It was only after I finished speaking to the March for Jobs crowd in a park across the street from the Gang-of-Eight-controlled Senate that I realized I had failed in my little speech to use the most obvious issue of today:
I should have told all the people waving signs in the crowd that I saw them as Americans from all over the country who were taking on miserable, sweaty, dehydrating conditions as a sign of solidarity with everybody in this country who accepts those conditions as a regular part of their jobs making the lives of the rest of us more comfortable.
What kind of conditions today?
Every citizen and every congressional, religious, civil rights and activist speaker today who was protesting the Gang of Eight's war on American workers was operating under a glaring sun in a heat index over 100.
We were sweltering.
If I weren't afraid of more burn on the top of my thin-haired head, I would take my cap off to all the Americans who blocked Pennsylvania Avenue for a half-hour hike from near the White House to the top of Capitol Hill and then intently listened to nearly four hours of speeches on behalf of struggling U.S. workers. I hope all of you will feel that these people were sweating as visible proxies for ALL of you who object to Congress trying to further flood our nation's labor pools with tens of millions more foreign workers.
As I stepped from the stage and moved quickly to find some shade, the thought hit me a little too late: So many Americans across the country at this very moment were WORKING in these conditions. They do their jobs in construction, hospitality, other service and manufacturing in outdoor conditions like this and similarly tough conditions indoors.
Here's the reality for our fellow Americans who work in those kinds of jobs:
- For three decades, declines in real wages for occupations of most Americans without college.
- Highest unemployment, by far, for these workers.
But the Gang of Eight mentality in the Senate is -- incredibly -- that apparently these Americans should be paid less. Why else would they make the decision to require massive increases in foreign workers to compete for those jobs?
After 22 years of working full-time on this issues, I still can't understand how the elites in their air-conditioning and comfy lifestyles can insist that the tougher the job the lower the pay should be. The elites of editorial writers and the religious leaders and the political brokers and the business lobbyists and even the union chiefs first declare that certain jobs are too tough for Americans to be willing to do and then loosen the labor markets with more foreign workers to ensure that all the Americans who actually want and DO those jobs will be paid less and be less attracted to them!
A tighter labor market without new foreign workers would begin to push up wages and improve working conditions for the Americans who do the hottest, toughest or most tedious jobs in the country. One speaker after another today blasted and shamed the Senate for opposing improved wages for Americans doing essential work. Now, the U.S. House of Representatives must decide if the Senate was correct in deciding to offer more than 30 million new work permits in the next decade, most of them to foreign citizens with education and skills that suggest they will be competing most heavily with Americans with the toughest jobs and the lowest wages.
Many thanks to the Black American Leadership Alliance that organized this march on fairly short notice to provide a strong, visible manifestation on Capitol Hill of the fact that Americans who don't have to work in tough conditions -- or who don't have to worry about finding a job, or who don't have to raise families on declining wages -- are out there willing to stand up for those Americans who do.
And the people who disproportionately were supported by the crowd today are the Black and Hispanic Americans who suffer extraordinary poverty because of especially high unemployment and low wages.
As if on cue, though, the groups on left and right who fight for every open-border proposal labeled today's event by the Black American Leadership Alliance as an effort to pit "people of color" against each other. Any time a Black American speaks up against high immigration, he/she is accused of something like that. But I don't recall any speaker -- Black, White or Latino -- suggesting that any American of any color or national origin should be pitted against each other.
Instead, the speakers today called on all of us to stand up for all Americans and their ability to get a job and to earn a fair wage without the U.S. Congress putting their thumbs on the Scales of Economic Justice to tip them in favor of the greediest among us.
Back in my air-conditioned office, I find myself a little over-heated in my anger at all the people with the heavy thumbs who would disparage the compassionate people "marching for jobs" today.
ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA