During a June 24 press conference, President Joe Biden suggested that the solution to complaints from certain businesses about a supposed labor shortage is simple: paying workers more. The president said: “I remember you were asking me … ‘Guess what? Employers can’t find workers.’ I said, ‘Pay them more!’” He added, “this is an employees’ bargaining chip now. What’s happening? They’re going to have to compete and start playing [sic! – paying] hard-working people a decent wage.”
Of course, the president has a point. FAIR has long been arguing – in response to constant complaints from this or that business lobby about supposed “labor shortages” and “lazy Americans” unwilling to do” jobs only immigrants will do” – that they will find willing American workers if they offer higher wages, rather than importing cheaper foreign labor.
Admittedly, some businesses will find it harder to immediately hike wages more than others. Keep in mind that small businesses and certain sectors suffered significant economic damage during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, while billionaires and large corporations reaped windfall profits. And, given our rapidly growing national debt, enhanced unemployment benefits – on which the left is relying as a “bargaining chip” to raise wages – simply can’t go on forever.
But all those considerations aside, the chief executive is also missing an even bigger point: that his support for mass immigration and de facto open borders are at odds with his stated commitment to raising Americans’ wages.
After all, Joe Biden – along with Kamala Harris – has unleashed an illegal migration crisis of epic proportions at our southwestern border by overturning his predecessor’s policies. And, rather than doing anything substantive to fix the border crisis and stem the rush into the U.S., the Biden-Harris administration has been largely pouring fuel on the fire. The result is that hundreds of thousands of new unauthorized migrants have reinforced the already existing illegal alien presence in the U.S. labor market, thereby putting additional downward pressure on wages by competing with low-income working-class Americans.
On the legal immigration front, Joe Biden is also not helping middle-class professionals. For example, three months ago Biden allowed Trump’s guestworker pause to expire, thereby giving employers that rely heavily on H-1Bs and other foreign workers less incentive to hire Americans or raise their wages.
In fact, the mass importation of cheap foreign labor puts American employers who want to do the right thing – by hiring Americans and paying them decent wages – at a competitive disadvantage with unscrupulous ones who care only about reducing labor costs.
Joe Biden always loved to play the man of the people and the defender of the workers, but his immigration policies say otherwise. The president either fails to understand, or simply does not care that wage increases and worker bargaining power require a tight labor market, which is undermined by mass immigration, both legal and illegal.