigrants out of the workforce and an additional 1,000 for detecting immigration fraud.

Companies that hired illegal immigrants would face tough fines.

Additionally, the bill would authorize the recruitment of 10,000 new Border Patrol agents over five years and a $2.5 billion investment in unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, barriers, and sensors along the Mexican border.

Unless the barriers extend the full length of the border and are thick and high the illegals are going to go around them or cut through them.

But cheap labor business groups object to the requirement in the Kyl-Cornyn bill for illegals to leave before applying for a worker permit.

The other, by Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would require workers in the United States illegally to return home before being permitted to participate in a new guest worker program. It would also throw enormous new resources at border, interior and workplace enforcement.

Kyl denied that his bill amounted to mass deportation, as many have charged.

Kyl's bill brings out the conflict between the business interests which just want cheap labor and the Hispanic activists who want more Hispanics to stay here permanently to form a larger Hispanic voting bloc. The Hispanic activists want all the illegals to stay without any inconvenience. The businesses want the Hispanics but are relatively less worried about inconveniencing them. Though of course the businesses do not want to be inconvenienced themselves. So their positions are not too far apart.

Don't expect Kyl and Cornyn to stick by their requirement for illegals to leave for long before becoming legals on return.

But the most important witness at the hearing turned out to be Hal Daub, a former congressman who now heads the American Health Care Assn. The industry he represents is clearly alarmed by the Kyl-Cornyn approach. Deporting illegal healthcare workers would be "disruptive to the delivery of quality care. It would cause a deterioration in the quality of that care," he said. By the end of the hearing, Cornyn was in full retreat, saying that maybe an illegal worker's "trip" home could be short enough to ensure no disruption in his employment. So the punishment turns into a vacation?

This all lends credence to the theory that the Kyl-Cornyn bill is a tactical gambit — backed by the White House — to produce a compromise bill that preserves the essence of McCain-Kennedy with a tougher veneer, so that it can be more easily sold to a skeptical House.

Dan Stein calls the cheap labor alliance "the Coalition to Destroy the American Middle Class".

The Bush Administration intends to satisfy the demands of some business interests to gain legal access to low wage foreign workers and to appeal politically to Hispanic voters. In an attempt to overcome staunch public opposition to the president's plan, the goal of the coalition will be to sell the plan as a solution to mass illegal immigration.

"A more accurate name for this association of special interest high-rollers would be the Coalition to Destroy the American Middle Class," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "It is a blatant attempt to convince America's embattled middle class that they will be better off if employers can legally bring millions of foreign workers to this country.

"Mass illegal immigration is certainly a problem, but the solution is not amnesty and guest worker programs," Stein continued. "Whether these millions of people enter legally or illegally, the impact on American workers and the nation's vital social institutions is exactly the same."

How to explain Bush's position on immigration? Is it driven more by a desire for Hispanic votes or more for employers of cheap labor? Steve Sailer thinks the Bush family is in a tight relationship with the corrupt Mexican elite. That elite is what America will replicate if we keep letting in the Hispanic flood.

I'm not surprised that a shallow pseudo-conservative president would put the interests of big business donors ahead of the long term best interests of the country. What I find more puzzling is the willingness of the liberal mainstream media to embrace cheap immigrant labor. See, for example, this Boston Globe editorial in favor of cheap immigrant labor. Granted, they don't use the term "cheap immigrant labor" but that is the core of the big worker permit proposal which the Globe apparently supports. Do the Globe's board of directors see cheap labor as in their economic interests? Do big liberal media outfits see themselves as having the same economic interest in cheap labor as do so many restaurant owners, drywall installers, and lawn mower service operators?

Phyllis Schlafly reports a recorded phone message she received from Newt Gingrich that uses the language of border security to sell the idea of importing cheap labor "willing workers".

But no, Newt was telling me about the danger from illegal aliens coming across our open borders. He talked about the threat this poses to our national security in an era of terrorism, the high costs to U.S. taxpayers, the follies of multiculturalism, and the urgent need for everyone in our country to be able to speak our English language.

The message was skillfully designed to appeal to Americans who are outraged at our government's failure to protect us from the invasion of illegals. But slyly buried in the middle of Newt's message was an endorsement of a "guest worker" plan to invite even more aliens to take U.S. jobs.

The politicians and business executives, who are determined to continue bringing in foreigners to work for lower wages than Americans expect, have gotten smart. The plan to import "willing workers" from other countries is now being packaged in the language of concern about border security.

This strategy is obvious in the new White House-backed coalition called Americans for Border and Economic Security, organized by Republican lobbyist (and former Republican National Committee Chairman) Ed Gillespie. Admission to this coalition costs $50,000 to $250,000, fees that will finance a political-style campaign to sell the American people on a guest-worker program wrapped in a few border-security measures.

The Bush White House is on message with the new pitch.

"The administration is consulting with Congress to discuss realistic and comprehensive immigration reform," White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri said.

Tamburri said it is "critical" that any immigration reform address border security, enforcement and the economic reality of the demand for willing workers. She said it must do so in a way that does not allow amnesty and establishes greater control of U.S. borders through increased security, domestic enforcement and a temporary-worker program.

The White House's strategy is to put forth a proposal that seems to get tougher on border security while at the same time putting in place a plan to give permits to illegal alien workers. The financed campaign behind it is not a guarantee of success given that conservative talk radio and many other sources of conservative opinion will fight against it. Bush did not succeed with the big bucks he lined up in support of Social Security investment accounts. So big financial backing is not a guarantee of success.

Bush wants a new immigration bill with more legal immigration and cheap temporary worker permits.

President Bush yesterday told House Republicans that he wants them to pass an immigration bill this fall, but members said he may not get a bill he likes.

...

The president did not go into specifics at yesterday's meeting, several Republicans said. But Mr. Bush previously has called for a guest-worker program that matches workers with employers who say they cannot fill those jobs with Americans. He also called for an increase in the level of legal immigration.

Employers want illegal aliens because they can pay them less than they pay Americans. No labor shortage exists in America. Market prices change to make labor demand and supply equal. This is Economics 101.

Cheap labor for employers means higher taxes for everyone at higher income levels. People who earn low wages inevitably turn to governments for medical and other services.

It's easy to understand why Wal-Mart is hostile to unions. Under the current balance of power between the company and its employees--uh, I mean "associates"--the average hourly wage is $9.68. That's substantially lower than the average hourly wage for all retail workers, which is $12.28. (In case you're wondering, the average hourly wage for all nonsupervisory workers in our labor force is $15.90.)

In addition, only about half of Wal-Mart's employees can afford to buy into the company's health-insurance plan. As a result, Wal-Mart employees are turning in droves to government-funded health programs to ensure that their children can see a doctor when they're sick.

Wal-Mart stands in marked contrast to Costco, which has a partly unionized work force (the Teamsters represent about 15,000 workers at Costco stores in California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia). Costco pays an average of $16 an hour, and 82 percent of its employees are covered by company health insurance.

Immigrant labor that is cheap for employers is subsidized by middle and higher income taxpayers.

If you want to understand why Bush's foreign worker permit proposal will not stop the influx of illegal immigrants then read my post "Thinking About Bush's Less Than Half-Baked Worker Permit Proposal".

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 28 01:47 PM  Immigration Politics


Comments
Jim said at July 28, 2005 2:41 PM:

the only real solution is to target employers, since illegals come here to get jobs, and employers respond exceptionally well to big fines.

the only way only way that the political landscape will change,imho, is when labor and the working poor in general realize that illegal immigration hurts them the most by taking their jobs. right now, i think this group empathizes with illegal immigrants and is hesitant to see them punished.

John S Bolton said at July 28, 2005 7:02 PM:

Right now, this group emphasizes with scabs, would they have said? Of course not; they emphasize with officials seeking latitude for aggression on the net taxpayer, smash the fat selfish rich bourgeoisie while you can. Officials want power to sacrifice the interests of the largest possible number. This is a competition in depravity between the viciously unprincipled moderate right and the monstrously anticaucasian left, to see who can sacrifice our standards more completely with more speed. What could be more obviously dishonest, than for the administration to pretend that they are for immigration law enforcement? If they pretend that they will defend the borders, who will believe them? They have squandered their credibility in pursuit of a constituency that isn't there. Remember this is power seeking, this is power greed, money is irrelevant. Business men are net taxpayers, foreign born in the lower percentiles of per cappita income are on net public subsidy, it has to be about power, not the profit on those who take their net subsidy from the net taxpayer, when on balance there isn't any.

noone said at July 29, 2005 3:56 AM:

"Steve Sailer thinks the Bush family is in a tight relationship with the corrupt Mexican elite."

He's partly right,W's half latino nephew(his mother was an illegal alien),George P.,is clealy the designated heir to the dynasty and was caught telling a political rally,in spanish,"I will fight for my people,as my mother taught me".Who do you think he meant by "our people"?Trust fund Wasps from New England?


"What I find more puzzling is the willingness of the liberal mainstream media to embrace cheap immigrant labor."

