Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers

Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers

By Joe Guzzardi

Uber, the multinational ride-hailing company that burst onto the scene in 2009, and made Yellow Cab passé, has, at least superficially, enjoyed a phenomenal success record. Only a little more than a decade after its formation, Uber operates in more than 60 countries, 785 municipal centers and has an estimated 110 million worldwide users.

Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers


 
The San Francisco-based Uber also, like its Silicon Valley neighbors Facebook, Apple, eBay, Google and Yahoo, among others, has displaced its U.S. software engineers with H-1B visa holders. Like its corporate partners-in-crime, Uber denies the charges that it laid off Americans in favor of employing foreign nationals.
 
But in its investigative journalism storyThe Mercury News reported that Uber’s Sept. 10 filing with California’s employment regulator showed that in August it had laid off 88 workers from its San Francisco offices, and in October would lay off 320 more in its San Francisco and Palo Alto offices. Most were senior software engineers.
 
During 2019’s first three quarters, Uber filed about 1,800 preliminary applications with the Labor Department for H-1B visas for new software engineer jobs and about 1,500 for new senior software engineer jobs, proof that the company hopes to hire visa holders to replace the outgoing U.S. tech workers.
 
More evidence that money motivates the cheap labor-addicted Uber: its applications put nearly half the senior software engineer positions at the Labor Department’s Level 2 wages, the same level it listed for more than half of the non-senior jobs: a minimum of $109,242 for employment in Palo Alto and $121,077 in San Francisco.
 
But Ron Hira, a Howard University associate professor and H-1B expert, told The Mercury News that the Labor Department says that any software engineer’s job description that includes “senior” in its title should command a Level 3 wage, $132,184 in Palo Alto, and $147,597 in San Francisco.
 
Uber is just one more craven employer to terminate qualified Americans and replace them with pliant foreign workers. For example, in 2015, Toys “R” Usand Disney laid off their most experienced employees and, after forcing the outgoing Americans to train their less qualified replacements, filled the jobs with H-1Bs visa holders. Before and after 2015, the pattern of Americans out, visa holders in has been well established.
 
In its November 2019 report, Challenger Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm, stated that the tech sector announced 7,292 cuts in November. Furthermore, through November, tech companies estimated that they would reduce their payrolls by an additional 63,447 jobs. Tech’s annual job slashing total is 380 percent higher than the 13,222 cuts it announced during the same period in 2018 – 380 percent higher!
 
With H-1B visa abuse finally on Americans’ radar, President Trump is on the spot to deliver on the grandiose campaign promises he made to get tough. From candidate Trump’s March 2016 press release: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”
 
Author, lawyer and long-time H-1B critic John Miano put together a list of seven steps that the president could take that include working with Congress to write legislation that would prevent foreign nationals from displacing Americans. But President Trump’s early promises have proven empty; he’s done little to alleviate the scandalous displacement of U.S. tech workers.
 
The H-1B visa benefits only the foreign nationals who come to the U.S. to take good jobs and the employers that hire them. The big losers are displaced Americans who will struggle to find new jobs. Also, on the stick’s short end are recent university STEM graduates who will be shut out because of employers’ cheap labor addictions. Congress and President Trump have, so far, refused to protect Americans.
 
 
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Uber Wants Foreign Labor But Not For Drivers

Most Want Immigration Slowed, Stopped

Most Want Immigration Slowed, Stopped

By Joe Guzzardi

A year-end Associated Press poll showed that the two top 2019 stories were, first, the House of Representatives’ vote to impeach President Trump and, second, the president’s immigration agenda. The media and the president’s critics refer to Trump’s immigration views as hardline when in fact they reflect his desire to enforce the laws as written and congressionally approved decades ago.

Incumbent Trump versus whichever pro-immigration Democrat survives the endless debate cycle sets up an interesting showdown. Another late December poll, this one taken by Rasmussen, found that Americans are becoming more aware of immigration’s effect on the qualify of life, and understandably so. The nation cannot add more than 1 million new immigrants year after year, as has been the long- standing practice, without societal consequences. Until the Immigration Act of 1965, immigration averaged 250,000 annually.

