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America’s Growing Labor Shortage Lack of workers in ag and construction is hurting the economy.

President Trump approved the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, and good for him, but will there be enough workers to build it? That’s a serious question. Many American employers, especially in construction and agriculture, are facing labor shortages that would be exacerbated by restrictionist immigration policies.

Demographic trends coupled with a skills mismatch have resulted in a frustrating economic paradox: Millions of workers are underemployed even as millions of jobs go unfilled. The U.S. workforce is also graying, presenting a challenge for industries that entail manual labor.

Construction is ground zero in the worker shortage. Many hard-hats who lost their jobs during the recession left the labor force. Some found high-paying work in fossil fuels during the fracking boom and then migrated to renewables when oil prices tumbled. While construction has rebounded, many employed in the industry a decade ago are no longer there.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 150,000 unfilled construction jobs across the country, nearly double the number five years ago. The shortage is particularly acute in metro areas like Miami, Dallas and Denver, and the worker shortage is delaying projects and raising costs.

A January survey by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 73% of firms had a hard time finding qualified workers. More firms identified worker shortages as a big concern (55%) than any other issue including federal regulations (41%) and lack of infrastructure investment (18%). Demand and salaries for subcontractors (e.g., carpentry and bricklaying) are going through the roof.

On the current demographic course, the shortage will worsen. The average age of construction equipment operators and highway maintenance workers is 46. When middle-aged workers retire, there won’t be many young bodies to replace them. Most high schools have dropped vocational training, and more young people are enrolling in colleges that don’t teach technical skills.

The farm labor shortage is also growing, which has caused tens of millions of dollars worth of crops to rot in the fields. Farmers can’t get enough H-2A visas for foreign guest workers, some of whom have migrated to higher-paying occupations. Workers also often arrive late due to visa processing delays by the Labor Department. The undocumented workforce has shrunk as more Mexicans have left the country than have arrived in recent years.

The Western Growers Association reports that crews are running 20% short on average. Boosting wages and benefits—many employers pay $15 an hour with 401(k)s and paid vacation—has been little help. Instead, employers are cannibalizing one another’s farms. In 2015 the country’s largest lemon grower Limoneira raised wages to $16 per hour, boosted retirement benefits by 20% and offered subsidized housing. But now vineyards in Napa are poaching workers from growers in California’s Central Valley by paying even more.

Some restrictionists claim that cheap foreign labor is hurting low-skilled U.S. workers, but there’s little evidence for that. One Napa grower recently told the Los Angeles Times that paying even $20 an hour wasn’t enough to keep native workers on the farm.

A new paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that terminating the Bracero program, which admitted seasonal farm workers from Mexico during the 1940s and ’50s, did not raise wages of domestic workers. Meantime, a 2014 study found that Arizona’s E-Verify mandate on employers reduced “employment opportunities among some low-skilled legal workers.”

Sanctuary Cities Choose Criminals Over Citizens City governments vow to protect even violent predators in defiance of Trump administration. March 29, 2017 Joseph Klein


Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned on Monday that sanctuary jurisdictions risked losing federal grants if they persisted in obstructing the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Billions of dollars in federal law enforcement funding are at stake. “I urge the nation’s states and cities to carefully consider the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Countless Americans would be alive today and countless loved ones would not be grieving today if these policies of sanctuary cities were ended.”

Instead of heeding the Attorney General’s sound advice and taking care of their own citizens, city officials around the country are planning to sabotage federal law enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.

“We are going to become this administration’s worst nightmare,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. On the same day that Attorney General Sessions issued his warning, she hosted a meeting with like-minded officials from other sanctuary cities, including San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, and Philadelphia, who prioritize the welfare of illegal immigrants over their own citizens. Ms. Mark-Viverito and her comrades threatened to block access by federal immigration authorities to city property and to city records that could help with the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. They are acting in the spirit of Alabama’s late Governor George Wallace, who stood in the schoolhouse door to defy federal enforcement of desegregation.

“The Trump Administration is pushing an unrealistic and mean spirited executive order,” tweeted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Spare us the tears, Mr. Mayor. We are not talking about innocent children caught up in vindictive mass deportation sweeps. Rather, President Trump’s so-called “mean-spirited executive order” is intended to rid this country of fiends like Estivan Rafael Marques Velasquez, a gang member from El Salvador with a criminal record, who was released from Rikers Island this year onto the streets of New York before U.S. officers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit could pick him up for deportation proceedings. And there is Luis Alejandro Villegas, 31, who was released from local custody on Dec. 31, 2016, despite a detainer request from ICE. Villegas had previously been removed from the United States and has a prior conviction for forcible theft armed with a deadly weapon.

“Villegas is a criminal alien who was released back into our New York communities, posing an increased and unnecessary risk to those who live in this great city,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in New York.

Fortunately, ICE agents were able to catch up with both Velasquez and Villegas on their own and place them into federal custody. If de Blasio has his way, we may not be so lucky next time. In the New York City suburb of Hempstead, two women and a 2-year old girl ran out of luck. A MS-13 street gang member, who had been deported back to El Salvador from the U.S. four times and had a number of prior arrests, stabbed the women and sexually assaulted the little girl.

