Biden, businesses, CCP Virus, coronavirus, COVID 19, guest workers, Im-Politic, immigrants, Immigration, Joe Biden, judges, labor shortages, lockdowns, recession, Reuters, Trump, unemployment, visas, wages, workers, Wuhan virus
So here I was about to give myself a day off from blogging today and spend most of it reading and then watching the big New Year’s Day college football games, but the news just keeps newsing. And I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t immediately seize on the opportunity to comment on today’s Reuters report titled “Trump extends immigration bans despite opposition from U.S. business groups.”
The piece wasn’t most remarkable for the kind of pro-globalist or Never Trump bias I often cover, or for the headline development. Everyone who’s followed the issue knows that the President has long favored and put into effect many measures aimed at curbing both legal and illegal immigration – and long before the CCP Virus and ensuing lockdowns-type government orders and consumer caution combined to create a genuine U.S. jobs depression.
Nor should anyone be especially struck by the observation that business groups are seeking to reopen American borders to green-card applicants (who will be seeking U.S. employment) and foreign guest workers (who enter the country in response to request from companies claiming labor shortages) even though, as the piece notes, 20 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment benefits.
No, what blew me away about the story were these two sentences:
“In October, a federal judge in California blocked Trump’s ban on foreign guest workers as it applied to hundreds of thousands of U.S. businesses that fought the policy in court.
“The judge found the ban would cause ‘irreparable harm’ to the businesses by interfering with their operations and leading them to lay off employees and close open positions.”
In other words, this judge supported allowing the number of workers overall available to American business to start growing again at a time when enormous numbers of domestic workers nationally have lost their jobs because enormous numbers of the businesses they worked for are being closed (many for good) by the aforementioned shutdown orders and consumer behavior changes.
Yet the judge’s stated reason for admitting these new (foreign) workers at a time when business are shedding enormous numbers of (domestic) workers is that enormous numbers of these same businesses would suffer “irreparable harm” – that is, harm for good – without the foreign workers. (See this post for an exceptionally intelligent discussion of the national business closure numbers, which so far are anything but from definitive.)
Even worse: The business lobbies that have opposed the Trump restrictions are the same groups that for months have condemned what they regard as overly sweeping lockdowns-type mandates for killing off enormous numbers of businesses, and threatening the survival of many others by sharply limiting the amount of customers they serve. And these business organizations insist that companies need more employees? Even though there’s every reason to believe that, at least through the winter, these shutdowns are much likelier to become tighter, not looser?
This isn’t to say that every business in this highly diverse economy during these highly difficult times is facing the same issues or dealing with the same labor market conditions. In fact, there can’t be any reasonable doubt that some companies are experiencing troubles finding the workers they need. Nor can there be any reasonable doubt that pandemic-related travel curbs are complicating their efforts to attract the necessary employees from other parts of the country, even if they raised wages strongly – the response identified by standard economic textbooks for ending labor shortages (even though this wage effect is overwhelmingly ignored by economists who use the same textbooks to support lenient immigration policies).
But how would new foreign workers solve this problem? They’d be subject to the same travel restrictions. And even if employers were willing to pay to bring them safely to their facilities, why couldn’t they extend the same services to any qualified domestic workers they could identify – if they bothered to look for them?
As for other businesses, chances are they favor reopening the immigration sluice gates now during a CCP Virus-induced economic slump for the same reason they favored it in normal times: They simply want to pump up the U.S. labor supply, and thereby drive down the price that labor can command.
Apparent President-elect Joe Biden ran as a champion of American workers. But he’s also taken many strongly pro-Open Borders positions. According to Reuters, although the Trump bans are “presidential proclamations that could be swiftly undone” and Biden has criticized them, the former Vice President “has not yet said whether he would immediately reverse them.”
But if he – not to mention the judge and the business groups – were really concerned about business survival, they’d all focus more on rolling back unjustified lockdown measures and securing more federal aid for struggling enterprises rather than delivering yet another immigration-related slap in the face to an already historically hammered domestic workforce.