Monday, November 17, 2014

Obama's Amnesty Program

(* Below is a short clip at YouTube from Saturday Night Live where Mitch McConnell warns President Obama about his planned executive action on immigration. But when Obama asks whether the GOP has a plan, McConnell insists that the Republicans will pass immigration reform.)

Can the GOP pass a better and more suitable immigration bill? They're talking about building bigger and better high-tech fences (but only along the southern border). How will this be paid for? By cutting food stamps for the poor?

The bright light in Obama's amnesty program might be if we better used e-verify to bring more workers out of the shadows in the labor market — because employers won't be able to use the threat of deportation to depress wages and engage in wage theft by using "independent contractors".

And if "undocumented workers" became "documented", maybe real unemployment numbers could be better analyzed (after bringing all these workers out of the "shadow economy").

These workers might also tend to be Democratic and pro-union as well, and might help organize for better wages — thereby putting upward pressure on everyone's wages overall.

This is only referencing CURRENT non-visa workers, as the guestworker visa programs should be eliminated until the labor market improves (as employers abuse these programs to undercut domestic wages with their false claims of "lacking skills"). H-1B visa workers taking domestic tech jobs should be abolished completely.

As far as farm workers (or other jobs that "Americans don't want to do"), this might also raise their wages as well, and might drive up the cost of food or other services (like the guys that do your landscaping, or the women that clean your homes or watch your kids).

If immigration is down and deportations are up, this amnesty program might work to some degree if we better secure our borders (and ports) and better enforce current immigration laws by punishing employers that illegally use these workers for jobs (e.g. construction, etc.) that can't be offshored to low-wage countries.

The current labor market is over-saturated for many reasons, such as: 1) employers making current workers do more 2) computers, automation and robotics 3) offshoring. A flood of "new labor" might not materialize if they are already working under the table. But yes, NEW guestworker visas should be stopped dead in its tracks until we have REAL full employment and workers are paid better wages.

Also (as an aside) if these workers were permitted to get a driver's license, maybe more of them could purchase auto insurance, and maybe bring down insurance rates. And if they were "legally" employed with valid Social Security numbers, more taxes might also be collected.

This does not even touch on the "humanitarian" or "moral" aspects of splitting families apart — the "Dreamers", those who came here as children, who might only speak English, have already fully integrated in the country as ordinary Americans (many times, as role citizens), have gone to college, and have served in our military. So how does this country tell them all to “go home” when they believe they are already home?

Diane Guerrero (pictured below) is the Colombian-American actress best known for the role of Maritza Ramos on the Netflix web series Orange is the New Black. She grew up in Boston and remained there after the rest of her family was deported to Colombia when she was only 14 years old. Guerrero went on CNN tonight to recall her parents' deportation (Story and Video)

Diane Guerrero

(* Let's just hope the Republicans don't shut down our government in their effort to thwart Obama's amnesty plan.)


  1. Executive Amnesty Case Undermined from Least Likely Source (Obama himself)

  2. Maybe someone can better explain this to me: From what I gather from this recent post at Bloomberg, the size of a country's GDP has a minimum effect on "median per capita income" (the average person's standard of living), but it's important for winning wars.

    Noah Smith writes: "We didn’t always out-fight our enemies in World War II, but we always out-produced them ... The growing might of illiberal China is yet one more reason the U.S. should maintain a steady rate of population growth via immigration."

    So let me understand: His argument for flooding the labor market with more workers for lower pay (reducing everyone's wages in the process) is better (even if it means lowering our standard of living), so long as we can out-produce our economic competitors in the event that we might go to war with them?

  3. Obama Moves To Protect Millions From Deportation

    The new policies broaden opportunities for high-skilled workers and could lead to further changes in how visas are distributed...About 4.1 million will likely be eligible for a new policy that allows undocumented parents of U.S. citizen and legal permanent children to stay in the country and work legally, if they have been in the U.S. for five years or more and pass a background check...Undocumented immigrants granted deferred action, including under DACA [for "Dreamers"], can receive work authorization if they demonstrate "an economic necessity for employment." They will be given Social Security numbers and required to pay taxes, but will not be eligible for Obamacare subsidies or most other government benefits.

  4. UPDATE: Economic Policy Institute:

    President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Will Improve the Wages and Working Conditions of Unauthorized Immigrants and U.S.-Born Workers Alike

    According to a landmark study and survey of thousands of workers, 37 percent of unauthorized immigrant workers were the victims of minimum wage law violations at the hands of their employers (meaning they were not paid the legally required minimum wage). A whopping 84 percent who worked full time were not paid for overtime, i.e., the legally required time-and-a-half rate for the hours they worked in a week beyond 40 hours.

    The unauthorized immigrants who qualify for Obama’s new, expanded deferred action and work authorization will, for the first time, have the same legal protections as those protected under DACA, and where they’ll count most is in the workplace. Those who qualify will be able to work legally and increase their earnings, either with a better-paying job or by demanding they be paid the minimum wage and for overtime. If their employer fails to comply, the newly-authorized workers will be empowered to complain to authorities without fear of employer retaliation or deportation. The workers would also be able to access the court system in order to compel an employer to pay the amount they’re owed.

    According to the aforementioned study on low-wage workers, U.S.-born workers also suffer disastrously high rates of minimum wage and overtime violations. 15.6 percent of low-wage-earning U.S.-born workers experienced minimum wage violations and 68.2 percent weren’t paid properly for their overtime hours. Those numbers suggest that most low-wage workers in the country are being exploited regardless of their legal status, and the total amounts lost to wage theft are truly staggering. But the bargaining power of U.S.-born workers competing in the low-wage labor market is especially undercut because the millions of unauthorized workers cannot safely complain about workplace violations or file a lawsuit to enforce the law. When the immigrants’ wages are unfairly held down, so are the wages of U.S. workers competing for the same jobs and hours.

    Even after reforms are implemented and millions of workers come out of the shadows and begin exercising their rights, there will still be far too many exploitable immigrants and Americans in the labor market. That still needs to be addressed, but the more workers who have rights and are paid higher wages, the better.

  5. Diane Guerrero's Immigration Story on MSNBC

  6. It should be said we need to act as Humans here in America and stop demonizing the Hispanics as the only "illegals" (and all the bullshit about securing our border w/Mexico) because illegal immigrants come in from the ports and fly in on visas and never return. Of the estimated illegal immigrants here in the USA, 40% are NOT Hispanics. (they are also Asians, Caribbean's, Irish, Polish, etc.)

    The rich and famous in the U.S. just want to pay as little as possible to care for their children, mow lawns and landscape for their mansions, clean their villas and estates, to be maids and cooks, and hire them to pick our fruits and farm our lands -- making these "illegals" just low-paid slaves. Just as the rich and famous corporations pay collie wages to workers in third world countries, then bring back their products to sell here for a 200% mark up.

    I am pissed at the major TV networks for NOT broadcasting Obamas speech about his executive order; in contrast, they never missed broadcasting Bush.

    For some sick reason, this country has to always find a particular ethnic group to beat up and blame for everything. They did it to the Chinese immigrants who helped build our railroads. They did it to the Italians and the Irish who slaved in our factories (along with their children). And need I state what continues to happen to African Americans?

    Scape goats, mixed with fear tactics, keep the GOP a living party in this country. I hope to see all these racists pay the consequences of their actions. We are all immigrants or asestors of immigrants that make this country great (except for native American Indians, and they really got the shaft!)

    Enough said,

    Constance Kaplan (a "99er")