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Hearing Recap: Illegal Immigration Edition

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 13, 2023
Today, the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee held a hearing entitled “The Impact of Biden’s Open Border on the American Workforce.” 

The impact can be summarized in one word: disastrous.

President Biden has presided over the worst influx of illegal immigration in United States history, and the result has been the effective displacement of many in America’s working class. Over the course of the hearing, Committee Republicans held President Biden to account for turning his back on American workers and families.

Chairman Bob Good (R-VA) opened by taking aim at the material impact President Biden’s policies are having on blue-collar jobs. “Real wages for the working class have collapsed, thanks to the policies of the Biden administration,” stated Chairman Good. “Under Trump, blue collar real wages rose 5.6 percent. Under Biden, blue-collar real wages have fallen 2.1 percent.”

Inflation is one reason for collapsing real wages, but extensive research and data presented by today’s expert witness panel showed that the mass importation of cheap, illegal labor has also depressed earnings of America’s working class.

The hearing’s expert witness panel included Robert Law, Director of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration at America First Policy Institute; Dr. Steven Camarota, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies; and Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of American Action Forum.

In his opening testimony, Mr. Law highlighted the extent of Biden’s broken border policy. “The reason nearly every illegal alien at the border makes an asylum claim is because doing so makes them eligible for a work permit,” he said. Yet, “No more than 15 percent of the illegal aliens who make asylum claims at the southern border qualify for this humanitarian relief.”

The incentives are evident for the Mexican cartels to smuggle millions of illegal immigrants across the border. The results on the American workforce are evident as well.

“There are likely 9 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. workforce,” said Dr. Camarota. He continued, that while the cheap labor can lower the cost of goods, “There is no free lunch here. These benefits require some Americans, typically the poorest at the bottom end of the labor force, to lose out.”

Moving to questioning, Rep. Erin Houchin (R-IN) addressed the common retort from Democrats that illegal immigrants in the workforce are inconsequential because they do not compete for the same jobs as American workers. She asked directly of Dr. Camarota, “Can you respond to that claim?”

“Even if you were to look at the two dozen occupations where we think illegal immigrants are most concentrated, there are nearly six million U.S. born Americans in those same occupations,” rebuffed Dr. Camarota.

Along those same lines, Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO), referring to Democrats, exclaimed, “If you’re the champion of those people [the forgotten man] why in the hell would you flood the nation with competition to those individuals and drive down their wages?” 

Rep. Burlison has a point, and that point was echoed repeatedly over the course of the hearing. What is one immigration policy the Democrats have erected to protect our working class from wage depression and displacement? In an exchange started by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Mr. Law highlighted that “There is not a single deterrent policy of the Biden administration.” 

The enormous contradictions in Democrat rhetoric and policy were glaring, but until they were analyzed in terms other than economic, the answer as to why remained elusive.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) got to the heart of the contradiction by asking why but in sociological terms. “Why is it elites, corporate America, aren’t interested in working-class Americans who aren’t employed? What is their motivation?”

As Dr. Steven Camarota carefully explained, there are complex issues behind the lagging labor participation rate for the bottom rung of America’s socioeconomic ladder, and “[illegal immigration] is letting us ignore it.”

That’s the thing. Mass illegal immigration allows us to sidestep the bigger question, the issues tearing at America’s social fabric like drug abuse, welfare dependency, and criminality among those who have left the workforce.

Bottom Line: Democrat immigration policy puts Americans last, whereas Committee Republicans are fighting for American workers and their families. 
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