Included in Rasmussen’s findings: 47 percent of likely voters polled want to slow immigration-driven population growth, and 14 percent want no immigration-related growth. Further, 68 percent believe the federal government should limit legal immigration to no more than 1 million annually – a total it currently exceeds – and 36 percent want no more than 500,000 admitted each year. With regard to population-busting family reunification, also referred to as chain migration, 59 percent of voters think legal immigrants should only be allowed to bring their spouse and minor children with them, while 32 percent favor maintaining the current practice that allows them to eventually bring in other adult relatives, including extended family and their spouse’s families.

Americans have shown a growing concern about immigration-related quality-of-life issues. Once more or less limited to border states like California, Texas and Arizona, immigration has now added population to every state, with dire effects on housing and the environment. The impacts are visible in more and more sprawl, overcrowding and traffic congestion.

Consider Virginia, for example. Virginia’s three fast-growing counties – Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William, all located adjacent to Washington, D.C. – reflect immigration’s consequences on population growth. Since 1990, hundreds of thousands of Hispanics and Asians have moved into the area, and today account for 32 percent of the 1.8 million aggregate residents in the counties. This is triple their 1990 level. During Northern Virginia’s local elections in 2018, some candidates, in response to constituents’ concerns, considered imposing population limits in various affected regions.

The Census Bureau – the ultimate nonpartisan source – projects that if the immigration status quo remains unchanged, future net immigration, the difference between the number coming and number leaving, will total 46 million by 2060, and the total U.S. population will reach 404 million, up from today’s 330 million. Census Bureau data projects that immigration will account for 95 percent of population growth between 2017-2060. Readers can do their own informal poll by asking their friends and neighbors how they feel about adding 75 million more people in the coming decades. The likely result is that most would be overwhelmingly opposed.

Yet, the federal government continues on its current path, apparently unconcerned about the nation’s future or cowed by likely xenophobia charges or a combination of both. But ignorance and cowardice are not leadership qualities. Two years ago, senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act (the RAISE Act) that would, over a ten-year period, reduce immigration by 50 percent. The bill had only two cosponsors. Reintroduced in 2019, along with Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) endorsement, the proposed legislation has only the original three signatories, plus Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). In short, Congress is making little if any effort to comply with American voters’ wishes for less immigration.

In U.S. politics, nowhere is the divide greater between voters and elitist Congress than on immigration.


Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Most Want Immigration Slowed, Stopped
Most Want Immigration Slowed, Stopped

9 Million Overstay Visas

9 Million Overstay Visas

By Joe Guzzardi

9 Million Overstay Visas

The Migration Policy Institute, which describes itself as a nonpartisan think tank that seeks “to improve immigration” through its research and analysis, recently published a report stating that in FY 2018 the State Department issued 9 million temporary visas to nonimmigrants. Although the 2018 total represents a 7 percent decline from FY 2017, 9 million is still a staggering number, the rough equivalent of New Jersey’s population.
 
MPI blames the visa issuance’s decline on President Trump’s more restrictive immigration policies and his “harsh rhetoric” that conveys the impression that the U.S. has become a “less welcoming place.” Be that as it may, the huge 9 million number indicates that the U.S. is generous, not restrictive, in its approach to foreign workers and visitors. Moreover, MPI didn’t outline the benefits to American citizens of fewer temporary workers and students on visas.
 
Employment visas – which give foreign nationals the right to legally work in the U.S. – include the H-1B for skilled employees, the H-2A for seasonal agricultural workers, the H-2B and the H-2R  for seasonal nonagricultural workers, the O-1 and O-2 for workers with allegedly extraordinary ability or achievements, the P-1 for athletes and artists, the L-1 for intracompany transferrers, the E visa for investors and, finally, the TN visa for Canadian and Mexican professionals, as well as their spouses and minor children. Critics have long insisted that many of the visas are unnecessary, and hurt Americans.
 
For example, H-2B visas, limited to 66,000 annually, are granted to overseas workers who, among other positions, take landscaping, lifeguard and hospitality jobs – jobs Americans would eagerly do.
 
Temporary worker visa issuance has been on a dramatically upward trend since 2014. The number increased from 732,000 in FY 2014 to 911,000 in 2017 and to 925,000 in 2018. Basically, the presence of employment-based visa holders means that for Americans job competition is more intense, and citizens who hold jobs may find their employment status at risk from foreign, often cheaper workers.
 
For U.S. citizen students, especially those who hope to matriculate at their local state universities, the 27 percent decline from an estimated 1 million student visas in FY 2015 to 781,000 in FY 2018 means less international competition. Since overseas students pay higher tuition, college admissions offices prefer them to U.S. students who pay lower instate fees. The top international student sending nations are China, India, South Korea, Brazil and Germany which represent 39 percent of all student visas issued in FY 2018.
 
But the most troubling aspect of the huge inflow of foreign temporary visitors is that an estimated 40 percent of illegal aliens entered the U.S. legally on visas, but overstayed and thus became illegally present. Temporary eventually becomes permanent. Most overstays find white-collar jobs. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security reported that during a recent 12-month period, nearly 740,000 foreign nationals didn’t return home in accordance with their visas’ terms. Their illegal presence is one of the major contributors to illegal immigration. Analysts have found that in each of the last seven years, visa overstays have exceeded illegal crossings.
 
The sad truth is that the federal government isn’t looking for overstays, and if it did look would have no idea where to start its search. But if Costco can immediately locate every brick of cheese in its 762 worldwide stores, then the federal government should be able to track down foreign visa overstays. A program exists that would help reach that goal – a biometric entry/exit system – but Congress has been indifferent to implementing it.
 
Fewer visas is good news for prospective U.S. college students and American workers. The fewer visas that are issued also means that the illegal alien population as well as the population in general will not continue to swell with overstayers.
 
Immigration advocates always push for more visas, so fewer is a refreshing change of pace that results in tangible advantages for many American workers and students.
 
 
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org

9 Million Overstay Visas

Wolf Plot Hikes Energy Costs For Working People

Wolf Plot Hikes Energy Costs For Working People

By Leo Knepper

Back in January, we shared a Guest Post with our readers on the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). The author, Lowman Henry, noted:

“[T]he Wolf Administration has entered into an agreement with nine other mostly northeastern states to cap each of the states’ carbon emissions from transportation (your car). The states have one year to come up with a plan. Such plans will most certainly include additional taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel…the money will be “redistributed” to “low carbon transportation systems” – in other words urban mass transit…Thus the lofty sounding Transportation and Climate Initiative allows Governor Wolf to advance two of his top agenda items: establish a new revenue stream to keep urban mass transit afloat and penalize users of carbon-based fuels. Keep in mind, those users include you every time you start your car or use a product that was delivered to the store by motor vehicle, which is to say everything.” (Emphasis added)

Wolf Plot Hikes Energy Costs For Working People
Rich and Indifferent

The TCI plan was released on Dec. 17, and it is everything we feared it would be. The Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, CAP, has joined with allies from across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in voicing our opposition to this plan. We noted in a joint letter:

“Legislators should not allow one citizen of a state — the governor — to impose such serious financial burdens on all other citizens. Such a decision rightfully belongs to the people’s representatives and should be reached through the legislative process, not by the decree of a single executive. “The TCI is a poorly conceived, fundamentally regressive, and economically damaging proposal.”

Pennsylvania already has one of the highest gas taxes in the country. According to TCI’s own estimates carbon emissions will decrease by 19 percent from 2022-2032. They don’t think that’s good enough. Instead, the TCI is advocating a new gas tax ranging from five to seventeen cents per gallon in order to reduce emissions by only an additional one to six percent. The mere fact that Governor Wolf would consider increasing the tax yet again is appalling. The question now is whether or not the legislature will take substantive action to reclaim its power of the purse to combat the measure.

