If United States Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), David Purdue (R-GA) and President Donald J. Trump have their way, legal immigration will be slashed in half and those that overcome the obstacle course constructed by these Senators will arrive in the land “of huddled masses” with MBA’s, doctorates and speak the language of Shakespeare before they even apply for entry into the U.S.
On one hand that will improve the United States and these new immigrants won’t steal software coding jobs that belong to Americans; nor will they steal jobs from Hispanic and African American workers in agriculture, or that clean our hotel toilets or wash the millions of restaurant dishes used every day by millions of Americans.
On the other hand, President Trump’s own mother wouldn’t qualify from entry from Scotland, nor would Presidential aide Steven Miller’s family be allowed in from Europe, not because they were Jewish but because they didn’t speak English. Miller explained the Cotton/Purdue/ Trump proposal to the regular presser in the White House.
Years ago, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo (R) made the same English first argument and lied to us all that his Sicilian grandfather prohibited the use of Italian in his house. What possible motive could a U.S. congressman like Tancredo or U.S. Senators like Purdue and Cotton or even the President have?
We cannot speak with authority on the motives of Cotton, Purdue or Trump but we can in the case of Tancredo. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) publicly demanded that then Congressman Tancredo be expelled from the Republican Party because, he declared, Tancredo was a sheer unadulterated “racist.”
What we can say is that this proposal does not reform or solve profound shortcomings in the immigration system. If this bill passes, the seriously defective immigration system will remain defective. Why? Because it does nothing to solve the employment crisis that exists in three areas – the hospitality industry, agriculture and the construction business.
The very immigrants this proposal profiles will do nothing to solve worker shortages in those critical industries. Every single restaurant, fast food and sit-down, I have visited in recent months are looking for people to employ. The other day I walked into a Jack-in-The-Box and walked around a waist high sign at the door – Help wanted, career opportunity, $11.50-per-hour. Rookie hamburger flippers making $11.50-per-hour. Son of a gun!
Non-Hispanic Whites, the very political base the Cotton/Purdue/ Trump triad seek to assuage, avoid jobs in fast food to the point that in Southern California most manager jobs are held by Mexican Americans. They have taken advantage of the vacuum left by non-Hispanic Whites to carve out a highway to middle-class America. Jack reports that his store managers can make more than $60,000-70,000-a-year. Hooray for the land of the free, the brave and middle class supported by Jumbo Jacks.
Farmers today in Kern County, California, the largest producing agricultural county in the country are losing crops and cash because there aren’t enough workers to handle its multi-billion dollar crop. Translation: There aren’t enough Mexicans.
In Texas, Arizona and California news reports are that construction companies such as house framers, roofers, plumbers, electricians and carpenters are turning away contracts because they don’t have enough workers to do the work. Fox News Channel Special Report (August 2) reports that the Dallas area has 50,000 fewer construction workers than last year when there was a shortage. The report said that Dallas building industry association people report that 70 percent of its members turn down work – not enough workers.
The Trump/Purdue/Cotton English-speaking immigrant will not work picking crops 12 hours-a-day, or nail roofing to roofs or clean toilets in hotels or motels.
President Trump knows how to solve the real problem of lack of workers and, of illegal aliens. He knows because he is a regular user of legal work visa/permits, perhaps the most regular user of legal work visas in the USA. Even as this is being read — President Trump’s Palm Beach resort Mar-A-Lago is applying for dozens of H-2B work visas for the coming winter season. President Trump says over and over that he can’t find enough Americans to work (November-May), thus he imports unskilled European workers.
The pure Cotton/Purdue proposal will never wind up on the President’s desk. It will either be killed or amended. If President Trump wants the merit system for legal immigration, he simply has to suggest an amendment that expands H-2B visa numbers to allow the three critical industries defined here to employ the people they need.
Will any immigration bill make it through Congress? It depends on what deal President Trump is willing to make, if he listens to staff like restrictionist Steve Miller and his friends at the Center for Immigration Studies and Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, nothing will pass. If he listens to thousands of farmers, hoteliers/restaurateurs and construction companies, a bill can pass.
President Trump, which shall it be?
Contreras is the Author of THE ARMENIAN LOBBY & U.S. FOREIGN POLICY (Berkeley Press 2017) and THE MEXICAN BORDER: IMMIGRATION, WAR AND A TRILLION DOLLARS IN TRADE (Floricanto Press 2016), he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate