Unauthorized immigration into the US and offshoring of American jobs out of the US are two different ways to do the same thing—drive down wages and escape U.S. labor law.
So I’m not surprised that Bernie Sanders said the following in an interview.
Ezra Klein: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing …
Bernie Sanders: Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.
Ezra Klein: Really?
Ezra Klein: But it would make …
Bernie Sanders: Excuse me …
Ezra Klein: It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?
Bernie Sanders: It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.
You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?
I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.
Ezra Klein: Then what are the responsibilities that we have? Someone who is poor by US standards is quite well off by, say, Malaysian standards, so if the calculation goes so easily to the benefit of the person in the US, how do we think about that responsibility?
We have a nation-state structure. I agree on that. But philosophically, the question is how do you weight it? How do you think about what the foreign aid budget should be? How do you think about poverty abroad?
Bernie Sanders: I do weigh it. As a United States senator in Vermont, my first obligation is to make certain kids in my state and kids all over this country have the ability to go to college, which is why I am supporting tuition-free public colleges and universities. I believe we should create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and ask the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes. I believe we should raise the minimum wage to at least 15 bucks an hour so people in this county are not living in poverty. I think we end the disgrace of some 20 percent of our kids living in poverty in America. Now, how do you do that?
What you do is understand there’s been a huge redistribution of wealth in the last 30 years from the middle class to the top tenth of 1 percent. The other thing that you understand globally is a horrendous imbalance in terms of wealth in the world. As I mentioned earlier, the top 1 percent will own more than the bottom 99 percent in a year or so. That’s absurd. That takes you to programs like the IMF and so forth and so on.
But I think what we need to be doing as a global economy is making sure that people in poor countries have decent-paying jobs, have education, have health care, have nutrition for their people. That is a moral responsibility, but you don’t do that, as some would suggest, by lowering the standard of American workers, which has already gone down very significantly.
Bernie Sanders is correct that the billionaire Koch brothers, whose funding of libertarian and conservative movements has helped pull the US to the right, are supporters of open borders.
I agree with him that the solution to world poverty is social justice and economic productivity in poor countries and I would add that movements to do that are often thwarted by the U.S. government.
He is right that unrestricted immigration makes it difficult for a nation to preserve its cultural identity and also its social safety net.
The situation that we have now is millions of unauthorized immigrants in the United States, outside the protection of American law, who can be exploited and abused with impunity. The US may not have completely open borders, but it most certainly does not have closed borders.
I don’t think it is feasible to completely close the borders or to deport the millions of unauthorized immigrants already here, short of creating a police state and making a national effort equivalent to all-out war—which I do not advocate.
So the best answer—or least bad answer—is to give unauthorized immigrants a feasible path to citizenship, and give them the same protection of U.S. law that Bernie Sanders’ own immigrant father enjoyed. This means their lack of rights will not be a factor when they complete with American citizens for jobs.
In fact, that is what Sanders supports, and this is not inconsistent with what he said in the Ezra Klein interview. Sanders is not a Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders: The Vox conversation, an interview by Ezra Klein for Vox.
Bernie Sanders explodes a right-wing myth: ‘Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal’ by Travis Gettys for Raw Story.
Okay, “now” Bernie has a race problem by B Psycho for Psychopolitik.
Since I’m generally favorable to Bernie Sanders, I want to mention some things he said in the interview that I don’t agree with. I don’t agree that Iran is a rogue state which had a serious intention to make nuclear weapons that threaten Israel. I don’t agree that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians are based on a fear of Israel being wiped out. And I think he grossly underestimates the degree to which the Democratic leadership, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, are responsible for economic inequality and war policy.