Not puzzling at all,the left saw the "labor proletariat's" move up the socio-economic ladder in the 50's and 60's as a betrayal of the revolution and abandonded them for the new race/sex/gender proletariat.Remember the blue collar hard hats slugging it out with radical chic hippies in the 60's?
Beyond that falling wages and mass immigration mean cheap welfare votes.

dan said at July 29, 2005 8:10 AM:

Parapundit, I think the strength of much of your anti-immigration arguments arises from
the standpoint of political agency. The immigrants will be political agents with all the rent
seeking desires that most groups have. Not, to mention just what kind of political regime they would favor.
Though current americans, in the guise of unions and many democrats, have also favored political regimes
that would undercut most americans standards of living. Possibly allowing unfettered immigration would tip the balance of power into their hands and that would not be a good thing.

I disagree with some of the others reasons you highlighted. Primarily, the idea that
rising salaries are in and of themselves good things. Salaries themselves are not the important
piece to an increase in better ovarall life. Purchasing power is. If salaries are increasing,
but what you can by for those salaries is decreasing then that really is not beneficial to
any "class" of americans, and certainly not the middle class. I think allowing large scale
immigration is good from the purchasing power standpoint. I also don't see why anyone should favor hiring
an american over an immigrant when the immigrant will charge less and therefore increase the
overall standard of living.

So what needs to be weighed here is the net benefit (loss) of immigration between loss created by political rent seekers versus free market gains in purchasing power and the standard of living.

Proborders said at July 29, 2005 8:20 AM:

A coalition of Democrats and cheap labor Republicans in the US House of Representatives could vote in favor of a new amnesty program for illegal aliens.

Many liberal voters probably would favor a new amnesty program for illegal aliens. If Mexican American voters were to prefer Republican political candidates over Democrat political candidates (as black Americans voters prefer Democrat candidates for Congress over Republican candidates for Congress), would liberals be as enthusiastic for amnesty for illegal aliens?

Randall Parker said at July 29, 2005 9:04 AM:

Dan,

When I speak of salaries I'm speaking of inflation adjusted salaries.

Low salaries increase the size of the group seeking state help. Immigration simultaneously brings in people who want state help (i.e. transfer payments from the more productive) while driving down native salaries at the low end. This increases the fraction of natives who can't afford medical care and other services and therefore increases their demand for transfer payments.

Plus, the black and Amerind Hispanics commit crimes at higher rates than whites. Plus, they get racial preferences which not only take from other workers but also decrease the efficiency of organizations.

Free market gains in purchasing power? Are you sure? The way I look at it when the fraction of the population that has lower cognitive ability grows then more of the labor of the higher cognitive ability has to be allocated toward dealing with them. This higher cognitive ability labor comes in the form of doctors, nurses, detectives, judges, prosecutors, social workers, etc. Absent the lower cognitive ability people to serve those higher cognitive ability people would be doing more productive work like product design, manufacturing process improvements, information systems development, research, and management of businesses. Therefore fewer new products get developed and fewer cost reduction techniques get developed.

Parenthetically, I bet Griggs v. Duke Power costs the US economy several hundred billion dollars per year.

Roy said at July 29, 2005 9:20 AM:

Dan,

I think your argument makes more sense in a world with no subsidies (ie. medicaid, food stamps, etc.) going to the poorest Americans. But the average unskilled US laborer is already a net drain on the US economy, and importing more just makes is worse.

Ned said at July 29, 2005 10:30 AM:

"There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans."
- George Wallace

Certainly, on this issue, George was correct. Many businesses (meatpacking, agriculture, textiles and carpets, hotels and restaurants, construction, etc.) rely heavily on immigrant labor and would be seriously hurt if it dried up. The owners of these businesses are mostly Republicans who clamor loudly against any attempt to limit illegal immigration. That the indirect costs of this folly are borne by the taxpayers is just another form of corporate welfare. Many conservative Republicans oppose both lawbreaking and welfare.

The Democrats have the same problem. They see the immigrants as their natural constituency - poor foreign workers heavily dependent on government programs for survival. This is manna from heaven for the Democratic liberals. But the labor unions hate illegal immigration because it drives down wages and these workers are highly resistant to unionization. Also, many of the African-American groups are uncomfortable with it because it may drive up unemployment among their members (note that Maxine Waters is one of the few Democrats who has spoken out against this issue).

One of the things that makes this so difficult is the volatile nature of the Hispanic vote (if, indeed, such a thing really exists). Traditionally, this has been a Democratic constituency. But Bush has always done very well with the Hispanics in Texas, and in the last election Republicans got 44% of the Hispanic vote. So both parties see the Hispanics as up for grabs and are loathe to offend them. This is quite different from the situation with the African-Americans, whom the Democrats take for granted and the Republicans ignore.

