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Bipartisan Bill Sings Same Old Mass Migration Tune

author Published by Chris Chmielenski

You have to hand it to Representatives Salazar and Escobar. They are not going to allow anything such as facts or logic get in the way of their open-borders agenda. They introduced a bipartisan bill called ‘The Dignity Act of 2023,’ which really should be called the Cheap Labor Act. It is difficult to imagine a more shiny gift to our business overlords. In exchange for amnesty for millions of illegal aliens and hundreds of thousands of new foreign workers, the bill authorizes money for the Department of Homeland Security to come up with plans to secure a border they haven’t had the will to secure for decades. In other words, it is largely the same amnesty package Democrats and Republicans have been peddling to a skeptical public since the George W. Bush Administration.

Both Salazar and Escobar were quick to pat themselves on the back for offering a reheated version of the same bipartisan “solution” that has failed to become law multiple times. Representative Salazar claims that the House of Representatives’ recently passed border security bill (which she voted for) is dead in the Senate. Her solution is to offer the same old tired bill that has failed in various forms under four presidents and countless congressional configurations. Since the media and Congress have an unquenchable thirst for amnesty, this is being taken seriously.

The bill stands for amnesty now and money for border security later. Money, mind you, that will be wasted in trying to stop border crossings encouraged by the policies the bill will implement immediately. Perhaps the most tone-deaf piece of the legislation is the vast expansion of temporary work programs that are already rife with exploitation. The bill expands H-2A and H-2B visas at a time when we are seeing forced labor, child labor, and wage theft rising among employers who use both.

For H-2A foreign workers, the bill codifies indentured servitude by dangling citizenship to foreign workers who will promise to work for abusive employers, while also expanding the industries that can use the unlimited labor pool. For H-2B, it just explodes the numbers by exempting returning workers from the cap. Additionally, the bill codifies automatic employment authorization for spouses of H-1B workers. American workers are clearly not a priority of this bill, which presumes that the only way to secure our border is by erasing it.

This vast expansion of foreign workers would shrink job opportunities for American workers, along with deflating their wages. For the foreign workers, it is simply rushing them to the job sites regardless of the potential for abuse. The argument for this policy is that it will expand legal pathways and thus obviate the need for aliens to enter the United States illegally to work. But this theory has already been disproven. The agricultural sector has an unlimited H-2A visa program and the employers who qualify still employ vast numbers of illegal aliens despite that fact. The Biden Administration has expanded the number of H-2B workers annually each year and that has occurred simultaneously with the vast increases in illegal border crossings. Vastly expanding the number of legal foreign workers actually correlates with expansion of illegal crossings, as legal workers tell their compatriots back home that jobs are available here. The simple fact is that there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who want to come to the United States.

Another thing that correlates with the expansion of foreign workers in the labor market is exploitation of the workforce. We know that the Department of Labor’s (DOL) “Low Wage/High Violation” industry list consistently includes industries with high proportions of foreign workers. We know programs like the H-2A program, which this bill would expand, are full of countless examples of the most horrific worker exploitation.

As for the vast expansion of H-2B workers, a lawsuit recently alleged wage-fixing by employers using the program. Employers who can avail themselves of H-2B workers are also perennial representatives in the DOL Low Wage/High violation list. These industries are also a part of the child labor and forced labor rise we have seen from coast to coast.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of automatic employment authorization for spouses of H-1B workers is a gift to the tech industry that is laying off hundreds of thousands of American workers at the same time they are breaking records for H-1B replacements. The tech industry has also been demonstrating a disturbing pattern of discriminating against American workers in employment recruitment.

So why is it that the only compromise Congress can reach doubles down on the labor exploitation business model? How is enabling such worker exploitation compassionate or dignified? The only good thing for American workers in the bill is mandatory E-Verify. To be sure, the country desperately needs national E-Verify implementation. The legislative price for E-Verify here, though, is far too high. E-Verify is designed to help employers avoid violating the law by hiring unauthorized workers. The policy boon of mandatory E-Verify is significantly mooted when entwined with amnesty for millions of illegal aliens and drastic expansion of temporary workers.

Another curiosity of the legislation is logistical in nature. Namely, the millions of illegal immigrants who would be able to apply for the amnesty provided in the bill would create a mountain of new work for agencies that are already overwhelmed. The bill attempts to try to expedite backlogs that already exist while simultaneously creating, at least, 11-12 million new applications for amnesty. The members of Congress supporting this bill are silent on how currently overwhelmed and understaffed agencies are going to be able to successfully streamline an amnesty program for millions while also expediting currently existing backlogs of millions. Without tripling or quadrupling staff across the government, which is not included in the bill, this is all make believe. Either the government will have to dismiss all vetting and just become an assembly line to rubber stamp applications or this is fantasy that expedites the growth of existing backlogs across the immigration system. Unfortunately, we already know what happens when vetting loses out to speed.

Foundationally, Salazar and Escobar are repeating the same flawed mistakes of past amnesty advocates. Simply legalizing mass migration to the country will not cure the problems it raises for labor exploitation, public resource strain, and threats to public health and safety, let alone respect for the rule of law. Cities and counties are not declaring states of emergency simply because the migrants arriving at their cities are illegally in the country. They are overwhelmed by the numbers that drain their limited resources. As we have seen, employers do not simply exploit illegal workers. The exploitation of legal foreign workers is as extensive and well-documented. Granting amnesty to millions and expanding legal employment pathways does not change any of the underlying concerns of exploitation and public resource scarcity. Rather, the Salazar and Escobar amnesty bill simply exacerbates the problems that are devastating our communities and workforce.

JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA

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