Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Politicians Disdain Manual Labor as Demand for Unskilled Workers Increases

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

It’s clear from their immigration proposal that certain Republicans do not appreciate the people who bring fresh food to your table, or care for the elderly at nursing homes, or make our offices clean so we can work in comfort.

With the typical elitist vision, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) launched an immigration proposal called the RAISE Act more than a week ago. The act rejects family reunification to favor the immigration of “qualified people” and does not propose solutions to legalize the millions of undocumented immigrants contributing to the U.S. economy.

This move comes despite the fact that the agriculture, service, hospitality and other industries that depend on unskilled labor are experiencing an increasing demand for workers.

But we already know that right-wing politicians and the Trump administration do not read or understand statistics and ignore the importance of workers who perform the most physically demanding tasks.

As this happens, Trump’s businesses continue to call for the importation of unskilled labor, revealing another example of their hypocrisy.

Among the individuals who helped write the RAISE Act is presidential adviser Stephen Miller, a person of dubious intellectual credentials who constantly interweaves racism and white supremacist comments and concepts into his presentations.

The RAISE legislative proposal would, among other things:

  • Cut the number of legal immigrants and refugees, and end the “visa lottery.”
  • Favor a system of immigration based on “merits” such as speaking English, the ability of applicants to support themselves, and their employability in jobs that “contribute to the economy.” This act opposes family reunification programs.

The New York Times writes that the RAISE Act scorns jobs that are in fact indispensable for the growth of the American economy. It uses statistical data from the Pew Research Center to prove it.

The article states that eight of the 15 occupations that will experience the most demand in the next few years do not even require a high school education. Unskilled workers do not depress the economy but, with their work, help increase consumption and demand for goods and services, strengthening economic growth.

Both documented and undocumented immigrants perform a significant percentage of these unskilled jobs (up to 26 percent for undocumented and 20 percent for legal immigrant workers in agriculture, for example). Follow this link to see statistics.

Immigrants who work unskilled jobs allow citizens – even those without much education – to move up the work ladder and access jobs that are more specialized and in which speaking English allows them to interact with clients.

The good news is that the RAISE Act has no chance to muster the necessary votes in Congress, and lately congresspeople are slowly limiting Trump’s power by signing laws to prevent certain actions. This internal power struggle may lead to a window of opportunity for true bipartisan immigration reform if the stars align themselves and certain politicians begin to think and act on their legacy.

As always, Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund presents comments on what happens in immigration. Follow us on social media!