If your business model isn’t working, the answer is: bring in the aliens.
And since it will help you out of whatever trap you are in, you can label it a matter of national necessity. You can always say “America Needs Aliens” for whatever ails your business.
- It is not your fault that no one wants to work your vegetable fields, which are 50 miles from the nearest source of labor;
- It is not your fault that no American wants to attend your third-rate, for-profit educational institution;
- It is not your fault that no one, for the wages you offer, will work in your salt mine; and
- It is clearly not your fault that no bank wants to invest in, for example, your off-the-beaten-path ski resort.
The problem lies in the immigration laws. Benefits must be made available to aliens, in highly specific ways, in order to make it possible for you to profit in what otherwise might be a failing enterprise.
For some reason the mas-migration people never frame the matter in those terms; it is always a “labor shortage”, a “need” for more overseas investment, a “need” to attract the world’s “best and brightest”.
But the sad truth is that many parts of our immigration laws, 99 percent shaped by needy or greedy businesses and their pro-migration allies, routinely relate to the narrow interests of often failing (or particularly profit-hungry) economic entities.
Of course American business and its pro-migration allies (often including the White House) have large voices, unlike the scattered American workers (citizens and green card holders alike) who lose jobs or suffer wage cuts as a result of these immigration law provisions and whose voices are never heard.
Let’s look at some examples.
If you are in agri-business, and plant a labor-intensive crop (e.g., strawberries or tobacco) far from where people live, your crops get harvested either because the government does not bother to enforce immigration law in the interior (a typical arrangement on the West Coast) or because you can use the low-cost, lightly-regulated H-2A indentured (alien) farmworker program (as many growers do on the East Coast). For decades a prime example of this was the Florida H-2A program for sugar cane cutters.
The work was done under dreadful hot and sticky conditions, with each cutter using a machete to whack the cane an inch or so above the roots; if the cuts were too low they damaged the roots of this perennial crop, if too high, they wasted sugar which concentrates in the lower part of the stalk. This was done, dangerously, by hand for decades because it was regarded as less costly than using machines, which have since taken over. The sugar crop is deeply subsidized, anyway, by taxpayers.
Regarding the lesser, for-profit educational institutions, some of them are totally dependent on foreign students or they would go out of business. The grandly named, but not accredited, University of North America (UNA), in Tyson’s Corner, Va., a few miles from my house, for instance, has zero U.S. residents in its student body, they are all here on F-1 visas. The alien students, however, are lured by legal status in the United States, and the lax rules of our government that allow foreign graduate students to work full-time in the United States from their first day in school. UNA offers nothing but weekend classes.
Federal rules also allow more subtle subsidies for non-profit graduate schools. Much of the actual research work in our universities — including in some of the very best – is done by alien grad students who are paid relatively low wages for their highly skilled work.
As to salt mines, I must admit that’s a metaphor. A real example of miserable, non-farm jobs are those of carnival workers; their employers – not all of whom play by the rules, as this blog shows – can use the H-2B nonimmigrant worker program when they are unwilling to pay enough to obtain resident workers.
The cited blog shows how one carnival operator successfully strung along the Labor Department for years before justice was finally done.
I must say that while the H-2A and H-2B foreign worker programs often bail out failing businesses, the H-1B program (for alien college grads) is more likely to be used by super successful Indian Outsourcing firms and giants like Microsoft and Google to expand their already generous profit margins.
In the field of alien-funded investments we have the EB-5, or immigrant investor program, which we have written about frequently, most recently in this blog on a major Fortune magazine expose published this month. The program is used, to quote the article, to obtain “funding for ventures that banks would never touch.”
In this case it is the alien’s capital, not the alien’s labor, that is often exploited, with some EB-5 ventures crashing and burning and others apparently in potential trouble, such as this much celebrated ski resort in Vermont.
Why do aliens invest in sometimes-shaky EB-5 ventures (that help American middlemen so much)? It is not because they expect profits. It is because they know that two years down the road, if the aliens do not withdraw their investments, there will be a family-sized set of green cards. All in return for a $500,000 investment.
In short, various kinds of businesses, either in trouble or seeking greater profits than they can garner by working in the regular labor market, can look to a nice menu of employer-created niches within the immigration law for assistance.
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