Hawley Op-Ed: The Border Bill’s Assault on American Workers

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

By U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) | Feb. 5, 2024 | Compact Magazine

This week, the Senate is supposedly voting on the biggest immigration overhaul in decades.  That is a polite way of saying that US workers are on the chopping block. The Senate’s “border deal” is a terrible bargain hashed out behind closed doors, one that sells out the American working class in favor of illegal immigrants, the biggest corporations, and Wall Street.  


America’s big corporations want cheap labor. They don’t want to raise wages or improve working conditions. They’d prefer to maintain the status quo of stagnant wages, unsafe workplaces, increasingly oppressive scheduling practices, and countless other harms. They want employees who will work as cheaply as possible, which means they want massive immigration flows—legal and illegal—to continue.

At the heart of the new border bill is a radical idea: legal provisions that, after a quick intake screening, would grant immediate work authorization to individuals requesting asylum. 


If illegal immigrants could get this immediate work authorization—without fear of removal—we can expect a huge influx of migrants claiming asylum purely to get these benefits. Would they ever be heard from again? Doubtful. And second, the bill would allow employers to slash wages for American workers. Why risk employing an American citizen—who might be a member of a union and might insist on fair treatment—when you can hire illegal aliens newly authorized to work? 

Any talk of automatic-shutdown provisions in the bill—that the gates would shut for the day when a few thousand individuals have been processed—is nonsense. Under the bill, the president would retain the power to override any such shutdown, and it is obvious that President Biden would do just that. 


But make no mistake: This bill is, above all, a betrayal of American workers. Congress is poised to hand employers the ultimate anti-worker kryptonite: a shadow army of reserve labor, at the service of companies that have plenty of cash for dividends and stock buybacks, but somehow never enough to pay American workers a fair wage. After decades of flatlining pay and deteriorating protections, American labor deserves better. And a backroom deal like this isn’t merely bad policy—it is insulting. 


Read the entire piece in Compact Magazine.