Wolf Plot Hikes Energy Costs For Working People

Ag Amnesty Again Passes House

Ag Amnesty Again Passes House

By Joe Guzzardi

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 (HR 5038), a massive amnesty that the bill’s title tries to disguise. The final vote, mostly along party lines, was 260-165.

By giving the legislation a sympathetic but totally misleading name, its Open Borders signatories hope that the public will get behind it, and encourage the Senate to pass it. The House dares not identify HR 5038 as what it is: an amnesty that includes lifetime valid work permits, Green Cards and a path to citizenship for up to 1.5 million illegal aliens who have been employed – or claim they’ve been employed – in ag at least part-time during the last two years. Amnesty would also be granted to their family members.

Illegal alien ag workers who spent as little as weekends-only on the job would qualify. But a big caveat, the Green Cards won’t come until the workers have been subjected to a minimum of four years of slave-like labor. Growers know that once their laborers have Green Cards in hand, the workers will leave their indentured servitude positions to head off for better jobs in construction, manufacturing or retail. History confirms this pattern. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act granted amnesty to about 1.1 million so-called Special Agricultural Workers, or SAWS, plus their spouses and minor children. But once the government issued the Green Cards, the ag workers quickly found more lucrative employment.

HR 5038 extends its damage beyond the ag industry. The bill’s sponsors kept the numerically unlimited H-2A category for seasonal work. But, HR 5038 expanded the H-2A guest worker program to include dairy, meat and fish processing, and canning employment, and would also set aside 20,000 H-2A visas each year that could be used for year-round agricultural jobs traditionally held by American workers.

The bill would also create 40,000 additional Green Cards each year for longtime H-2A workers and other low-skilled foreign workers. If HR 5038 becomes law, it would virtually ensure that Americans employed or seeking employment in several industries would be shut out or possibly lose the jobs they already hold. Passed without debate, the legislators didn’t acknowledge the inconvenient truth that legal immigrants or U.S. citizens hold about 50 percent of agriculture or agriculturally related positions.

HR 5038 offers not a modicum of modernization. The House bill, bowing to the powerful ag lobby made up of mostly former federal employees, spends more than $100 million annually to guarantee that growers will have continued access to unproductive, low-wage immigrant labor. True modernization means mechanization. Unlike humans, robots can operate 24/7 and have been successfully put to use worldwide. Machines manufactured in Australia, Holland and Japan harvest radishes, brussels sprouts, kale and other crops at, compared to manual picking, lightening-like speed.

Once employers become foreign worker-dependent, they stop looking for practical alternatives like mechanization. Employers count on immigrant workers’ continuous presence in their future plans instead of taking full advantage of the no-cap H-2A visa. At the same time, foreign workers come to depend on their meager earnings to support their families, thereby vastly increasing the likelihood that the “guests” will become permanent fixtures. As the old and often-repeated immigration bromide goes, nothing is more permanent than a guest worker.

Congress has introduced an ag amnesty bill every year for more than a decade. Anti-American worker Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who during her 25-year congressional career has an unbroken record of endorsing more worker visas, is the original sponsor of HR 5038. But if Congress really wanted to help farm workers instead of their hooked-on-cheap-labor employers, it would slow, instead of promote, more guest programs that will eventually include amnesty.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Ag Amnesty Again Passes House
Ag Amnesty Again Passes House

Most Leftist Governor Is Tom Wolf Says HuffPo

Most Leftist Governor Is Tom Wolf Says HuffPo

By Lowman S. Henry

In 1992, then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton ran for president as a centrist Democrat with an eye toward capturing what was at the time a much larger moderate section of the electorate.  It worked.  He won. He declared “over” the era of big government.

Today the era of big government is alive and thriving and his party has moved into a full embrace of socialism although they attempt to soften its image by calling it “democratic socialism.”  Bill Clinton’s brand of moderation would not stand a snowball’s chance in today’s Democratic Party.

Here in Penn’s Woods, where once Democrats positioned themselves as champions of the working class, ultra-Left wing give-away programs have replaced economic advancement as the principal focus of the party’s policy agenda.

