WASHINGTON, June 6, 2014 — In 2000, “membership directors” at the United States Chamber of Commerce did not discuss legalization of illegal workers with existing or potential new members. The hot button issues were taxes and regulation. Amnesty was off the radar; it didn’t come into conversations concerning the Chamber’s lobbying efforts, either because businesspeople were knowingly employing illegals, or because they would have found the idea of encouraging people to hire illegals disreputable.
During the last eight years, the stigma on the topic has vanished. The Chamber unashamedly advocates open borders.
Re-structuring its priorities along these lines requires some rhetorical re-tooling. The sales pitch most in vogue at the Chamber is the contention that the more workers America imports, the more jobs are created and the more wages increase.
This is the Chamber’s version of the episode in Charles Schultz’s “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” in which Lucy tells Charlie Brown that he’s a dolt to believe that snow falls from the sky, when it fact it actually rises up from the ground. “After snow comes up, the wind blows it around so it looks like it’s coming down but actually it comes up out of the ground, like grass. It comes up, Charlie Brown, snow comes up!”
Lucy would be a good spokesperson for the USCOC’s proposal that amnesty and increased immigration will benefit workers and boost the economy.
If you’re going to say things that challenge the economic laws of gravity and common sense, you’ll need some academicians willing to construct your alternate universe out of demographic data points. Meet Giovanni Peri, of UC Davis, and co-authors Kevin Yang Shih, a grad student at UC Davis, and Chad Sparber at Colgate University.
These three conclude that wages for college- and non-college-educated native workers tracked positively with increases in immigration. They contend that a one-percent increase in the share of workers in STEM fields raised wages for college-educated natives by seven to eight percent, and wages of the non-college-educated natives by three to four percent.
Peri said the research bolsters the case for raising, or even removing, the caps on H-1B visas, the program that regulates how many high-skilled foreign workers employers can bring into the country. The Senate in its “Gang of Eight” bill, SB744, included a provision that would double the allowance of H-1B visas.
The current annual cap is 65,000 visas for first-time applicants and 20,000 for workers with advanced degrees. That could climb as high as 180,000 depending on economic conditions. So far, the House of Representatives is keeping this at arm’s length, despite the seductive allure that it holds for John Boehner and the GOP establishment.
The argument asserts that cities that saw the biggest influx of foreign-born workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the STEM professions — saw wages for the native population climb. “A lot of people have the idea there is a fixed number of jobs,” Peri says. “It’s completely turned around.” Immigrants can boost the productivity of the overall economy, he said, “because then the pie grows and there are more jobs for other people as well and there’s not a zero-sum trade-off between natives and immigrants.”
To reduce this proposition to its root misconception, the best way to pull ourselves out of the “jobless recovery” we find ourselves in would be to fling the doors wide open and invite in hundreds of millions of workers. We can put unemployed Americans back to work by hiring millions of foreign-born workers, and increase our wages to boot.
One of their colleagues at U.C. Davis is strongly in disagreement with their research conclusions. Professor Norm Matloff has made the claims of the USCOC, the Brookings Institute, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us, the target of his research in this area. Whereas the Chamber touts the misconception that there exists a shortage of STEM workers, Matloff and a host of other experts firmly oppose that conclusion.
Matloff says, “the H-1B work visa is fundamentally about cheap, de facto indentured labor. Furthermore, vast majority of H-1Bs, again including those hired from U.S. universities, are not doing work for which qualifed Americans are unavailable.” He notes that “employers accrue Type I wage savings by paying H-1Bs less than comparable Americans (U.S. citizens and permanent residents), while accruing Type II wage savings by hiring younger, thus cheaper, H-1Bs in lieu of older, thus more expensive (age 35+) Americans”.
The USCOC, which used to have a favorable reputation among conservatives, has exposed itself as an opportunistic huckster for the impulses of enormously wealthy people to stick it to the working and middle class in America. The Chamber will partner with anyone who will join in with their intense efforts to strong arm Congress into amnesty, which they refer to as “immigration reform”. So, the National Council of La Raza becomes a natural ally as does the National Immigration Forum, a George Soros sponsored open borders advocacy group.
In 2010, the Chamber collaborated with La Raza, SEIU, the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, MALDEF and the Southern Poverty Law Center (who classify conservatives as extremists and potential terrorists) in the case, “Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting”. In this case, the Chamber challenged Arizona’s law that provided the suspension and/or revocation of the business licenses of Arizona employers who knowingly or intentionally employ unauthorized aliens. In this case, the court held that:
“Federal law does not prevent Arizona from revoking the business licenses of state companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers, or from requiring employers in that state to use a federal electronic system to check that their workers are authorized to work in the United States.”
The Chamber has been bankrolling PACs that attack candidates who won’t bend on amnesty, and they are relentless about it. “We’re determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted,” Donohue said. “The Chamber will pull out all of the stops – through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics and partnerships with our friends in the unions, and faith-based organizations, and law enforcement groups and others to get this job done. And we brought in 600 people to one group, we brought in faith-based and folks from all sorts of social activities, you know, people, community leaders.”
Rush Limbaugh describes their headlong rush toward virtual open borders in these terms:
“Chamber of Commerce, very much pro-amnesty, very much pro-immigration. They’re really, really pushing it. I mean, it’s almost like the Chamber of Commerce has been infiltrated and taken over by a bunch of leftists. That doesn’t make any sense to me, either, folks. It’s been a rather quick evolution here. The Chamber used to not be oriented this way. They’ve been trending toward it, but it seems like it’s overnight.”
The Chamber’s posture towards eVerify is duplicitous and a sop to employers who now have illegals in their workforce. On one hand, as a consequence of the backlash to their suit against Arizona, they have adopted a seemingly pro-eVerify position. But not really. Senior V.P. of Immigration, Labor and Employee Benefits for the Chamber, Randel K. Johnson, claims that the Chamber supports eVerify for checking new hires, but significantly opposes it for the purposes of determining if an employer’s existing staff are legally working in this country (“reverification”):
“As you well know, the Chamber remains staunchly opposed to any E-Verify mandate that includes a requirement to reverify the entire current workforce. Reverification of the 143 million Americans currently working is a stumbling block to nearly every employer in United States and would overwhelm E-Verify in any phase-in of a mandatory system.”
The only reason USCOC even tentatively supports new hire verification, is because it was a compromise needed to provide cover for the Republicans who were involved in the passage of SB744. But eVerify must be used for confirmation of existing workers because as things stand now, illegals are squatting on at least 8 million jobs that Americans need.
The Chamber’s mission statement advises, “The U.S. Chamber is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.” Whatever the Chamber was at one time, there are four things it is not: It is not conservative, not dedicated to constitutional principles, not dedicated to free enterprise, and not dedicated to limited government.
As a business owner, if you are looking to affiliate with an organization that champions limits on excessive regulation, taxes, spending and shares your values on a legal workforce and free enterprise, you could do much better than the USCOC. The Heritage Foundation, whose stated mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense,” is worth taking a closer look at.