January 13, 2018

Trump's pro cheap labor stance signals willingness for amnesty and guest worker immigration

Most of the attention over the past few days has gone to Trump's description of Haiti and Africa as "shithole countries," echoing earlier statements that Haitians "all have AIDS" and that Nigerians would never "go back to their huts" after seeing America.

I'm unsure if he included El Salvador (MS-13) and other Central American countries with the shithole countries, but he did kick off his campaign by describing all the garbage that was pouring into this country from Mexico -- rapists, drug dealers, gang members, etc.

And after a radical Islamic terrorist attack here, as a candidate he famously called for an end of Muslim immigration into this country, and tried to get through a Muslim travel ban via executive order.

These examples suggest that his main opposition to immigration is based on the corporeal threats posed by foreigners -- violence, disease, and drugs. Not unusual for a conservative.

What about the economic impact of hordes of foreigners flowing in? Immigrants come here in order to undercut American wages (still well above the wages in their homeland), and then drive up the cost of housing by adding tens of millions of people to the demand for housing almost overnight.

Trump almost never mentions this, even though it's the main focus for the very few fellow Republicans who are immigration hardliners, like Tom Cotton and Stephen Miller. Improving the lot of working and middle-class Americans was the justification for the RAISE Act (which only has two supporters in the Senate, Cotton and Perdue).

It's doubly odd since Trump's major campaign theme alongside America-first nationalism was populism, rather than helping the corporate elites do even better when they're already so well off.

In a recent long interview with the WSJ, Trump repeatedly defends giving amnesty to the DACA people -- and perhaps the entire illegal population -- on the basis of needing more workers, especially for companies that may move into America:

Mr. Trump: ...You have a lot of people of those 800 [thousand, i.e. the DACA people], they work hard, they have jobs. We need workers in this country; we need people to come in and work because I have a lot of companies moving in.

And I’m getting a lot of questions like we want to move to Wisconsin, we wanted—like Wisconsin, I have Foxconn coming to Wisconsin; that’s my deal. You know the head of Foxconn, you know he’s a friend of mine. He’s still only moving there because of me. And the governor has been fantastic.

The governor of Wisconsin has been fantastic in their presentations and everything else. But I’m the one who got them to look at it. Now we need people because they’re going to have thousands of people working it’s going to be a—you know—that’s—that’s the company that makes the Apple iPhone.

WSJ: Yeah.

Mr. Trump: Is that—they’re going to build them here, they’re going to build other things here too.

We need people so we have to be a little bit flexible. I don’t want to be so—I’ve had another pledge that I’m going to move companies back into this country. I don’t want to make it so tough that they can’t come back in.

Would you say that’s a correct statement, Gary, we have to have people.

Gary Cohn: Yeah.


Mr. Trump: That’s comprehensive [immigration reform, AKA amnesty for all illegals]—well, if we could do that, that’s fine. I don’t know that that’s going to be possible.

Part of Trump's salesmanship is speaking mostly in "floating signifiers" where the audience can fill them in however they want, rather than spelling things out in lawyerly detail, which might turn off a customer if the details are not what they were looking for. While this allows him to build a broad coalition, it also lets him use verbal sleight-of-hand when there's bad news for one audience and good news for another.

Like the recurring phrase "we need people" -- it means nothing on its own, and the listener has to fill in who the people are, what they're doing, and why we need them rather than someone else to do whatever it is they're doing.

In a weak moment, he let the full description slip out at the beginning -- "we need people to come in and work". So he's talking about guest worker immigrants coming into our country on work visas.

Why do we need these immigrants to fill these jobs? The opposition is to native US workers -- they won't be hired at these companies who are bringing in guest workers, or hiring from the DACA population (who already have work permits) or from the to-be-amnestied overall illegal population.

He gives the example of the Foxconn plant that they're planning to build in Wisconsin. Why would he say, in the context of giving amnesty to DACA people and/or the overall illegals, "we need people because [Foxconn is] going to have thousands of people working"? He is saying that most of the jobs created at the Foxconn plant will be going to foreigners, whether they're DACA or guest workers.

I couldn't believe that when I read it, but a search of who these Foxconn workers will be turned up an excellent three-part expose by Belt Mag (covering Rust Belt topics), here here and here.

Did anyone know that Foxconn already has plants in the US? Their own site lists a plant in Indiana, another in Virginia, and the Belt articles describe one in Houston (along with the one in Indiana). So it's not as though this would be the first Foxconn plant in America -- and we can therefore base our expectations for the Wisconsin plant on their track record in their other American plants.

Most people debating the plant are assuming that the jobs will be going to Americans, and are only debating whether they'll be from Wisconsin or nearby Illinois, whether the pollution risk is worth building the plant, how soon the tax breaks will be paid back, etc.

But it turns out that Foxconn's existing plants in Indiana and Texas hire damn few Americans. Most of the professional, technical, and managerial jobs are held by H-1B visa holders from China, and a majority of the less skilled assembly work is done by (generally illegal) foreigners. For language barrier reasons, presumably these foreigners are also Chinese rather than Mexican or Indian.

From the first article (my emphasis):

Of the Foxconn factory in Plainfield, Indiana, some 16 miles west of Indianapolis, these former employees describe a corporate and management culture that treats Indiana workers as disposable; that favors Taiwanese nationals for management and advancement; and that heavily relies on undocumented workers who are carefully distanced from the parent company via the heavy use of temp agencies.

Indiana native Carl Williams spent a year and a half between 2008 and 2010 at Foxconn’s Plainfield facility as a quality technician and later a data analyst. He reveals that a majority of the 900 workers who were employed at the computer assembly factory during his tenure there were undocumented. “On days when word got out that Immigration [and Customs Enforcement] was coming,” he says, “most of the workforce would be missing.” Williams also describes a “wink and nod” attitude by management toward the use of undocumented workers as the facility declined to be certified as an e-verified workplace (an internet based system of checking worker identification). According to Williams, management acted on the pretense that they simply weren’t aware of, and certainly not responsible for, the documentation status of the bulk of the workforce. Williams added that management appeared to be more interested in rock-bottom wages, dodging the cost of expensive benefits, and maintaining their ability to lay off and rehire for seasonal demand.

Andre Morris, who was a Foxconn employee in Indiana from 2005 to 2013, confirms the large number of undocumented workers at the Plainfield facility and also recalls the sea of empty chairs when there were rumors of an impending ICE raid.

We can tell how much the Foxconn plants here rely on foreign labor by the fact that they get constantly raided by ICE.

From the third article, on the state seizing Wisconsinites' private land to build housing for the guest workers:

But Knapp also believes that, even if they could, Foxconn doesn’t intend to hire locals. With an expression of the proud possessor of inside information she lowers her voice and says that her two sons work construction and that their company is currently bidding on an excavation project. “They’re putting in a housing complex, an entire village, for the Chinese.” Meanwhile, she says, a neighbor down the road just a short distance outside of the Foxconn industrial quadrant has been approached to sell land for a condo project. If Foxconn’s past behavior is any indication, the additional housing is presumably for mid-career engineers from Asia who demand less than the average starting salary available to a fresh University of Wisconsin engineering graduate.

So, this Foxconn deal is completely the opposite of how Trump and the GOP have been portraying it -- everyone from the corporate shareholders to the white collar professionals to the blue collar workers will be Chinese, not American. Their profits, salaries, and wages will not go out into America but will remain in the Chinese company town, or sent back home to China. And American taxpayers will be subsidizing this thing out the ass for decades.

It's the opposite of populism, fleecing taxpayers to give corporate welfare; and it's the opposite of America-first, giving all the benefits to foreigners.

This is Trump's model that he chose for the guest worker program, and the raison d'etre for amnestying the DACA people or even the entire illegal population (if only the Democrats would agree to the specifics).

In that recent clusterfuck of an immigration negotiation with Dems and Republicans, Trump said over and over how he'd like to move right on to "comprehensive" immigration reform, i.e. amnesty for all illegals. That was not an off-the-cuff remark, as he repeats it a few times in the WSJ interview.

We knew back during the campaign that Trump was squishy on the cheap labor use of immigration, as he kept flip-flopping about whether he supported curbing the H-1B visa program or letting Silicon Valley magnates bring in as many cheap foreign guest workers as they wanted. His unguided instinct was to always side with the Zuckerbergs, and tell sob stories about the poor foreigners who study at Harvard and then can't get jobs at Facebook.

Then his campaign staffers, probably just Stephen Miller, would have to issue a press statement saying, "No, the H-1B program is exploitative and anti-American, so we're going to terminate it." Then someone would ask him about it, and he'd give his instinctive answer that it was awesome, followed by another reversal statement from Miller via the press, over and over again.

Was that just during the campaign, and then he changed his tune after he won the election? No: in the Fire and Fury account of the Trump transition and early presidency, there's an anecdote about the head honchos of Silicon Valley visiting Trump Tower to push for more H-1B visas, Trump agreeing with them, Rupert Murdoch trying to correct Trump for this anti-populist anti-nationalist position, and Trump blowing off that suggestion.

The president-elect enjoyed being courted. On December 14, a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley came to Trump Tower to meet him. Later that afternoon, according to a source privy to details of the conversation, Trump called Rupert Murdoch, who asked him how the meeting had gone.