Governor Tom Wolf, crowned by the Huffington Post as the “most liberal governor in America,” has certainly lived up to that reputation.  In just the last year he has taken steps to embroil Pennsylvania in a draconian multi-state agreement purporting to address so-called climate change, proposed restrictions on Second Amendment gun rights, unilaterally overspent the state budget, and vetoed legislation protecting unborn babies with Down Syndrome.

But the governor is not alone in taking a hard Left turn: the state’s big city mayors are right there with him pandering to the party’s radical base while proposing job crushing policies, violating constitutional rights and abandoning common sense.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto stoked the crowd at something called the Climate Action Summit by announcing his opposition to any additional petrochemical cracker plants in the region. Setting aside the fact neither the plant being constructed in Beaver County nor any contemplated plant would be built in the City of Pittsburgh, Peduto railed against fracking and the perceived evils of carbon based fuels.

The problem is the plant currently being built by Royal Dutch Shell, as with development of the fracking industry as a whole, have literally created tens of thousands of family sustaining jobs for the blue collar constituency formerly courted by Democratic politicians.

The damage done by Peduto’s comments drew a rare rebuke from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald who told KDKA radio: “No city has benefitted more from the shale revolution than the city of Pittsburgh. Not just the county, the entire region.”  A number of area labor leaders, whose members are experiencing the best jobs of their lives from shale-related development, also joined in denouncing Petuto’s comments.

Peduto, along with his Pittsburgh City Council allies, also has made headlines for the effort to violate the constitutional Second Amendment rights of city residents. In the wake of the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue last year, council pushed through and Peduto signed three controversial measures into law.  The laws were immediately challenged in court where defenders of Second Amendment rights correctly argue they are unconstitutional.

In what could be considered an electoral rebuke of Peduto’s far Left policies, and the rush to socialism within the Democratic Party, the counties outside of Allegheny in the Pittsburgh media market  turned bright red in last November’s general election.  Republicans flipped control of county courthouses in Westmoreland, Washington, Greene, and Armstrong counties, while Fayette, Butler and Beaver remained in the GOP camp.

Meanwhile, across the state, Philadelphia Mayor Bill Kenney literally flies the flag for socialism.  In “celebration” of the 70th anniversary of the coming to power of Mao Zedong and his Communist Party in China the Chinese flag was hoisted at City Hall.  This was done in fealty to “diversity,” although how honoring a brutal regime that has murdered millions celebrates diversity remains a mystery.

The far-Left tilt of Pennsylvania’s two big city mayors underscores the growing geographic and ideological chasm in the state’s political landscape.  Our urban areas have politically become socialist enclaves, while more rural areas grow more conservative.  Leading Democratic Presidential candidates include outright socialists, while Donald Trump’s economic populism prevails in the Republican Party.

Thus the upcoming presidential election is not just your typical battle between Republicans and Democrats; it will pit democratic socialism against capitalism in what will be a pitched battle for the economic soul of America.

Mr. Henry is chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal

Most Leftist Governor Is Tom Wolf Says HuffPo

Fortune Magazine Ignored OPT Flaws

Fortune Magazine Ignored OPT Flaws

By Joe Guzzardi

Michael Goodwin, a New York Post columnist who began his journalism career at The New York Times, last month wrote a two-part commentary that chronicled the long, steady erosion of reporting integrity. Although Goodwin focused on the Times, his observations that bias has become common in the mainstream media easily applies to many publications. Editors who could once be counted on to, as Goodwin wrote, veer copy toward the middle, gradually became as much of a problem as the reporters whose work they review.

Nowhere is journalism bias more blatantly on display than in immigration stories. Even though polling shows that at least half of all Americans want less immigration, most stories tell only the expansion side, and in the process leave their readers under-informed.

