In his Wall Street Journal opinion piece of August 29, entitled “The Latino Factor Will Save America’s Economy,” Sol Trujillo of the Latino Donor Collaborative begins with the fallacy that the Baby Boomer Generation “built the modern economic engine.”
As any Baby Boomer capable of self-reflection knows, the “engine” was mostly built by our parents and grandparents. We inherited a robust and resilient manufacturing economy and somewhere along the way to the information age, we financialized it and created an economy in which those with the expertise and capital benefit (the winners), but not everyone else (the losers).
Wall Street, the epicenter of this financialization, rewards the free and unbridled flow of capital and people across national borders that once restricted these flows for the purpose of protecting workers, our most vulnerable and national sovereignty. The Latinos Mr. Trujillo lionizes in his piece are entering into an economy that has been hollowed out by offshoring of manufacturing assets and financialization that has seen bad money chase out the good. All of this has led to decades of depressed wages, reduced minimal working conditions and ever greater financial insecurity on the part of America’s productive/working classes.
Mr. Trujillo then goes on to say that these builders of the modern economic engine are about to retire and that this presents the nation with a dilemma, a crisis, if you will, of a labor shortage. He postulates that the answer to this impending crisis is Latinos, and specifically, forgiveness for illegal immigration, and an even greater open border. For several reasons, nothing could be further from the truth.
Illegal immigration is wrong in every form. It costs taxpayers in education, healthcare, legal due diligence and benefits earmarked for our most vulnerable citizens. Mr. Trujillo champions 11 million illegal aliens (or more – we don’t really know the actual number) as the future of the American labor force – or new productive class if you will. He does not mention the millions of unemployed Black Americans descended from slaves, all but abandoned to malevolent market and social forces who now form a permanent underclass. If Mr. Trujillo doubts this, I would invite him to get in his car and drive down to Los Angeles’ Skid Row. There is a cost to all this abundant and cheap labor, and American citizens absorb those costs.
Mr. Trujillo’s claim that lower fertility is a problem for the workforce is false. With the expectation that artificial intelligence (AI) could potentially replace 40 percent of the jobs in America by 2050, the need for MORE workers in the jobs Mr. Trujillo mentions – like farming or teaching – is silly. With better AI on tractors or robots to pick fruit, fewer farm workers will be required, and fewer children being born translates to the need for fewer teachers.
Employment visa programs such as the H-1B have displaced millions of American white-collar professionals during the last 20 years. Much like lower skilled wage earners, they have experienced wage stagnation, low labor participation rates, a reduction in employee rights, and fewer women and minorities being provided opportunities. This is especially true in industries like “tech” which become far less diverse because the H-1B visa program is dominated by men from just one country.
Every American should have the opportunity to work. Until former inmates are rehabilitated and hired for lawful employment; until American wage earners are no longer pushed out of jobs by illegal immigrants and employment visa recipients; until every teenager who would rather earn money than waste time in front of a smartphone screen; until every college student who graduates with solid skills is not forced to take on more debt forever more education to outcompete F-1 visa holders who are squeezing them out of the labor market; and finally, until companies begin investing in their employees so as to ensure continuous and lifelong employment, until all that happens, illegal immigration and massive amounts of legal immigration will continue to hurt our country, economy, our workers and our children.