The Myth of a Low Skill Worker Shortage

The Myth of a Low Skill Worker Shortage

“The ‘Gang of Eight’ senators working on comprehensive immigration reform (including Arizona’s John McCain and Jeff Flake) have reportedly hit a snag over a guest-worker program for the future. That’s not surprising. The politics of a guest-worker program are difficult enough. The policy specifics are mind-numbing. Once you wander into that snake pit, it’s difficult to find a way out,” Robert Robb says in the Arizona Republic.

“And it’s all based on a false premise perpetuated by the business community: that the country has an ongoing need for large numbers of low-skilled imported workers. And that, in turn, is based on the false premise that illegal immigrants are doing work that legal workers won’t. Except for in agriculture, that’s not true.”

Illegal Alien Climbs Over Fence in Front of Schumer, McCain During Their Border Visit

“John McCain, on a visit to the border town of Nogales, Ariz. with colleagues Chuck Schumer, Michael Bennet and Jeff Flake, bore witness, firsthand, to one of the challenges Congress will face as it attempts to craft immigration legislation: securing the border,” National Review says. “Standing at the country’s Southern border, McCain tweeted: “Just witnessed a woman successfully climb an 18-ft bollard fence a few yards from us in #Nogales”

Wage Fight Over Guest Worker Pay

“The big fight inside the immigration reform talks right now is, at first glance, a little strange. The AFL-CIO wants temporary foreign workers to be paid significantly more than their average native-born counterparts. The Chamber of Commerce wants to be able to pay them less. Why?” asks the Washington Post.

“The dispute is over whether businesses should have to pay a premium to hire foreign workers through a newly created guest-worker program and, if so, what that premium should be. Business wants to be able to pay foreign workers the same as native-born workers, with the federal minimum wage as a floor, reports the LA Times.”

“Union officials, by contrast, have proposed a tiered system that would ask employers to pay anywhere between 20 percent and 70 percent more to hire foreign workers, which includes both wage hikes and fees, TPM reports. ‘Bringing in workers below median by definition lowers median wages for everyone,’ says Jeff Hauser, an AFL-CIO spokesman who argues that the higher wages will benefit both native- and foreign-born workers. ‘The greatest problem with the economy for more than a generation has been declining rather than raising wages.'”

Former Sen. Simpson: Guest Worker Plans “Exploitation Deluxe”

“The bipartisan Gang of Eight senators hammering out immigration reform got through some dicey moments and was looking to finish its work. Until last week, that is, when they ran into the question of what to do about workers coming to the U.S. temporarily to fill jobs that most Americans are unwilling to do,” Bloomberg News says.

“To solve the impasse, Democrats urged a compromise last week that would apply existing language governing high-skills visas to low-skilled workers. Under this proposal, foreign workers could be employed in the U.S. only when it ‘will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly situated workers in the United States.'”

“Sounds benign enough. Who wants to adversely affect ‘wages and working conditions’ of American workers? Employers, that’s who. Former Republican Senator Alan K. Simpson, the engine behind the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration overhaul in 1986, said as much back then. To get his legislation passed, he included a guest-worker provision. Simpson said at the time that it wasn’t ‘survival but greed’ that drove agribusiness to demand more guest workers.”

About Author


Dan is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s President after joining the organization in 1982. He has testified more than 50 times before Congress, and been cited in the media as "America's best-known immigration reformer." Dan has appeared on virtually every significant TV and radio news/talk program in America and, in addition to being a contributing editor to, has contributed commentaries to a vast number of print media outlets.


  1. avatar

    A local farmer in our town along with other farmers here went to Nogales a few months ago to meet with a group of Mexicans to sign them up to pick crops in Eastern WA. None of the 11 million illegals here wanted to work on the farms. So now we have more on their way to our country. I am tired of hearing they only want to do the work others won’t do.

    • avatar
      John WInthrop on

      How do you know none of the 11 illegal wanted to work in the farms?……interesting…………………I got a job for an IT classmate to work in a store for 9 dollars an hour………………the guy as born and raise here……….LAZY…..never took the job instead he relaxes at home collecting unemployment THAT means as per your logic all Americans are ;lazy?