Case in point: Fortune Magazine, the respected, 90-year-old business publication, recently did a story about one of most controversial programs that’s hurtful to U.S. tech workers, the Optional Practical Training program. In brief, OPT allows international students on F-1 visas to remain in the U.S. and work for at least a year, and longer if they have earned degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

Although there are multiple reasonable arguments that can be made in opposition to OPT, none of them appeared in reporter Nicole Goodkind’s article. Among OPT’s flaws that Goodkind omitted are that OPT is not congressionally approved, yet it has ballooned into the nation’s largest guest worker program.

OPT is a voracious American job killer. Department of Homeland Securitydata shows that, since 2015 and through May 2017, nearly 500,000 students received OPT, and another 150,000 have STEM extensions. That’s 650,000 good jobs being held now by foreign nationals versus qualified American workers. There’s a powerful incentive for tech companies to hire OPT foreign workers. A 15 percent discount has allowed multinational corporations to evade at least $20 billion to $30 billion in FICA taxes over the years. The OPT worker doesn’t pay FICA either, and therefore doesn’t contribute to Social Security or Medicare.

In her 1,200-word article, Goodkind glowingly cited five pro-OPT sources, including major corporations, that profit from the program. Among them are Google and immigration advocacy groups like the Mark Zuckerberg-founded FWD.us. Goodkind wrote that an amicus brief FWD.us filed supporting OPT read like: “a who’s who of Silicon Valley. Tech giants like GoogleAppleAmazon, Facebook, Airbnb, Bloomberg, IntelMicrosoft, Tesla, Twitter, Uber, and Zillow….”

Yet Goodkind quoted only one critic, John Miano, a lawyer and expert on the effect of foreign labor on technology workers. Miano has worked on behalf of workers and pro-American worker organizations and for more than a decade has challenged OPT in federal court. Goodkind assassinated Miano’s character and that of his associates. Goodkind quoted Miano after she had inaccurately and wrongly marginalized him.

Miano told me, however, that if Goodkind had done the due diligence once considered honest journalism’s bedrock instead of lazily relying on FWD.usshe would have seen that the money trail explains everything. “The tech industry spends tens of millions of dollars each month lobbying for more foreign labor and to preserve their ability to replace working American with that foreign labor,” said Miano.

Fortune once was a highly respected magazine that would never have allowed slanted copy like Goodkind’s to get past the first editorial layer, let alone get published. By passing over OPT’s damaging effects on American workers, Goodkind abandoned the principals that journalists themselves established years ago. The 110-year-old Society for Professional Journalists’ ethics code warns reporters to “avoid advocacy,” advice which Goodkind ignored. As former Washington Post ombudsman E.R. Shipp wrote in her column “In Pursuit of Fairness,” no story is fair if it omits facts of major importance and significance. Goodkind disregarded that basic, most obvious rule.

Reporters like Goodkind need to remember that the full story – he said, she said – is always more compelling than a cheerleading story that quickly becomes tedious.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Fortune Magazine Ignored OPT Flaws
Fortune Magazine Ignored OPT Flaws

Pennsylvania Legislative Salaries Hit $90,300 Not Including Benefits

Pennsylvania Legislative Salaries Hit $90,300 (and this doesn’t include benefits).

By Leo Knepper

As of Dec. 1, the base salary for Pennsylvania lawmakers will increase to $90,300 per year. This pay raise comes as the result of an annual cost-of-living-increase (COLA) they receive automatically. The higher salary will be on top of any per diems, health insurance, etc. that lawmakers are eligible to receive.  

As an aside, lawmakers pay only one percent per year of their salary for health benefits. In other words, their annual premium is roughly $900 for health insurance that is second to none. There are many taxpayers whose monthly insurance bill exceeds that amount.

The $90,300 salary is the minimum for members of the General Assembly. As noted by the Associated Press:

“Lawmakers in leadership posts will top out at $141,000 for House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. The four caucus floor leaders in the House and Senate will each make almost 130,900 while the four caucus whips and the four Appropriations Committee chairs will receive $121,100.”

