One reason for the mass immigration into this country that is revolutionizing our economy, our political institutions and our culture is that it's very useful for failed or failing institutions that can't survive without lots of immigrants to take the place of Americans who have lost interest. Churches are one example: As American church attendance drops, church leaders rattle the tambourines for more immigration to fill their empty pews. But on the empty pew front, churches have nothing on labor unions.
Since 1977, when nearly 33 percent of all American workers were members of labor unions, membership has dropped to a piddling 13.5 percent of the labor force. If the trend continues—and there's every reason to think it will—the permanent bureaucracy that runs the unions will have to start learning how to make an honest living. We obviously can't allow that to happen, so therefore, instead of even pretending to represent the interests of the American worker anymore, Big Labor bureaucrats have now decided to represent foreign workers.
Last week the AFL-CIO, for the first time in the union's history, allowed its member unions to vote on whether to support an amnesty for illegal aliens, and with no small amount of hints from the top leadership, a sizeable majority of the 1,000 delegates of the 66 unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO voted in favor of it. [PDF version of AFL-CIO Executive Council Resolution 5 "A Nation of Immigrants" ]
President John Sweeney was positively bubbly about the outcome. "We are now a beacon of hope to millions of workers who've come to our country seeking a better life," he gushed, "And I want you to know you made me the proudest labor leader in the world by rewriting the AFL-CIO's policy on immigration." The reality is that there are more mundane reasons for Mr. Sweeney's ecstasy, as other union officials acknowledged.
"Organizing is our number one priority," said union spokesman Kathy Roeder, "so we're always looking for opportunities for people to join unions who don't have them. That's our number one reason for working with immigrants." As for the interests of the American workers her union is supposed to represent, "There's no feeling in the labor movement that immigrants take away American jobs."
Yes, well, maybe the labor movement should take a break from figuring out how its going to keep itself in gravy and do a little reading on the subject its supposed to be an expert on. Immigration expert Roy Beck has shown how low-wage, low-skill immigrants from Latin America have taken over jobs in poultry- processing in the MidSouth and meat-packing in the MidWest, and Harvard economist George Borjas has reached similar conclusions for California, to name only two of the economists who say that immigrants do take Americans' jobs.
As for the cliché of the Open Borders crowd that "immigrants take jobs Americans won't take," Harvard economist Christopher Jencks in a recent New York Review of Books article on immigration writes,
"Far from proving that immigrants have no impact on natives, the fact that American-born workers sometimes reject jobs that immigrants accept reinforces the claim that immigration has depressed wages for unskilled work."
Miss Roeder ought to find herself in the ranks of the unemployed for her dumb remark.
Speaking of the ranks of the unemployed, they happen to be growing—at the very moment when the Bush administration wants to revive talks with Mexico about an amnesty and the supposed guardians of the American working man are selling him over the Rio Grande. The most recent report from the Labor Department shows that unemployment in the United States has now reached 5.7 percent, the highest in six years, up from 4.9 percent in March.
Of course, the Open Borders crowd isn't worried. According to Open Borders high priestess Linda Chavez, they aren't really American jobs anyway. In a column of Oct. 2, Miss Chavez—who was President Bush's intended Labor Secretary before her own footsy with an illegal alien domestic servant came out—wrote that "The anti-immigration crowd has tried for years to convince us" that "Mexican and other Latin immigrants" are "taking 'American' jobs."
So even if they do take the jobs, you see, they're not "American" jobs. Whose jobs Miss Chavez thinks they are we don't know.
From churches that need people for their empty pews to unions that need members for their empty halls to both political parties that need voters for their empty platforms and tickets, virtually every group that's pushing for more immigration has its own interests up its sleeve.
That's why the 80 percent of the American public that wants less immigration can't look to the country's established institutions or the people who run them.
If we want less immigration, we need to get some new institutions and a lot more new leaders.
COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
December 10, 2001