The Travel Ban Is about Vetting — Which Means It’s about Islam Because the United States is in a defensive war against sharia supremacism. By Andrew C. McCarthy

It is not about the executive orders. When it comes to protecting the United States from the threats posed by radical Islam, it has never been about President Donald Trump’s executive orders: the first one that was torpedoed by the radical judiciary in January, and the new and improved version that was suspended this week — the Lawyer Left having conveniently managed to shop its challenge to Barack Obama’s fellow Hawaiian and Harvard Law School classmate Judge Derrick Watson.

The issue is vetting. Each executive order was conceived as a temporary step, a “hold in place” measure while the permanent solution, vetting, was carefully crafted and ultimately implemented.

Now, just as the Left hoped, the temporary step has not only overwhelmed the permanent solution. It has made the permanent solution much more difficult — perhaps impossible — to achieve.

The president’s first order was not invalidated because it was invalid. It was invalidated by an outrageous political maneuver disguised as a judicial decision by the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court. Yet government lawyers — especially the law-and-order, have-faith-in-the-system types — can’t help themselves. They see litigation as a high-minded chess game, winnable by reasoned strategy: Look at what the court said the infirmities were, address them, and then take another crack at persuading the tribunal.

But that’s not the game being played by the Ninth Circuit and the many progressive activists among the 300-odd lawyers President Obama placed on the federal bench (that’s life tenure, boys and girls). They are about winning the war, not the skirmish.

The Ninth Circuit struck down the first executive not order because it transgressed the theoretical constitutional rights of lawful permanent-resident aliens, immigrant visa holders, or state universities. The judges struck it down because they are the political Left. This had nothing to do with law. The Left has a policy objection to the notion of subjecting Muslims to heightened immigration scrutiny, because it has a policy objection to government recognition of the nexus between Islamic scripture and terrorism committed by Muslims.

For the Left, the law is not a corpus of constitutional and statutory principles to be applied. It is a pliable weapon for achieving policy goals, enabling will-to-power to masquerade as a “legal process.”

No tweaking of an executive order will overcome that.

Obama Judge Blocks Trump’s New Travel Order History is repeating itself, unfortunately. Matthew Vadum

President Trump’s new, narrowly tailored temporary ban on travel from select countries plagued by Islamic terrorism was put on hold at the eleventh hour yesterday by the latest in a series of soft-headed, left-wing federal judges determined to sabotage presidential efforts to secure the nation’s borders.

Lawyer Justin Cox of the George Soros-funded National Immigration Law Center, hailed the ruling, saying the judge in this case found that “the primary purpose of the executive order is to discriminate against Muslims.”

The temporary travel ban is “a shaming device” and “a dehumanizing device” that “perpetuates this myth, this damaging stereotype of Muslims as terrorists.”

Trump vowed to fight on at a high-energy rally in Nashville, saying the ruling was “terrible” and suggested it was “done by a judge for political reasons.” This was “an unprecedented judicial overreach,” he said, adding he would take the legal case “as far as it needs to go,” including the Supreme Court. “The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear.”

Trump critics like Cox deride the new executive order, falsely claiming it is a “Muslim ban,” even though it leaves out the vast majority of Muslim-majority countries on earth. Even if it did single out Muslims, it should still survive constitutional scrutiny, many legal experts say. The Constitution’s prohibition of so-called religious tests doesn’t apply to immigration policy, which is why no one raised a fuss during the Cold War when the U.S. set aside visas specifically for Soviet Jews escaping religious persecution.

And to make all of this even worse, it turns out the lawsuit ruled on yesterday was brought by a foreign-born Muslim cleric with ties to the international terrorist underworld. More on that in a moment.

The legal proceeding arose out of President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 which would have temporarily prevented visas from being issued to individuals from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria to provide the government with an opportunity to implement Trump’s “extreme vetting” measures aimed at weeding out visa applicants who pose a threat to U.S. national security. The order was also to suspend refugee processing for 120 days. The new order differs from Trump’s previous, broader directive, Executive Order 13769, also enjoined by the courts, “in that it omitted Iraq from the list of affected countries, did not affect any current visa or green-card holders and spelled out a robust list of people who might be able to apply for exceptions,” according to a Washington Post summary.

To no one’s surprise, the judicial officer usurping the powers of both the executive and legislative branches of the government, Honolulu-based U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Kahala Watson, was appointed to his post by President Obama in 2013. Federal judges in Washington state and Maryland are also expected to rule on EO 13780 soon.

Schumer Threatens Government Shutdown Over Border Wall Democrats flip sides on legislative tactics. Matthew Vadum

After Democratic lawmakers’ years of shrieking and televised temper tantrums over how shutting down the federal government somehow approximates treason, Democrats have suddenly embraced the tactic in their quest to keep the nation’s borders wide open for Muslim terrorists and illegal aliens.

Democrats are threatening to force a shut-down of the government after it runs out of operating funds after April 28.

