Congressional Democrats are trying to pass the biggest immigration amnesty in decades on a strict party-line vote, using the “budget reconciliation” process to deny Republicans any say in the matter. The proposal could offer citizenship — and work permits — to millions of people who illegally crossed the border or overstayed their visas.
Hidden in the massive three-and-a-half trillion dollar spending bill, this amnesty would harm working-class Americans here in West Virginia and across the nation. Fortunately, the Senate is evenly divided. If even one Senate Democrat dissents, the amnesty push will fail.
In other words, our own Joe Manchin can singlehandedly stop this plan and protect West Virginians’ jobs and livelihoods.
It’s been a rough year and a half since Covid-19 arrived on U.S. shores. The subsequent recession has had its own impact on West Virginia, with about 13 percent of our jobs in categories that were highly vulnerable to the crisis, including in leisure and hospitality.
West Virginia and the country as a whole still have an economic hill to climb in our recovery from the pandemic. As unemployment benefits run out, the wide-open labor market we have right now will likely quickly fill once again. Protecting West Virginia jobs for West Virginians should be a top priority for our elected officials. A wide-sweeping amnesty like what is proposed will only threaten our state’s workers. We need to put Americans first.
Our state’s working families need help, and an immigration amnesty would do just the opposite. Along with offering legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants, it would create even more incentives for those to come to America illegally. What that means, ultimately, is far more people would soon be competing for U.S. and ultimately West Virginia jobs.
An influx of job seekers into these sectors will likely mean lower wages or more Americans out of work. The impact could be devastating for countless working West Virginia families, where around three-quarters of the workforce does not have a college degree. Our poverty rate sits at 16 percent, higher than the national rate. And even before the pandemic, job growth was a meager 0.1 percent, well below 1.2 percent nationwide. We need more opportunities for our own citizens, not more workers from overseas or south of the border.
Senator Manchin claims he has been a voice of common sense for West Virginia. This is his opportunity to prove it. By voting against amnesty, he could make a real difference and put West Virginians first. Senator Manchin, I’m calling on you to oppose the Left’s reckless plan to push immigration amnesty on the American people.
Clare Ath is the Jefferson County Commissioner representing Charles Town and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy at Liberty University.