“Oh, great, just great,” said Trump. “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

“Donald,” said Murdoch, “for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

“Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.”

Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”

“What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

Now, most of the response to this vignette was about the exact words that Murdoch used to call Trump, not the fact that Trump was contradicting his campaign themes of populism and nationalism, and blowing off helpful corrective advice on the matter, even when it came from a high-ranking trusted acquaintance. That is what should disturb Trump supporters, and it is confirmed by his spontaneous answers during the campaign, and now by his WSJ interview on why "we have to have people to come in and work".

How do we square this with his stalwart stance against immigration from shithole countries, or terrorist-prone nations, or ones who are not sending their best? He doesn't seem to think that all foreign countries pose a dangerous level of the corporeal threats of violence, disease, and drugs.

Specifically, East Asia gets the "all clear" when it comes to welcoming hordes of immigrants, as long as they're brought in legally and for work purposes, without having to go on welfare. That would dovetail with the support for "merit-based" immigration, rather than a hardline moratorium.

Of course, "merit" simply means that working and middle-class Americans will have their jobs stolen, incomes undercut, and housing prices bid up by a less criminal group of cheap labor scabs. If some of their neighborhoods, and perhaps entire towns, go from all-American vistas to dystopian Chinese ant colonies -- well, that's just what happens when Americans are no longer willing to bust their ass in order to earn their keep.

If we, too, would work for $5 an hour under slave-like conditions with no benefits and suicide nets ringing our factory, then maybe we wouldn't "have to have people to come in and work".

Any nationalist who thinks that any aspect of American culture will survive colonization by the Chinese is gullible, retarded, or ignorant of their track record. Other than not killing each other at the rates that blacks do, most East Asian groups do not assimilate into Western or American culture, particularly the males, who remain disaffected and bitter at not getting dates from the cute white girls all around them.

The Japanese have done better at becoming Western, both in Japan and outside, but that's not who the corporate slave-drivers are going to be bringing into this country as guest workers. No cheap labor to be found in that rich country.

By viewing immigration largely through the lens of "how to import cheap labor to benefit corporate profits," Trump is right at home with the GOP orthodoxy, unlike his stances on most other issues. But as we've seen so far, the only action the government has gotten is on the tiny areas of overlap between the insurgent and the Establishment -- cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations, bloating the military budget, and getting conservative judges into the courts.

Unfortunately that means there's a high probability that a mass amnesty is headed our way sometime during his term, whether for just the DACA people or all illegals. We might get some alleviation by seeing Haitians deported, MS-13 prosecuted more fervently, and some Muslim nations kept out. But the vast majority of immigrants who are mere job thieves and culture wreckers will pass through those filters, and will likely continue to flood the country through legal immigration, not to mention receive amnesty if they're already here illegally.

Since the overwhelming force bringing in immigrants is cheap labor, we're going to have to rely more on a Democrat populist to keep foreigners out, starting with mandatory E-Verify. Their grassroots are more focused on class threats, rather than the corporeal threats that disturb conservatives, and their elite sectors are not labor-intensive and therefore not so reliant on cheap labor, compared to the labor-intensive sectors that control the GOP.

That seems like the direction that nationalists must begin to frame the immigration restriction argument in -- preventing the working and middle class in America from getting their incomes undercut and their housing prices bid up by cheap foreign labor. That will keep out most of the immigrants, it will appeal to Democrats and Independents (especially the Bernie-supporting populists who are the wave of the future), and it will help Moderates accept it without being tied to conservative appeals about corporeal threats.


  1. Re-reading the Foxconn description, their illegal immigrant workers might not be Asian but Hispanic or something else.

    The view of only dozens of Asian faces amidst a larger sea of non-Asian faces suggests the unskilled workers are illegals from Central America or some other major source.

  2. Deleted a white nationalist / identitarian derail comment.

    Stay roughly on topic.

    The topic is native vs. foreign workers as the beneficiaries of these "companies that are coming into" the country.

    Everyone assumes they will be native workers, and are debating other points -- is it worth the corporate welfare to land a jobs magnet for Americans, etc.?

    But it turns out that Foxconn will be employing foreigners, not Americans.

    Chrysler just announced it's moving a plant back to Michigan, from its current spot in Mexico. After the Foxconn expose, we must always ask -- who's going to get those jobs?

    Maybe Chrysler will be bringing in H-1B's and other guest workers to the Michigan plant, rather than hiring Americans from Michigan. Perhaps the same Mexican workers who were at the old location, will get work visas and continue doing their jobs, only up in Michigan rather than Mexico.

    The greedy corporations are hard at work trying to use the "Trump agenda" as a Trojan Horse for foreigners to replace Americans in the good-paying sectors of the economy like manufacturing.


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