The Myth of Big Business and Immigrant Labor

The idea that big business promotes illegal immigration so it can profit from cheap labor has been widely disseminated by the popular news media. That this is a myth, and is not founded in solid economic or political reality, is easy to show. 

First, look at the history of cheap labor in the U.S. Cheap labor was desired in the late 19th and early 20th centuries not because many jobs did not require a high level of skill but because people didn’t have jobs at all. They lived on farms. The best proof of this is the fact that until about 1910, 90% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, on farms. Now the great majority of Americans live in the large metropolitan areas of the nation.   

The idea that America needs illegal immigrants because there is a shortage of laborers willing to work at picking lettuce and tomatoes, backbreaking labor that no one else would otherwise do, is nonsense. The sanctuary cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York do not contain a single acre of lettuce or tomato fields, In fact, in these big sanctuary cities farming is banned, yet these big non-agricultural cities were the creators of official sanctuary policies.

If cheap migrant agricultural labor were needed, the Federal government would never have discontinued the agricultural guest worker program, the Bracero program. That program was first started in 1942 when migrant labor was genuinely needed during WW II. 

The lack of a guest worker program forces those who truly want seasonal work to break Federal immigration law and other Federal laws. When they attempt to cross the border, rather than crossing in a guest worker program for free, they must pay coyotes thousands of dollars or, more likely, they have to agree to smuggle illegal drugs for the violent cartels. Young illegal immigrant women cannot work as legal seasonal workers and they are too often the victims of violent rape and abuse, facts that are ignored by the pro-Democrat news media. 

This flatly contradicts, and permanently defeats, the argument that big agricultural business needs illegal immigrants for cheap seasonal labor. If big corporate agriculture had its choice, there would be a robust guest worker program enabling temporary workers to cross the border with valid guest worker IDs as they did from the 1940s to 1960s. 

If big agricultural corporations always needed cheap labor, and they are powerful lobbyists in Washington, it’s difficult to explain how they allowed the Bracero program to be discontinued by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Historically, the evidence shows that agricultural lobbyists gave campaign donations to Democrats in order to promote the Bracero program. The real reason the Bracero program was cancelled was that LBJ was a Democrat, and Democrats controlled all the big cities of the nation in the 1960s. All these big cities started to lose population to the suburbs and other states after 1950. 

If big corporate agriculture had so much power to control immigration policy, the Bracero program would still be in effect today. It is difficult to understand how the U.S. does not have a viable guest worker program. The greatest need for seasonal laborers is in the least populated areas of the states, areas where large numbers of teenagers are not available for seasonal work. Digital IDs would make it very easy for big agriculture to “exploit” cheap seasonal migrant labor, yet Democrats fight the idea of a new guest worker program. 

The labor situation of the big cities also argues against the idea that big business needs illegal immigrants for cheap labor. There is a surplus of citizen cheap laborers, they are the teenagers and other unemployed people. As the nation’s number of illegal immigrants has grown the number of unemployed people has also grown. One would predict that if illegal immigrants were needed due to a demand for cheap labor, that the explosion of cheap labor would have wiped out the need for cheap labor and more would be in the labor force. 

But the opposite has happened. Those who did cheap labor jobs in the past, particularly citizen teenagers, are now unemployed at the highest rate since WW II. Since these teenagers were already available as cheap labor, illegal immigrants weren’t needed. That also does not make sense, it doesn’t support the notion that big business is solely responsible for illegal immigration. 

Also, the U.S. now has 94 million people who are not in the labor force and labor force participation for all age groups is the lowest it’s been since 1975. This is all proved by Department of Labor factsheets. If the U.S. had a great need for cheap labor, that implies a labor shortage and a high labor participation rate, and the teenage labor force would not be as unemployed as it is now. This proves there is no need for additional cheap labor. There was no need for cheap labor in Chicago in 1985 when Mayor Harold Washington issued his Executive Order to make Chicago a sanctuary city.

Businesses do not have the authority to issue executive orders in cities, only mayors do. Also, businesses do not have the authority to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants as many states have now done. Big business did not pass a state law, as Illinois did, to make the matrical consular card a valid form of ID in the state. 

This begs the question, if big agriculture is hurt by the ban on guest workers, and the nation is not lacking in cheap labor, why the illegal immigrants are brought to big cities. The answer lies in an analysis of the creation of sanctuary cities, the policies that enabled this creation, who the actors were who created these policies, and what they gained from it. 

Briefly, the sanctuary cities were created to restore population to the big cities of the nation that are dominated by the Democrat Party. All the major players were, and still are, Democrats. President Obama’s most outrageous flouting of the Constitution was an act that assisted illegal immigration; his executive order regarding deportations. Obama also sent his attorney general to interfere with Arizona’s SB 1070 which intended to enforce Federal immigration law. At every step, at every stage in the growth of illegal immigration, Democrats have been there to aggressively flout Federal laws, and issue new executive orders to promote illegal immigration. 

None of these acts were done by big business, nor did big business have the authority to prosecute these acts. Only government did this. To see cheap labor as a benefit to big business is to overlook the causes of illegal immigration, and the benefits to politicians. To say that big business benefits from illegal immigration requires one to overlook the great public costs; the higher property taxes, unemployment, and national debt. These drive down disposable incomes and hurt big business sales.  

