Bernie Sanders Guest Worker Blunder

Bernie Sanders made waves when he declared that open borders was a Koch brother idea designed to suppress prevailing wages among America’s working class.


“What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that.  I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?[1]

But his immigration platform does little to help America’s poor. Rather it would help other country’s poor by increasing legal services and prevailing wages for guest workers within the United States.

  • Authorize and substantially increase funding for the Legal Services Corporation to provide legal representation to guest workers who have been abused by their employers. Further, employers should be required to reimburse guest workers for housing, transportation expenses and workers’ compensation.
  • Substantially increase prevailing wages that employers are required to pay temporary guest workers. If there is a true labor shortage, employers should be offering higher, not lower wages.[2]

Sanders is fighting for better wages for other countries’ poor and disadvantaged within the U.S. instead of focusing on getting unemployed Americans the training they need to fill these jobs. Ending or limiting guest worker programs would open up more jobs for Americans. Employers will then have to offer wages that meet market demands (without the additional government intervention Sanders proposes).

America’s immigration policy should not take advantage of any foreign national, nor should it disadvantage any American. Sanders is right to address the former, but should be careful not to do so at the expense of the latter.




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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    People are having trouble finding a job anymore while too many immigrants are coming here working cheaper than Americans could earn a living at. We need way more jobs available before anymore immigrants are encouraged to come here. Too many jobs have been outsourced to let in more people. Hire jobless Americans if you need workers.

  2. avatar

    This is great and will really hopefully open the eyes of Americans the issue of Republicans gaining profit from illegal and guest worker programs!!! TRUE

    Then the issue of Democrats embracing illegals knowing that if they get to vote they will vote Democrat!!! TRUE

    This is why all Americans need to speak up and act or nothing will be done…..Hello both parties are actually for Illegals!!!

    Hard to believe but TRUE

    Get involved and speak up
    Be an American or leave ……..when you live here and work here and except benefits of being here U R N American

  3. avatar

    Guest workers, legal or illegal have always been about cheap labor = more profit. Sounds Republican to me.

    • avatar

      So, do you agree that the United States government should stop all legal and illegal immigration?

  4. avatar

    Upping the prevailing wage provision discourages the use of guest workers. It’s a backdoor way of killing guest worker programs. Guest worker programs (along with the nod and wink to hire illegally) is the Republican party’s Achilles heel on immigration.

    • avatar

      Wow, you are so wrong. Look at the history behind this. Democrats have always loved the illegals coming in because they are encouraged to vote Democrat – after all, look at all the freebies they get. More Democrat votes. Doesn’t matter if they are illegal – or dead!
      What has that person in the White House done for the illegals? This administration issued thousands of Guest Worker visas when a judge put a restraining order on them! Last I knew he wasn’t Republican.
      Upping the minimum wage will not benefit anyone. Merely cause an inflationary increase in products at a time when the economy is stagnant.

  5. avatar

    Those Youth Unemployment Numbers are Way Exaggerated

    They don’t count unemployed more than 6 months and if you’re working 2 part time jobs, they count this as two workers working, not one.

    Try 50-60% unemployed.