The salary differences between rank and file members and “leadership” are especially noteworthy. It presents another clear example of how our beloved judicial branch ignores the plain text of the Pennsylvania Constitution. According to Article II, Section 8, “The members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever, whether for service upon committee or otherwise.” (Emphasis added)

Members of the General Assembly aren’t the only ones who will benefit from taxpayers’ forced generosity in the new year. When January rolls around, members of the executive branch will also see an increase in their pay. Governor Wolf’s salary will increase to over $200,000 per year. The Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Tom Saylor, will make over $220,000 per year.

Many lawmakers will, if they haven’t already, make a show of donating their salary increase to a charity. It is a standard public relations move on their part, and has become as regular as the leaves changing colors. However, despite their righteous indignation, there is never any real interest in eliminating the automatic COLA by changing the law. Finally, for any lawmakers in the defined benefit pension plan, the higher annual salary, regardless of charitable contributions, will be used to calculate their pension benefits upon retirement.

Unlike members of the General Assembly, CAP can’t force anyone to pay for projects we want to undertake. Next year is going to be incredibly busy for us. If you value what CAP does and would like to help us continue holding Harrisburg accountable, please consider making a financial contribution to our efforts.

Pennsylvania Legislative Salaries Hit $90,300 (And This Doesn’t Include Benefits)
Pennsylvania Legislative Salaries Hit $90,300 (and this doesn't include benefits).

Gavin Newsom Ignores Crisis Afflicting California

Gavin Newsom Ignores Crisis Afflicting California

By Joe Guzzardi

I recently returned to my Pittsburgh home from a trip to Sacramento. I went reluctantly. When I fled my native California in 2008, I vowed never to return. A better way to phrase my departure would be to say that I felt pushed out. Overdevelopment sprawl and an increasingly reckless government made California unrecognizable to me. But a close friend’s retirement party drew me back.
 
My instincts to stay away were correct. Sacramento, within living memory, a quiet Central California city, is well on its way to matching Los Angeles and San Jose for unsustainable, quality of life-killing growth. As for societal trends, my hotel was located directly across the street from the State Capitol building, a favorite homeless encampment. Last month, homeless transients attacked state groundskeepers. The last thing a Sacramento visitor would want to do is take an after-dinner stroll around the block.
 
Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom, like many other state officials trying to sweet talk their way out of citizens’ backlash against indifference to the public health and safety concerns that the homeless create, has promised more housing programs. During his first ten months in office, Newsom signed $1.75 billion in new housing initiatives. Newsom also helped pass laws that would reduce evictions and exorbitant rent hikes.
 
Realists, however, know that more housing cannot keep up with Sacramento’s exploding population growth. Sacramento is growing at 1.5 percent, making it the fastest expanding large California city. Sacramento’s surrounding counties have also undergone major population increases. The City of Trees, as Sacramento is fondly but inaccurately remembered, is also the nation’s most competitive rental market and ranks among the highest when measured by monthly fee increases.
 
Given California’s population doubling between Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial administration, 1967 to 1974, from about 20 million to today’s 40 million and projected to exceed 50 million within the next three decades, prudent leadership would try to slow immigration and thereby take the pressure off of the state’s already seemingly insurmountable problems. Yet Newsom walks on the opposite path, and at every turn foolishly encourages more immigration. Calling them “a stain on our nation’s history,” Newsom has relentlessly attacked President Trump’s reasonable attempts to bring about practical immigration reform, and instead has expanded illegal immigrants’ rights and protections. Under Newsom’s new guidelines, illegal immigrants will be allowed to serve on government boards and commissions, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be banned from making immigration violation arrests in statewide courthouses.
 
As part of Newsom’s immigration expansiveness, California became the first U.S. state to offer taxpayer-funded Medicaid health care benefits to low-income aliens younger than 25. The new policy is the irrational and costly entitlement follow up to Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2016 decision to allow children under age 16 access to health care regardless of their immigration status. A gloating Newsom commented that when it comes to health policy, “… (W)e [California] are the most un-Trump state in America.” Prospective migrants’ interpretation: Come one, come all! California will take good care of you.
 
