Protesters Object to New Florida Immigration Laws Using Same Old Argument
The end of the world is near warned Florida businesses in 2019, terrified their labor force would disappear. Governor Ron DeSantis had just signed Senate Bill 168, “Federal Immigration Enforcement” prohibiting state and local government sanctuary policies and requiring cooperation between municipalities and federal immigration officials.
Except of course it wasn’t the end. Roads got paved, deliveries were made, and lawns were mowed — even afterwards during the challenging COVID era. Florida’s economy has thrived as the nation’s leader for rising GDP, job growth, low unemployment and higher wages.
Predictably, business interests are repeating that same labor-shortage hysteria as they now oppose Florida’s new laws designed to further reduce the impact of President Biden’s open-border policies. Florida Senate Bill 1718, just signed by Gov. DeSantis, mandates E-Verify for any employer with 25 or more employees, imposes penalties for companies that employ illegal aliens, and enhances penalties for human smuggling. The bill also prohibits local governments from issuing identification cards to illegal aliens, invalidates ID cards issued to illegal aliens in other states, and requires hospitals to collect and submit data on the costs of providing health care to illegal aliens.
In response, business interests and immigrant advocacy groups in the Sunshine State have coordinated their opposition to the new initiatives, fueled by “top-down” messaging from Washington, echoed by major news media:
- President Biden’s economic aides have asserted that “the lack of immigrant workers is leading to national labor shortages.”
- Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced that “there are businesses around this country desperate for workers.”
- A bold headline on CBS News predicted Florida’s tough new immigration law could lead to labor shortages.
- In a recent National Public Radio interview, Florida director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, Samuel Santiago, claimed, “SB 1718 will likely have a significant impact on Florida’s agriculture, construction and hospitality sectors… industries where immigrants make up the vast majority of workers.”
In particular, Mr. Santiago’s talking point is one commonly referenced from the open-borders playbook but there’s a problem; it isn’t the least bit true. His assertion also draws no distinction between legal and illegal immigrant workers – and probably not by accident. The state’s efforts to end the practice of hiring illegal aliens benefits Americans and legal immigrants who work in those sectors of the labor market by improving wages. Good for legal workers, but not the short-term interests of the businesses Mr. Santiago represents.
The Center for Immigration Studies found that “among the 474 separate occupations defined by the Department of Commerce, there are only a handful of majority-immigrant occupations, and none completely dominated by immigrants — legal or illegal. Furthermore, in none of the 474 occupations do illegal immigrants constitute a majority of workers.” Stated another way, native-born Americans already make up the majority of workers in all occupations. As regards the construction industry, a FAIR study reveals 68 percent of those workers are native-born. So much for the “jobs Americans won’t do” trope. That’s really just nonsense spouted by employers desperate to retain and expand their illegal alien labor pool. It’s also a preferred expression instead of “labor shortages” because that suggests a free-market remedy that businesses really want to avoid; increasing wages for Americans until equilibrium between the demand for and supply of jobs is achieved.
Repetition, deception, and volume is always a substitute for logic when presenting flawed arguments, although the tide may be changing even in the oddest of places. The left-leaning Atlantic recently rebutted the labor shortage myth:
Real wages have been falling after a brief bump early in the pandemic. When employers say there isn’t enough labor, what they really mean is that they can’t find enough people willing to work under the terms that they want to offer—and that they’re doing a poor job increasing productivity with the workers they have.
Good jobs that allow workers to support their families and communities can’t be just a hoped-for by-product of a market economy; they must be its purpose.
Amen. That’s one desired and likely outcome of Florida’s immigration reforms which strengthen E-Verify, and expand protections for American workers. It should serve as a commonsense model for 49 other states.