The idea that big business promotes illegal immigration so it can profit from cheap labor has been widely disseminated by the popular news media. That this is a myth, and is not founded in solid economic or political reality, is easy to show. 

First, look at the history of cheap labor in the U.S. Cheap labor was desired in the late 19th and early 20th centuries not because many jobs did not require a high level of skill but because people didn’t have jobs at all. They lived on farms. The best proof of this is the fact that until about 1910, 90% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, on farms. Now the great majority of Americans live in the large metropolitan areas of the nation.   

The idea that America needs illegal immigrants because there is a shortage of laborers willing to work at picking lettuce and tomatoes, backbreaking labor that no one else would otherwise do, is nonsense. The sanctuary cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York do not contain a single acre of lettuce or tomato fields, In fact, in these big sanctuary cities farming is banned, yet these big non-agricultural cities were the creators of official sanctuary policies.

If cheap migrant agricultural labor were needed, the Federal government would never have discontinued the agricultural guest worker program, the Bracero program. That program was first started in 1942 when migrant labor was genuinely needed during WW II. 

The lack of a guest worker program forces those who truly want seasonal work to break Federal immigration law and other Federal laws. When they attempt to cross the border, rather than crossing in a guest worker program for free, they must pay coyotes thousands of dollars or, more likely, they have to agree to smuggle illegal drugs for the violent cartels. Young illegal immigrant women cannot work as legal seasonal workers and they are too often the victims of violent rape and abuse, facts that are ignored by the pro-Democrat news media. 

This flatly contradicts, and permanently defeats, the argument that big agricultural business needs illegal immigrants for cheap seasonal labor. If big corporate agriculture had its choice, there would be a robust guest worker program enabling temporary workers to cross the border with valid guest worker IDs as they did from the 1940s to 1960s. 

If big agricultural corporations always needed cheap labor, and they are powerful lobbyists in Washington, it’s difficult to explain how they allowed the Bracero program to be discontinued by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Historically, the evidence shows that agricultural lobbyists gave campaign donations to Democrats in order to promote the Bracero program. The real reason the Bracero program was cancelled was that LBJ was a Democrat, and Democrats controlled all the big cities of the nation in the 1960s. All these big cities started to lose population to the suburbs and other states after 1950. 

If big corporate agriculture had so much power to control immigration policy, the Bracero program would still be in effect today. It is difficult to understand how the U.S. does not have a viable guest worker program. The greatest need for seasonal laborers is in the least populated areas of the states, areas where large numbers of teenagers are not available for seasonal work. Digital IDs would make it very easy for big agriculture to “exploit” cheap seasonal migrant labor, yet Democrats fight the idea of a new guest worker program. 

The labor situation of the big cities also argues against the idea that big business needs illegal immigrants for cheap labor. There is a surplus of citizen cheap laborers, they are the teenagers and other unemployed people. As the nation’s number of illegal immigrants has grown the number of unemployed people has also grown. One would predict that if illegal immigrants were needed due to a demand for cheap labor, that the explosion of cheap labor would have wiped out the need for cheap labor and more would be in the labor force. 

But the opposite has happened. Those who did cheap labor jobs in the past, particularly citizen teenagers, are now unemployed at the highest rate since WW II. Since these teenagers were already available as cheap labor, illegal immigrants weren’t needed. That also does not make sense, it doesn’t support the notion that big business is solely responsible for illegal immigration. 

Also, the U.S. now has 94 million people who are not in the labor force and labor force participation for all age groups is the lowest it’s been since 1975. This is all proved by Department of Labor factsheets. If the U.S. had a great need for cheap labor, that implies a labor shortage and a high labor participation rate, and the teenage labor force would not be as unemployed as it is now. This proves there is no need for additional cheap labor. There was no need for cheap labor in Chicago in 1985 when Mayor Harold Washington issued his Executive Order to make Chicago a sanctuary city.

Businesses do not have the authority to issue executive orders in cities, only mayors do. Also, businesses do not have the authority to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants as many states have now done. Big business did not pass a state law, as Illinois did, to make the matrical consular card a valid form of ID in the state. 

This begs the question, if big agriculture is hurt by the ban on guest workers, and the nation is not lacking in cheap labor, why the illegal immigrants are brought to big cities. The answer lies in an analysis of the creation of sanctuary cities, the policies that enabled this creation, who the actors were who created these policies, and what they gained from it. 

Briefly, the sanctuary cities were created to restore population to the big cities of the nation that are dominated by the Democrat Party. All the major players were, and still are, Democrats. President Obama’s most outrageous flouting of the Constitution was an act that assisted illegal immigration; his executive order regarding deportations. Obama also sent his attorney general to interfere with Arizona’s SB 1070 which intended to enforce Federal immigration law. At every step, at every stage in the growth of illegal immigration, Democrats have been there to aggressively flout Federal laws, and issue new executive orders to promote illegal immigration. 

None of these acts were done by big business, nor did big business have the authority to prosecute these acts. Only government did this. To see cheap labor as a benefit to big business is to overlook the causes of illegal immigration, and the benefits to politicians. To say that big business benefits from illegal immigration requires one to overlook the great public costs; the higher property taxes, unemployment, and national debt. These drive down disposable incomes and hurt big business sales.