Beware: Universities, Big Biz Endorse Amnesty

Once again, the big guys, those with money, power and influence, are ganging up on the little guys, Americans struggling in the neverending pandemic shutdown to earn a sustenance-level income.

As is too frequently the case, immigration, and specifically President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, is the focal point of the ongoing lopsided battle of the elite versus the working classes. At the Feb. 19 New England Business Immigration Summit (NEBIS), Harvard’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, along with biotech executives and other higher education leaders gathered virtually to urge Congress to pass the amnesty legislation that Biden promised as a candidate.

The group urged Congress to grant citizenship to illegal aliens as well as to deferred action for childhood arrivals and temporary protected status recipients. Conference participants also want the federal government to issue more employment-based visas to overseas workers which President Trump paused because of COVID-19 concerns (still valid), and to restore refugee levels to the pre-Trump totals of 100,000 or more annually.

David Greene, Maine’s Colby College president, said that only an immediate immigrant infusion can save New England. Greene’s statement is an insult to unemployed and underemployed New Englanders. For his part, Bacow wants more opportunities for international students to remain in the U.S. for employment, a consequence that, if realized, would come at the expense of U.S. college graduates.

Whenever big names like NEBIS smooth talkers get together openly to advocate for more legally present immigrants, an age-old ploy that dates back at least to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, their objective is to convey and sway the public so that when so many prominent, successful people agree on a single government policy, in this case amnesty, they must be right. After all, an elitist “summit” has rendered its pro-amnesty verdict – case closed!

In truth, immigration expansionist advocates are misguided, and if their encouragement to Congress succeeds, millions of new, lifetime authorized workers will join the pandemic-crippled, automation-driven economy. To begin with, no one knows the size of the illegal immigrant population that Biden has vowed to reward with amnesty. Former Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen admitted on national television that DHS is clueless about whether there are 11 million or 30 million illegal aliens in the U.S. If Nielsen doesn’t know, then nobody does. Even the lowest estimate, 11 million, plus DACAs, TPS and more employment visas would mean that the labor market will be flooded with a minimum of 12 million workers who will provide the cheap labor that employers covet.

At NEBIS, David Barber whose family founded Barber Foods, a Maine-based food company, insisted that Maine “doesn’t have enough people to fill their jobs.” In a 2017 $4.2 billion transaction, Tyson Foods acquired Barber Foods’ parent company. Barber’s claim about not enough Mainers to fill jobs is false.

A few years ago, during a similar worker shortage allegation, the Bangor Daily News published a story titled “Amid Foreign Worker Shortage, Bar Harbor Businesses Turn to Local Workers.” Readers reacted with vehemence. They concluded that “after crying for years” about how Maine businesses will fail without the foreign workers used for years to hold down wages, employers now admit that they’ll need to hire locals. Employers should offer higher wages to their neighbors – the traditional solution to filling jobs – before hiring from abroad.

Universities are, like private-sector employers, money-driven. International students who attend public universities pay out-of-state tuition fees that greatly exceed in-state tuition. The nearly 1 million foreign-born students, 52 percent Indian and Chinese, enrolled in public colleges contribute to the financial well-being of those institutions. On average, annual out-of-state tuition costs $15,000 more, a gap that grows wider every year.

Historically, an international student who entered the U.S. on an F-1 student visa would return home after graduation. Today, however, the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows science, technology, engineering and math students to gain employment in well-paid, white-collar jobs for periods up to three years following graduation. DHS estimates that more than 200,000 F-1 visa holders, about 20 percent of the international student enrollment, are working with OPT authorization. Biden’s amnesty proposes automatically granting a Green Card to every STEM graduate.

Follow the money trail, the old saw, applies to immigration advocacy. Proponents want cheap labor and higher profits, even if those goals hurt Americans. Biden’s amnesty, examined closely, offers nothing to improve Americans’ lives, but is from its first page to the 353rd deliberately calculated to harm.