Service of Using Economic Arguments to Mask Bigotry

June 4th, 2018

Categories: Demographics, Economy, Immigration, Politicians, Politics, Work


I’ve got news for those who fear that immigrants will take jobs from Americans. Turns out there aren’t enough people in this country to handle the work that businesses need as it is. Unemployment stats on Friday were the lowest since 2000—3.8 percent.

That fact doesn’t faze some Republican lawmakers. They demanded “a vote on a bill that would lower legal—not illegal, but legal—immigration,” according to Gerald F. Seib. In his Wall Street Journal article, “An Immigration Debate Distinct From Economic Realities–There is a good case that America’s economy has never needed immigrant labor more than it does now,” he reported that 6.6 million unfilled job openings impact fisheries in Alaska, restaurants in New Hampshire, crab processors in Maryland and farmers. “For the first time in history,” he wrote, “there are enough openings to provide a job for every unemployed person in the country.”


There were 66,000 travel permits allotted for low-skilled foreign workers requesting H-2B visas in January yet the federal government received thousands more applications. Seib predicted that the feds might add 15,000 more–not nearly enough. “The search for more highly skilled workers is even more urgent. The NFIB [National Federation of Independent Business] says that 22% of small-business owners say finding qualified workers is their single most important business problem, more than those who cite taxes or regulations,” he wrote.

In “Summer is Here. Where are the Workers?” Ruth Simon, in the same paper, reported that last year Congress refused to renew visas for returning workers–each had to start the process from scratch. She wrote that landscaping and food processing businesses are as severely impacted as restaurants. The demand is so great that the government made a business’s “winning” workers the random choice of a lottery because they were 15,000 short six months ago.

Back to Sieb. He wrote that “Demographers think that in the next three decades, the share of Americans aged 65 and older will surpass the share of Americans aged 18 and younger,” and he concluded that even though we “can handle…and may actually need” more immigrants “the climate is more hostile toward immigrants and immigration than at any time in recent memory.”


Sieb attributed the 2016 campaign for moving a political party that generally favored immigration because it energized the American bloodstream to one that is “increasingly dominated by those with a distinctly darker view of immigration.” In addition to jacking up punitive laws against illegal aliens and refusing to offer permanent legal status to Dreamers, the conservative members’ bill would reduce the number of visas by 25 percent, to 260,000/year. The Cato Institute calculated that the reduction “would be closer to 40%, adding: ‘This would be the largest policy-driven reduction in legal immigration since the awful, racially motivated acts of the 1920s.’”

Immigration grinches posit that Americans’ wages should increase as a result though that doesn’t seem to be happening [take a look at last Thursday’s post, “Service of Hourly Work–No Bed of Roses,” as one example]. Seib attributes the true attitude “among many Americans that they are losing control of their country and its traditions—as in economic dislocation. The quest to control America’s borders has morphed into much broader sentiments.”

Stingy immigration quotas negatively impact small business. Would lawmakers take better notice if big business was affected? Immigrants have been absorbed here for decades. How best to allay economic fears of those blocking immigration today? Addressing the fear of loss of control is a bigger challenge: In addition to fighting with better education, any other ideas?

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8 Responses to “Service of Using Economic Arguments to Mask Bigotry”

  1. Martin Johnson Said:

    Martin wrote on Facebook: It comes from the xenophobic top and becomes the real “trickle down” effect. We have permission now to be anti immigration. From the leader we are rapidly becoming the embarrassment of the free world.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree.

    But for such a supposed brilliant businessman to condone a move that hurts the economy makes little sense. Restauranteurs who want to expand, can’t. Businesses must close early and/or be closed in high season on certain days. If fishermen’s catches can’t be processed, we don’t get to eat fish. And to dismiss all those potential tax payer workers and consumers as chickenfeed is a big mistake. I’ve not even begun to address the human side of it which hits home given that I’m first generation American–my dad was French.

  3. Protius Said:

    Sadly, I think you are right. Bigotry lies at the heart of the immigration squabble. Over 95% of my forebears were Caucasian Protestants who immigrated to this country from Northern Europe. The most recent to arrive here came across the Nova Scotia border in 1834, and her father was a British colonial administrator born in London. I lived in an area with a substantial black minority population, which lived in de facto segregated black neighborhoods, and I attended segregated schools until I was 11. The New England school and college I attended each had a token handful of black students, but almost the only other African Americans I met before I was 21 were domestic servants.

