The immigration increases are backed by progressives who believe new immigrants will vote for Democrats. They’re also backed by wealthy voters who stand to gain from cheaper workers or services, such as landscaping and childcare. The increases are also backed by many business leaders, including Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who try to hire cheap foreign professionals for jobs sought by American professionals.
Competition from immigrants adds to the widening competition for work between Americans and the new waves of technology — such as software automation and untiring robots. Since 2000, the number of native-born, working-age Americans who aren’t working has shot up by almost 15 million to a total of 50 million, according to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors reduced immigration.
Some GOP leaders echo the claims by business lobbyists that a surge of low-skill immigration is needed, despite high unemployment among Americans.
“We will have labor shortages in — not right now — but in the near future, in, say, a decade,” Republican Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan predicted during a January appearance at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio.
“We’ve got 10,000 people retiring every day in America … and so the problem we have is our birthrates aren’t where they need to be,” said Ryan. “You need to prepare for that, and you need an immigration system that is wired and ready for that.”
In 2013, Ryan told an interviewer that dairy farmers need a perpetual supply of low-wage farm hands to milk cows, even though some farms in his Wisconsin district are increasingly using robots to milk their cows.
North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers made the same pitch in a February constituency meeting where several business leaders said they want to hire immigrant laborers instead of her constituents. “We know that we need the workforce,” she said.
Ellmers repeated her claim that farmers are facing a labor shortage during a contentious radio interview with Laura Ingraham.
The Gates tax-raising strategy is being challenged by California libertarian Run Unz, who says a $12 minimum wage would deter companies from importing low-wage workers for low-wage, taxpayer-supported jobs, and also reduce government welfare spending.
The $12 minimum wage would shift the nation toward a high-tech, high-wage, middle-class economy, like Switzerland, and away from its current progress toward a low-wage economy like Bangladesh, he said.
“Politics would be completely different … what you’re doing is reducing the 47 percent [of non-taxpayers] by 10 to 15 points and giving Republicans a chance to make their case about cutting government spending and reducing taxes,” he told The Daily Caller.