Eddie Burke

Eddie Burke

Congressional Democrats are still searching for a way to grant amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal aliens — even though the Senate parliamentarian has ruled against their first two plans. It poses an enormous threat to working-class Alaskans. And it’s up to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan to fight the proposal tooth and nail.

Proponents claim this amnesty is compassionate. But there’s nothing caring about allowing millions of people who came to this country illegally to take jobs away from breadwinners and drive down wages across the board.

Consider some labor market statistics for Alaska. Less than 30 percent of workers here have a college degree. They’d have to compete for jobs with the millions of newly legalized workers who suddenly emerged from the shadow economy. In the low-skill sectors where immigrants tend to seek work, employers could pay everyone less because of the increased competition for limited jobs. It’s the ugly side of supply and demand.

Studies show that illegal immigrants undercut the wages of working-class Americans in industries like food processing, janitorial services, and agriculture. In fact, they’re estimated to cost native-born workers between $99 billion and $118 billion every year.

Minority citizens in particular suffer. In 2010, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reported to Congress that the majority of adult Black males have to compete with only a high school diploma or less and that they often lose out to illegal workers. The Commission found illegal immigration limits the wages of Black men, sometimes modestly and sometimes significantly, especially in sectors like construction and meatpacking.

Alaska is a working-class state, and our workers don’t need more competition than they already have. Our hospitality and fishing industries were particularly challenged by the pandemic, and increased immigration into our state would hurt the struggling laborers in these industries.

Don’t misunderstand. Most illegal immigrants work hard and stay out of trouble. But working-class Americans have struggled for decades — isn’t it time to put them first?

The amnesty proposal making its way through Congress would be disastrous for Alaska’s working families. Thousands of Alaskans’ — and millions of Americans’ — paychecks depend on Senators Sullivan and Murkowski defeating this initiative.

Eddie Burke is the former host of the Eddie Burke Show on KOAN in Anchorage. Burke is a Navy veteran, a small business owner and a former candidate for lieutenant governor.

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