    Almost all my forebears were on the Union side and supported emancipation during the Civil War era, and the adults around me as I grew up studiously avoided saying anything which might type them as being bigoted. However, they demonstrated their hypocrisy by happily joining elitist social clubs and signing “restrictive” covenants about the neighborhoods in which they lived. They were largely Republicans, and, if asked, would surely deny being against integration, but they never really had any black friends. Equally well, they would further emphatically deny their hypocrisy on this subject, as do your politicians, by insisting, amongst other things, that restrictive immigration laws protected American workers.

    That is nonsense. If a Mexican worker in Dutchess County, NY, costs two thirds of what a native born worker would cost, it is also surely about money elsewhere. Farmers and fishermen offer low wages for backbreaking work. Assuming that an American worker would do this work at all, no sure thing, he would demand massively higher wages than migrant workers do, and domestic produce prices would soon become non-competitive with those asked for imported produce.

    I sense that we have all sorts of jobs open for workers of varying skill levels, but that our educational policies have wound up leaving us with a large population of semi-literate adults who have no idea of how to deal with the discipline of the workplace. Perhaps someone else has an idea as how to get that population to work for a living. I don’t.

    I suspect that descendants like me of those Northern European immigrants now represent less than 50% of our population. If not, given current demographic trends, they soon will. I suspect that, unless we divide the country in two, this is the last hurrah of the bigots.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That would be happy news, but there will always be bigots and people who need to trounce others so as to feel better about themselves or who must blame others for their poor choices or bad luck. And what easy targets: Foreigners who don’t know how we do things around here. It will just be a different demographic that denigrates newcomers.

    There was one point buried in Sieb’s article and in my post: “The search for more highly skilled workers is even more urgent. The NFIB [National Federation of Independent Business] says that 22% of small-business owners say finding qualified workers is their single most important business problem, more than those who cite taxes or regulations,” he wrote. It’s not just fruit pickers, landscape workers and busboys and girls needed.

    I’m a proud mongrel whose roots in this country are far newer than yours yet my early experience was similar in NYC where I was brought up. And the hypocrisy thrived well beyond my childhood. In Brooklyn Heights, some dozen years before I moved there from living abroad as an Air Force wife, a tiny public school in the neighborhood that had been all white became diversified when children were bussed in from other Brooklyn neighborhoods at the urging of some of the residents, I was told. And what did these residents do next? They founded a private school for their children to attend. Today those bussed in children, if they are still attending that school, no doubt represent a rainbow of countries which would be the only difference.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    If bigotry ever disappears, I’ll eat my hat. This idea of “loving everybody” is a shameful sham and benefits no one. Ban the Roseanne Show, and her sentiments will crop up somewhere else, and should, in the name of free speech. I don’t agree with her politics, but equally disagree with shutting her down.

    As for hiring foreigners, the argument has been raging ever since I can remember, and undoubtedly for thousands of years before. It’s sad that humanity refuses to grow up.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t know much about Roseanne but from what I’ve read, she’s expressed off the wall ideas for years and was a risky proposition from the start. According to “She promoted Pizzagate. She believes 9/11 was an inside job. She flags vaccine conspiracy theories. She called Israel a ‘Nazi state’ in 2009 and promoted a Holocaust-denying musician in 2013. Then she turned around and became a massive supporter of Israel (and a rabid opponent of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement).” I’ve also read she was difficult to work with and who knows if the network wasn’t looking for an excuse to get rid of her. But I also don’t see why they should condone a person who can’t control her foul mouth. It was a terrible shame for those who worked on her show for sure. They are caught without a gig when all the shows for the new TV year are in motion with jobs taken.

    Accepting foreigners and your reference to growing up is apt. It is little different from what happens to many kids who change schools and have a hard time being accepted at the new one. Kids can be cruel to the newbie. Same with the way citizens of a country or townspeople treat a foreigner or an out-of-towner.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Years back, I watched a couple of Roseanne episodes, and found them mildly amusing, but mostly dull. I like Goodman, but not enough to make me a regular. In earlier times, Roseanne was said to hold liberal views. These have reportedly morphed to pro-Trump.

    Not being PC, I could care less who she hires. In a free state, one is not hired or fired based on politics. People are being fired for increasingly ridiculous reasons, a path which leads directly to loss of rights. Hitler and Stalin spirits (assuming such exist) must be smiling.

    Years ago, the ACLU undoubtedly held its nose while supporting the rights of a group of Nazis to march in a parade. Repulsive as it sounds, it was the right thing to do.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wonder what the ACLU has to say about the most recent Supreme Court decision re. the wedding cake maker. Would they side with dissenters Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission or with the majority?

    RBG wrote: “When a couple contacts a bakery for a wedding cake, the product they are seeking is a cake celebrating their wedding—not a cake celebrating heterosexual weddings or same-sex weddings—and that is the service Craig and Mullins were denied.”

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