Given the powerful forces at work in favor of this type of immigration, I really doubt that anything much is going to be done about it. The Bush program sounds like pure fluff, but I bet it draws a lot of support from both sides of the aisle in Congress. This is just the type of program that spineless Congresspersons love - pretend to be doing something about a problem but in fact do nothing at all.

Randall Parker said at July 29, 2005 11:23 AM:

Ned,

Bush did not win 44% of the Hispanic vote. John Bolton first pointed out in a comment here a discrepancy in the data. Steve Sailer ran with John's observation and showed here and here and here that the 44% figure is a myth.

John S Bolton said at July 29, 2005 11:54 AM:

There seems to be a carte blanche for lying when it comes to effects of minority influxes, especially through immigration. The republicans are the ones who should say something, but they prefer to play along with the dishonesty and pretend that Bush did well with Hispanics in Texas and elsewhere, rather than expose the fact that the left was lying about the size of the Hispanic vote. Now Bush is trying to encourage those who can get a short term advantage out of a minority influx, to combine against the long term interest of the net taxpayers and the citizenry. This is like enlisting slumlords into a pressure group for increased welfare payments. Many will believe that the slumlords profited from the entire process, even though towards the end of it, they are burned out. Follow the power greed; not so much the money, to see who gains long term. It is those who can gain power from an increase in intercommunal conflict in society.

Ned said at July 29, 2005 12:55 PM:

RP -

Thanks for the correction. It appears that the 44% figure is a myth (I should read Steve Sailer more often - as usual, he's right on the money). According to the NRO article, the correct number is around 40%. Nonetheless, I don't think this detracts from my basic points. As NRO said,

So did Republicans make progress among Latinos in 2004? A closer examination of the NEP numbers shows that Bush’s gains among Hispanics, although lower than initially estimated, were both real and significant. Specifically, the GOP’s increased Latino vote share offset the potential Democrat advantage from a hefty increase in Hispanic registration and voting.

But talk of a GOP “average gain” masks how that gain was distributed. In states where conservative 527 groups, such as Council for Better Government and Hispanics Together (both of which I served as a consultant), ran intensive campaigns on Spanish-language media, the president’s Hispanic vote share increased sharply. In states where no such effort occurred, his Latino vote share improved hardly at all.

So Republican gains among Hispanic voters were "both real and significant." Plus, where Republicans tried harder, they did better. This will just encourage them to try harder still. This does not bode well for true immigration reform.

John S Bolton said at July 29, 2005 3:22 PM:

Republican operatives can't be as naive as they often make themselves sound, as if they believed that Latinos have the attitudes and priorities of leftist and secessionist ethnic leaders, who depend on foundation handouts. the percentage of Hispanics supporting immigration restrictionism is actually higher than that of the majority. They are the ones who have to take the lower wages and pay the higher rents, and who would have to engage a lawyer to get their children out of culture maintenance programs run by promoters of ethnic conflict. Advertising could target such voters, rather than be the imitation brand to the left, which exploits ethnic hostility to get more of the same.

Randall Parker said at July 29, 2005 4:24 PM:

Ned,

Sorry, your analysis is incorrect. The figures to watch are the gaps between ethnic groups. Between 2000 and 2004 Bush also gained among whites. He lost among Jews who were smart enough to understand the scale of his Iraq debacle.

If the only way a Republican can get 40% of the Hispanic vote is by getting 20+% more of the white vote then a Republican would have to get 70+% of the white vote to get a Hispanic majority.

Hispanics are not going to shift to the Republican side because they do not have Republican interests. They have twice the white illegitimacy rate. They get locked up at about twice the white rate in California and at an higher rate in the northeast where more of the Hispanics are part or fully black. They have higher poverty rates. They drop out of high school at higher rates and 12th grade Hispanics know about the same amount as 8th grade whites. Very low percentages earn advance degrees and few of them are in the tougher and higher paying fields such as medicine, law, and engineering.

Jorge D.C. said at July 30, 2005 7:42 PM:

Pat Buchanon says "A republic not an empire". Empires rise and fall like clockwork. They can't be sustained. And we are on the backside of a mammoth one.

The men behind our immigration non-policies whom you folks consider insane, blind, treasonous etc. are actually clear-thinking and practical. They are pursuing economic empire.

Wake up. The agrarian republic was ditched 150 years ago. It's the Minutemen, Buchananites and nationalists who are blind or insane. In the age of economic empire the internationalist will kick the nationalist's ass every time. That is the whole ballgame.

Bob Badour said at July 31, 2005 7:40 PM:

"Americans for Border and Economic Security"

Has anyone else noticed how downright orwellian that sounds?


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