Bernie Sanders 'friends' Big Tech's efforts to import cheaper foreign labor

Bernie Sanders 'friends' Big Tech's efforts to import cheaper foreign labor
© Greg Nash

It is no secret that the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” package is becoming an abject disaster. Progressives are in the middle of a desperate attempt to pass every wish-list item imaginable before the 2022 midterms. Buried deep in the bill’s most recent text is a visa giveaway to powerful technology corporations that would allow them potentially to displace thousands of skilled Americans in favor of hiring foreigners. 

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) blasted this effort in a scorching letter sent to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Symone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Briahna Joy Gray says Chris Cuomo will return to CNN following scandal MORE (I-Vt.), whose committee has jurisdiction over the Build Back Better package, noting that the provisions will allow technology companies “to employ a functionally limitless supply of cheaper foreign labor in place of willing, able and qualified American workers.” 

“I can think of nothing more dispiriting than telling an entire generation of young Americans, who are set to graduate from school and have had to endure the travails of the pandemic, that some of America’s best and highest-paying jobs aren’t available to them because Big Tech secured a corporate carve-out for unlimited foreign labor in the reconciliation bill,” Hagerty wrote.

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Hagerty is correct on these points. He also takes Sanders to task for the Vermont senator’s former principled stance against importing foreign guest workers. It may be hard to imagine, but Sanders was one of the politicians who once bravely opposed amnesty for illegal aliens because of the well-documented effect of illegal immigration on American workers. 

In 2007, the Senate considered the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA). It was typical fare for “comprehensive” reform: Millions of illegal aliens received legalization, with a promise of increased immigration enforcement later. If we learned anything from the 1986 Reagan amnesty, it is that such an approach is bound to fail. The aliens receive their amnesty, but the problems at the border never get solved. The 2007 CIRA bill was no different. 

At the time, Sanders attacked the bill. He said that CIRA would “bring low-wage workers into this country in order to depress the already declining wages of American workers.” He said the bill would be a disaster for American laborers and that the policy of importing cheap foreign workers was a “Koch Brothers proposal” and that opening the borders would make “everyone in America poorer.” 

Here’s the thing: Sanders was 100 percent correct in 2007. The point of importing foreign workers into the U.S. has everything to do with saving money for giant corporations and nothing to do with improving working conditions for Americans. 

Study after study bears out the fact that immigration depresses wages and limits opportunities for Americans. Facebook settled a recent lawsuit with the Justice Department over its use of H-1B workers. Mark ZuckerbergMark ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Amazon draws COVID scrutiny Meta exec who co-founded Diem digital currency leaving the company Two lawyers who filed suit challenging election results ordered to pay nearly 7K MORE’s company will pay a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5 million to affected American workers as part of the settlement, in which it acknowledged preferring H-1B guest workers over Americans. Of course, this should come as no surprise. Zuckerberg founded FWD.us, one of the largest open-borders lobbying groups in the country with an operating budget of tens of millions of dollars. The use of foreign workers by giant tech companies is by design, not by accident. 

Which is why Hagerty is right to call out the hypocrisy of Sanders. Progressives and others on the far left like to claim that Sanders is a man of principled progressivism, rather than another Democratic or Republican shill. 

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Sanders apparently has abandoned his earlier, well-founded beliefs about immigration’s impact on American workers. The self-described working man’s politician appears to be a political opportunist who now supports the same policies coveted by Chamber of Commerce lobbyists. If these corporate carve-outs importing foreigners to replace American workers remain in the Democrats’ tax-and-spend package, it will be because Sanders wanted them there. 

Hagerty is right. Economics and the labor impact of immigrants did not change since 2007. Bernie Sanders did. 

Preston Huennekens is the government relations manager for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).