We’ll have to wait and see if this comes up at the debates. As I’m sure you all know, the Democrats running for the 2020 nomination are all in a race to prove their woke credentials, and that includes matters related to immigration, both legal and illegal. The standard party line is that all are welcome, open borders, immigrants doing jobs Americans won’t… you know the drill. But when Bernie Sanders sat down this week for an interview with the New York Times editorial board, including editor Nick Fox, he was asked about a previous position he held, once saying that too many foreign workers have the effect of driving down wages. Bernie was quick to point out that the comments in question were ancient history. Ancient? Hey, Bernie… we’re talking about 2015 here. (Free Beacon)
In an interview transcript released on Monday, New York Times editor Nick Fox asked Sanders if he still believed that foreign workers depress wages for Americans. “No,” Sanders responded. “That’s what I said on the Lou Dobbs show 250 years ago, right?”
Sanders made that argument in 2015 on at least two occasions. “What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy,” Sanders said in a Vox interview. “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.”
Sanders reiterated his hawkish immigration views a few days later at a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event, arguing that if “open borders” advocates got their way, it would “substantially lower wages in this country.”
Way back when (less than five years ago) Bernie was going on television and complaining about “open borders advocates.” That’s not going to go over very well with the actual open borders advocates in the Democratic base and the ones running against him for the nomination. If immigration is a topic that’s covered during this debate, don’t be surprised if Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg start a dogpile on him by resurrecting those comments.
The funny part is that while Sanders was blowing off the old quote by saying it was “250 years ago,” he went on to make essentially the exact same point to editorial board member Binyamin Appelbaum. Sanders “clarified” his position by saying the exploitation of illegal immigrants results in lower wages for domestic workers. “If you’re undocumented, and you’re being paid five bucks an hour, why am I going to pay her $12 an hour?”
This seemed to stump Appelbaum, who said, “You just said that again. So, I’m confused about what has changed about your position.” This led to a back and forth debate over whether illegal aliens drive down wages, with Sanders continuing to insist that they do. In other words, after starting off by saying that his comments from 2015 were ancient history (implying that he no longer feels that way), Bernie went on to prove that his position hadn’t changed at all.
This is an unusual slipup for Bernie Sanders. He’s usually pretty sharp on the campaign trail, leaving the gaffes and “senior moments” to Joe Biden. But he stuck his foot in his mouth this time, leaving an opening for his opponents.
The irony here is that Bernie’s position is actually the correct one. Competition for lower-skill jobs is one of only many reasons to oppose immigration. Unfortunately for Bernie Sanders, that puts him squarely outside the Democratic base on this issue.