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[Norm’s note: I’m for open borders.  Unfortunately, under conditions of ‘wage labour’ or ‘production for profit,’ immigration, especially the ‘illegal’ kind, which leaves ‘illegal immigrants’ more vulnerable to rapacious economic exploitation, can only benefit the business segments of any “community.” In such a context, the spontaneous reaction of any ‘native’ or ‘local’ working class toward ‘immigrants’ tends toward a sort of justifiable territorial hostility; however, if one understands the true social, economic and political dynamics here in play, one recognizes with whom one’s allegiances should lie: the real divide or antagonism at hand is not between ‘immigrants’ and ‘locals,’ but between ‘wage labor,’ on the one hand, irrespective of its immigrant or local composition, and, on the other hand, the so-called business community, that is to say, ‘the so-called national interest,’ by any other name.]

Source: The Berkeley Daily Planet

The Immigration Issue

Harry Brill

Thursday February 14, 2019 – 09:58:00 PM

President Trump claims that he [is] doing what he can to discourage illegal immigration to the United States (U.S). He has expressed concern about the adverse impact it has on providing jobs to American workers. In turn, he has won the support of particularly white members of the working class. This explains why the polls report that the public believes he is doing a good job. He has insisted that not only should illegal immigrants with criminal records be arrested and deported, which was Obama’s approach. Instead, all illegal immigrants, including those without a crime record, should be targeted.

The business community, on the other hand, loves and thrives on low paid, vulnerable labor. Shouldn’t crossing the border by immigrants be encouraged rather than dissuaded from coming to the United States? Why is Trump taking ostensibly a different position? Or is he really?

The mass media is trying to convey the impression that the U.S. government is serious about discouraging illegal immigration. So we learn that the number of arrests of non-criminal immigrants who had successfully crossed the border was up substantially in 2017 from the prior year –an increase of 40 percent, from 5,498 to 13,600. What has not been widely covered is that although the percentage increase is large it is a small fraction of the immigrants that cross the border undetected. In fact, the number of those who have been apprehended before they cross over is the lowest in 46 years, and 25 percent fewer than the year before. As a result, between 300,000 to 400,000 are able to evade the border patrol annually.

Moreover, border crossings are not the only source of unauthorized foreign labor. Substantial numbers, including those who arrive here as tourists, students, and workers overstay their visas. The visa overstays make up 42 percent of all undocumented persons in the United States. Since 2007 overstays have [exceeded] those entering illegally every year. In 20116, 629,000 overstayed their visas. According to federal statistics more people have overstayed on expired visas than have been arrested crossing the southern border.

That the federal government is not really interested in clamping down on those who are overstaying is suggested by its absence of a system for tracking visitors who leave their countries although several nations, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong have done so. Also, although it is a misdemeanor to enter the country illegally it is not a crime to overstay a visa.

In reality, the government works with employers to make available low wage, foreign labor, whether legal or not. The public learns from the media that ICE, which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has been arresting illegal immigrants who have been residing here. What is not as publicized is that Homeland Security issued 15,000 guest visas to employers, which they justified by claiming that there was not enough qualified U.S. workers. Translated, these employers are seeking to replace American workers with low wage foreign labor.

Despite the propaganda, the majority of the public is not being fooled. According to a poll by a major pollster organization (Rasmussen Reports), most likely voters are convinced that the policies and practices of the federal government promote illegal immigration. Since the current staff of 20,000 border patrol agents is almost double the number it was, say, in 2004, when more immigrants were intercepted, the suspicious perspective of the role of the federal government certainly makes sense.

But what about Trump’s claim that his anti-immigrant policy reflects his commitment to protect jobs for American workers? Consider Trump’s perspective on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protects young people from deportation who have been brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were young children. A substantial number of the approximately 700,000 young people who have been enrolled in the DACA program have been college students. Many of these students, 78 percent born in Mexico and 9 percent in Central America, have been able to obtain middle class jobs.

When Trump was campaigning to become president he promised if elected on repeal the DACA program on “day one”. He was not joking. As president, he made a serious effort to repeal the program, but he was unable to do so because of tremendous opposition from the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was supported by the courts. Among the many corporations that support the DACA program and who has high praise for DACA students is [Walmart]. And for a good reason. These vulnerable employees who had been enrolled in the DACA program are much less likely than American workers to be troublesome.

Although Trump has so far lost the battle, doesn’t it at least indicate that he cares about American workers? Not really. His actions certainly speak louder than his words. With regard to who obtains the good jobs, which many in the DACA program enjoy, he wants a white America. Unquestionably, Trump is a racist and is proud of it. In his own words, Trump asks “What do we want Haitians here for? What do we want ? Why do we want all those people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?” Trump also includes among the shithole countries El Salvador, which is mostly Hispanic.

But bringing low wage labor from abroad means including workers from “shithole countries[.”] Trump and the business community are on the same side.

About Trump’s proposal to send 2,000 to 3,000 [National Guard] troops to the border to stem the flow of immigrants is nothing more than bombast. All parties involved, including the Trump administration agreed that the [National Guard] members would not be allowed to have any physical contact with aliens. Trump thought that troops could for surveillance purposes fly planes over the territory. It is not just that flying planes would not justify sending such a large contingent of troops. The border patrol has already been flying drones for this purpose.

Incidentally, Governor Brown has agreed to deploy up to 400 National Guard members but just to combat criminal activity. His condition for sending troops is that there would be no expectation to enforce immigration laws or participate in the construction of any new border barrier.

That Trump and the business community generally […] prefer foreign labor is unquestionable. A program called the Optional Practical Training program allows undergraduates and graduate students to work for at least one year at jobs that [complement] their education. Incredibly, the government rewards employers if they hire foreign rather than American workers. The incentive it offers is to provide a tax break of 8.25 percent only to employers who hire foreign graduates. The program drains about $2 billion annually from the Medicare and Social Security trust fund. The purpose is to keep the best of these students in the country because they would work at a lower salary than paid to American workers

What else is the Trump and the business community thinking about to favor low wage foreign labor? The Trump administration has been recently meeting with the Mexican president to revive the notorious Bracero program (1942-1964) which supplied cheap manual labor for American farms. Almost five million were hired. Their low wages were eroded because they had to pay for their own food, clothing, and lodging even though these amenities were supposed to be free according to the agreement reached both by the Mexican and American governments. Also, the hours were long and the working conditions were dangerous. Although public officials were aware of these and other violations and conditions they did virtually nothing about it. So it is certainly no surprise that Trump is interested in working with Mexico to craft a similar guest program.

What these various attempts to recruit working people have in common is the proclivity to replace American with Foreign workers, who are willing, often out of desperation, to work at lower wages and poorer working conditions than what American workers have been accustomed to. With the decline of labor unions, employers have more options and working people have less. Any political program to reverse current trends requires rebuilding the labor movement. Undoubtedly, achieving this accomplishment is a long road ahead.