    • avatar

      so true my american kids cant get health insurance my income is limited illegals in my state get everything
      all i want to know what about AMERICAN KIDS BORN HERE

  2. avatar

    The topic of illegal immigration needs to include outsourcing and insourcing. I have friends who have advanced degrees from top US colleges who have lost their jobs due to outsourcing. Pressure needs to be put on large corporations, especially in the high tech sector. Why are the CEO’s of these companies insisting that the US needs to import high skilled foreign workers – when there is an abundance of skilled US high tech workers? Why is Steve Jobs still regarded as an American hero when his products were made in China under brutal working conditions? What happened to the strong union leadership in this country?

    Illegal immigration and outsourcing are not only related to picking lettuce, gardening, or working in the back of restaurants. Any job involving a computer (which is the majority of all jobs today) can be outsourced. Today, Americans cannot work at fast food places because the salaries are too low (You can feed a family on $10 dollars per hour?). They can’t work in the construction, gardening, general handyman trades, etc. because illegals have taken these jobs and in the process devalued them- not just via low salaries but also quality of work, and craftsmanship.

    They can’t work as telemarketers or customer service reps since these jobs are now in India, Mexico, or the Philippines – at a fraction of the salary. They can’t work in the high tech sector because jobs are being both outsourced as well as insourced (not everyone can be the founder of Facebook).

    When politicians speak about “the jobs” – they mean low paying jobs with no benefits or pensions. The issue is not just “jobs” – there is always a Help Wanted sign at Wal-Mart or Burger King. It’s about salaries, benefits, and respect. Yet, due to cowardly politicians, big business lobbyists, weak union leadership, and other key factors – our future looks bleak.

    I think that changing Congress is our only way out of this. Regular people in regular towns and cities across the country running campaigns focused on one issue and one issue only: The protection of the American worker.

    Let’s get to it guys.

    • avatar
      John WInthrop on

      Steve Jobs is no American Hero………………………he was a successful business man with a vision of technology no big tech corp had and the ability to have created the most Wealth so far…………. definitely an achievement………………………………you have a point about not being accountable when their majority of their employees are oversees and treated in an inhuman manner………..last I heard there are more suicides in China in Apple’s Foxconn contracting company than what the media lets us know………….

      Now to the issue a part of what you bring up is a part of CIR……………………..a very complex matter by the way………then I can say the politics and ugliness of the corporations………….making new professionals dumb and cutting creativity and innovation which at least Google inspires in its employees but Apple is falling behind…..etc etc

  3. avatar

    This can leave little doubt about the position of both parties. First they give us a bunch of free trade deals to ship US jobs overseas. Now not only do that want to hand out amnesty, but they want to create another guest worker program – like we need another one. I think everyone of these idiots should be charged with treason against American. They sure as hell don’t care about the middle class American worker. Here is the true reason why both of these moronic parties want amnesty: The Democrats want a new voter base to keep them in office. The Republicans want slave labor for their corporate masters. And on top of all that, they are letting the Chamber of Commerce decide what to pay these illegal’s (and of course everyone else will have to take that wage otherwise the company will just hire that illegal alien who is waiting 10 years for that amnesty to take full effect. Our government has become so corrupt that now they want to control wages rather than let the free market decide the wages. The only people who benefit from this are the people who want low wages and high poverty. I guarantee once these illegals have access to food stamps, SSI, and other public benefits you can say goodbye to American as you know it. The states will begin falling like dominos into bankruptcy.

  4. avatar

    With what our colleges and universities are turning out I am confident that we have an overabundance of unskilled low wage workers right here at home .

    • avatar
      John Winthrop on

      There are NO FAIRY TALES…..SWE……….I believe last I saw on TV the congress’s meeting regarding the temporary workers………………….out of approx 1.3M or so only 30% were legal………….NOW regardless on how this came to be……it is clear the need to at least increase those working permit by 66%………………….meaning