Newsom’s pre-public servant career included investments in Napa Valley wineries – with assistance from the billionaire Getty family – and a restaurant and clothing chain, through which he amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune that enabled him to buy a Russian Hill mansion. As one of California’s most elite, immigration increases don’t affect Newsom. But the governor is elected to represent all his constituents, not just a select demographic that he’s decided to favor.
 
Newsom should ask exactly how many more immigrants California can support. If he answers honestly, he should act accordingly and act sensibly, something he’s shown no interest in doing.
 
 
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

Gavin Newsom Ignores Crisis Afflicting California
Gavin Newsom Ignores Crisis Afflicting California

53 Million Hold Low-Wage Jobs

53 Million Hold Low-Wage Jobs

By Joe Guzzardi

The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program just released a study that casts serious doubt on President Trump’s insistence that the economy is improving, and that the employment market is strong.
 
Brookings’ findings confirm that working doesn’t necessarily translate into earning a decent wage. Despite record low 3.6 percent unemployment, the Brookings’ report, “Meet the Low-Wage Workforce,” shows that 53 million Americans – 44 percent of all workers age 18 to 64 – hold low-wage jobs, earn median hourly wages of $10.22 and have a $17,950 median annual income.
 
Brookings’ research revealed that low-wage workers are racially diverse: Fifty-two percent are white; 25 percent, Latino or Hispanic; 15 percent, African-American, and 5 percent, Asian American. Both Latino and black workers are overrepresented relative to their share of the total workforce, as are women who account for 54 percent of low-wage workers, higher than their 48 percent total workforce share.
 
Economic hardship is widespread among many Americans. Brookings found that 30 percent of low-wage workers live in families earning below 150 percent of the poverty line; 16 million low-wage workers get by on very low incomes – about $30,000 for a family of three and $36,000 for a family of four. Of low-wage workers, 26 percent, or 14 million people, are the only earners in their families, with $20,400 median family earnings and another 25 percent, or 13 million people, live in families in which all workers earn low wages.
 
“Meet the Low-Wage Workforce” exposes a national disgrace, and makes the U.S. immigration policy that brings in more than 1 million immigrants each year, and issues them lifetime valid work authorization documents, indefensible. No intelligent argument can be made that, in an era when so many Americans are underemployed, immigration should continue at the pace that has been maintained for decades. More immigration means an expanded workforce when what’s needed is a much tighter labor market. In order to keep pace with immigration-fueled population growth, the economy must add 150,000 jobs per month. But the October Bureau of Labor Statistics establishment survey showed that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by only 128,000 jobs.
 
Travel into the weeds to learn how hurtful the immigration status quo is to Americans. For every five new American workers who turns 18 and enter the job market, one work-authorized immigrant receives a Green Card. The guest or temporary worker inflow is also a major challenge that job-seeking Americans must overcome. Although the federal government doesn’t maintain exact statistics on annual guest worker totals, data suggests that between 750,000 and 1 million low-skilled and high-skilled foreign nationals arrive each year on employment-based visas. In 2016, the Congressional Research Service reported that “employment-based admission has more than doubled from just over 400,000 in FY1994 to over 1 million in FY2014,” but workers aren’t subject to any skill-based labor market tests which could affirm their potential contribution to the U.S. economy.
 
Finally, according to the Pew Research Center, in 2017 the civilian workforce included about 7.6 million illegal aliens, and another 1 milliondeferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) and temporary protected status recipients were employed.
 
Despite evidence to the contrary, Congress, elitesthe mediaimmigration advocates and, perhaps most threatening of all, the current Democratic presidential candidates – those who if elected might influence the federal government on the future of immigration – insist that the U.S. needs expanded immigration which means that, by extension, there will be continuously loose labor markets.
 
The important immigration questions have yet to be asked in Democratic debates. With the open borders which the candidates endorse, will there be jobs for new migrants without further displacement of American workers? Proposals to limit immigration to sustainable levels are invariably met with racism or xenophobia accusations. But citizens’ employment needs must come before foreign nationals’ interests, a priority that’s long overdue.
 
 
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org

53 Million Hold Low-Wage Jobs
53 Million Hold Low-Wage Jobs