Accuracy in Media

Michael Lind says journalists do not oppose illegal immigration because they benefit from it. Lind, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, said journalists belong to an affluent class in America that employs immigrant maids, nannies and gardeners. “People like me are the great beneficiaries of this,” he said “There’s a buyers’ market in inexpensive unskilled labor?” He said there used to be a time when you had to be wealthy to afford such help. But more and more people in higher paying jobs can now afford to hire immigrants who will work for below the minimum wage.

Citing a New York Times story that claimed immigration enriched the U.S. economy to the tune of $10 billion, Lind said the paper was really emphasizing how a huge and growing pool of unskilled labor was of economic benefit to some people. “It tells you something about the class bias of our media,” he said.

Lind explained, “I’ve been in journalism for most of the past two decades. Most journalists, most editors, most TV producers are employers of immigrant labor. If they married they have a nanny who comes part of the time. They have gardeners, they have maids and so on. So they belong to the top 5 or ten percent of the United States whose entire lifestyle depends on the supply of cheap labor.” He said people in this class tend to eat out a lot, and so they also benefit from immigrants working in restaurants and hotels. If trends continue, he said “before long ? another decade or two — I should be able to afford my own butler [and] my own chauffeur?”

Lind was speaking at a conference organized by the Center for Immigration studies. Another speaker, Robert Suro of the Pew Hispanic Center, agreed in part, saying the U.S. has a tremendous appetite for low-wage, low-skilled immigrant workers. The demand for cheap labor stimulates people to come here. But he said the number of those who function as household servants is small compared to those in other sectors such as manufacturing and construction. He said, “They’re building houses, producing garments, building furniture. They’re not basically cleaning up after us.”

Lind said those who suffer from this arrangement are Americans with little education who are trying to get by on the minimum wage but are losing jobs to the immigrants who will work for even less. A new report on immigration from Northeastern University confirms that the entry of many poorly educated immigrants into the workforce has held back wages of the lowest-paid American-born workers

Lind, a liberal himself, noted that a hero of the American labor movement , Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers, campaigned to keep Mexican immigrants out of the U.S. because they were putting downward pressure on the wages of the Mexican-American members of his union. Chavez even volunteered members of his staff to patrol the southern border to keep them out. There were even reports of UFW members establishing a “Wet line” and physically attacking illegal workers crossing the border. Today, the AFL-CIO supports an amnesty for illegal aliens and wants to make them union members.

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