In an interview with the editorial board of the New York Times, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that the “exploitation” of illegal migrant labor leads to lower pay for Americans.
“Guest Worker Programs Bring In Hundreds of Thousands”
The editorial board asked Sanders about his immigration plan, including an “essential freeze [on] deportations, to decriminalize border crossings, and to provide a pathway to citizenship” for illegal migrants, but questioned whether he stood by his past comments on the problems with migrant labor.
Speaking to Lou Dobbs in 2013, Sanders objected to not only illegal, but legal migrant labor coming into the country.
“You have guest worker programs that will bring in hundreds of thousands of entry level workers… Is it really true that we can’t find American workers to do those jobs? Frankly, I don’t believe it,” Sanders argued. “When you go to ghettos in this country, when you go to inner cities, you have 30-40% unemployment. Do we really need hundreds of thousands of entry level workers competing against these kids?”
Sanders dismissed this as being “250 years ago,” and therefore irrelevant. He went on to list how his plan to give citizenship to illegal immigrants, that “children would not be thrown in cages” at the border, and that he would bring in comprehensive immigration reform. However, he did say that “undocumented” workers are being “exploited,” which is the real problem.
“If you don’t have any documentation, I could hire you for five bucks an hour and what recourse do you have? Not much,” Sanders said.
The board queried him as to whether he was admitting migrant labor hurts American workers.
“Sure it does,” Sanders said. “Right now, we have people who are being exploited. If you’re undocumented, and you’re being paid five bucks an hour, why am I going to pay her $12 an hour?”
He went on to clarify that it was only the “exploitation” that was the problem, not the fact that it was immigrants, claiming his policies would be able to stop this.
“I don’t know how big a deal it is, but if people are being exploited by their employers, of course it lowers wages in America,” he said.
Sanders is Right!
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I agree with Bernie Sanders! His 2013 comments on the Lou Dobbs show were absolutely spot on, and even though he claims “exploitation” is the problem today, he still recognizes the serious problem with the huge amount of illegal migrant labor that is available to use by corrupt businesspeople.
His solution to just let them all stay and work is, of course, stupid, but he goes much further than most other Democrats today by realizing that the problem exists in the first place. I just wish he had stuck to his guns and also talked about the problem that LEGAL entry-level migrant labor creates. If the Democrats actually cared about the working classes, they would crack down on this influx of people pouring across our borders, who are depreciating the wages of the poorest in this country. Now that would be a debate I would love to see.