The Marketplace

The marketplace works in strange ways.

The marketplace works in the American economy to create a vociferous demand for both cheap labor and highly skilled labor.

Cheap labor continues to flow across the border because the marketplace needs the labor to get done. From picking oranges to working in chicken-plucking factories, the labor needs to get done cheaply.

There are not enough American workers who are willing to do the job. If there were no jobs for these unskilled laborers, who come from Central America, Eastern Europe and all parts of Asia, it is highly unlikely that they would come here in such numbers.

The marketplace has overwhelmed the laws that govern this nation, making those laws largely irrelevant. That is why the Senate and the president have attempted to change the laws governing unskilled labor and immigration.



The marketplace is also having an impact on highly skilled laborers. But unlike cheap labor, where the job-seekers can’t be picky, highly skilled laborers have many choices. They can migrate to our rivals, helping to build their economies to be more competitive than our own. The marketplace dictates that we change the laws governing highly skilled labor to allow more to come to this country. If not, we will face increased competition and hurt our own economic growth. That is why the Senate and the president have included a marketplace preservation provision to increase H1-B visas.

The marketplace has also dictated how some pundits and politicians react. Rush Limbaugh has decided to demagogue against this bill. He learned from Lou Dobbs that bashing immigrants is a smart marketplace decision to increase ratings. Sure, it is fun to scare Americans into thinking that a comprehensive immigration reform proposal is amnesty. And more people will listen to you to boot. Once again, a marketplace decision.

Newt Gingrich made a marketplace decision, too. If he wants to be a real presidential contender, he needs to appeal to those primary voters who vote not on their aspirations, but their fears. Newt knows how easy it is to criticize those who are doing the nitty-gritty work of real legislating. He once was in the middle of it. Now he is an outsider, and he is lobbing rhetorical bombs in the hopes of once again becoming an insider. His marketplace is the primary voters, and he has made a rational marketplace decision, based on that marketplace.

Preserving the American marketplace means having a rational immigration policy. It means changing the law to adapt to reality. It means making the system work better by increasing opportunities and ending the lies and hypocrisy of the current system. It means opening our arms and our economy to the world. Sadly, some still see the possibilities in playing to the nativist marketplace for increased votes and increased ratings. But in the long term, that tactic is a political loser. Ask Pete Wilson how playing to that base helped the Republicans in California.

More in Immigration

How immigration laws harm skilled immigrants and Americans

Read more »