Outnumbered in both houses of Congress, and facing a Republican in the White House for the first time in eight years, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats say they will oppose efforts to finance President Trump’s planned border wall in spending legislation needed to keep the government open for business. Adding favored projects to must-pass spending bills, instead of dealing with the projects as freestanding legislation outside the budget process, is a time-honored way of getting things done in Congress. Both parties do it when in the majority.

But Schumer is now a professional obstructionist committed to undermining the Trump administration so at long last he sees things differently.

“The border wall is impractical and unpopular,” said Schumer on Sunday, “a pointless burden that this administration is trying to pay for by taking money away from the programs that actually keep Americans safe.”‎

Democrats wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Senate leaders warning that they will throw a wrench into efforts to appropriate funds for wall construction if the request is wrapped inside in a spending measure needed to keep the government’s doors open beyond April 28.

“Given these and other concerns, we believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration,” the Democrats wrote.

Crime and Immigration The U.S. needs to deport criminals, not create a new bureaucracy.

President Trump has made crime a big part of his immigration enforcement campaign, last month unveiling a new immigration-crime victims unit at the Justice Department. We understand the emotive political appeal, but the federal government doesn’t need a new bureaucracy given the facts about immigrant crime.

Mr. Trump highlighted the murder victims of undocumented immigrants “whose government failed them.” He’s right about that, and it’s exasperating that foreign criminals are released onto the streets only to perpetrate more violence. But there’s no evidence that immigrants commit more crimes than do native-born citizens and some to suggest they commit less.

In a newly published paper, researchers at the University at Buffalo and University of Alabama examined 200 metropolitan areas between 1970 and 2010. They found that murder, robbery, burglary and larceny rates decreased as immigration increased. A recent meta-analysis of 50 studies published between 1994 and 2014 concluded that cities with larger immigrant populations have lower crime rates.

Copious research also indicates that immigrants are less crime-prone than native-born Americans. A 2012 study observed that “foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their lifetime,” though the second generation “caught up” to their native-born counterparts.

A 2005 analysis of 180 Chicago neighborhoods between 1995 and 2002 found that first-generation immigrants demonstrated significantly lower rates of violence than blacks and whites and that their “odds of violence are almost half those of third-generation immigrants.” At least on crime, immigrant families are assimilating too much.

The Chicago study (and some others) discovered a robust link between “concentrated immigration” and lower crime. So whites and blacks who live in communities with more immigrants are less likely to experience crime. Researchers suggest that immigrants may be less criminal because they have strong family bonds and work ethic, which is underscored by their higher labor participation rate. Immigrants washing dishes probably aren’t committing crimes in their down time.

The anecdotes Mr. Trump cites result mainly from failures in federal and local law enforcement as well as overreaching court rulings. Between 2013 and 2015, about 8,000 convicted criminals were released as a result of the Supreme Court’s Zadvydas v. Davis in 2001 that prohibited Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from indefinitely detaining immigrants.

Federal courts have also ruled that detention orders are not mandatory, and local governments can refuse to enforce them. Municipalities have even been sued for not releasing immigrants on bond. Foreign governments are often uncooperative, and the State Department could stop issuing visas to countries that don’t repatriate their criminals.

Local governments have also resisted cooperation when they believe ICE is indiscriminately rounding up undocumented immigrants. Notably, local cooperation increased when the Obama Administration prioritized removing criminal immigrants. Former ICE director Sarah Saldana told Congress last year that “more than half of previously uncooperative jurisdictions are now cooperating.”

This evidence suggests that the Trump Administration would better protect Americans by focusing on immigrants who commit serious crimes, not anyone here on an illegal document. Trying to round up everyone, or creating a needless bureaucracy, will mean fewer resources for deporting dangerous criminals.

Trump’s VOICE against Sanctuary Cities A registry of illegal-immigrant crime will bring home the need to rein in ‘sanctuary cities.’ By John Fonte

I respectfully disagree with the National Review editors’ comments, following President Trump’s address to Congress, that creation of a new unit in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focused on the victims of illegal-immigrant crime “would serve no good purpose.” Actually, the office would serve several good purposes that are directly related to immigration policy, politics, and civic morality.

The “Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens,” now called “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE),” was created by an executive order on immigration enforcement on January 25 and enhanced in a memorandum by DHS secretary John Kelly on February 20. VOICE is a very appropriate name for this office. For years American families victimized by illegal aliens have been ignored. Because of the misuse of “privacy” rules and indifference, they have been unable to find out whether the criminals who attacked their family members were in the country legally or illegally, or even whether the aliens were incarcerated, deported, or set free.

Secretary Kelly’s memo stated that “criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans. . . . Often, these victims are not provided adequate information about the offender, the offender’s immigration status, or any enforcement action taken by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] against the offender . . . leaving victims feeling marginalized and without a voice.” The DHS memo declared that the new office would create a liaison with the victims and provide information including the “offender’s immigration status and custody status.” Funds for VOICE would be reallocated from “resources that are currently used to advocate on behalf of illegal aliens,” an Obama initiative, which would be “immediately” terminated. Thus, no major new bureaucracy would be created.

It is to Donald Trump’s credit that he has done what no other presidential candidate, or major American political figure, has ever done, by championing these unfashionable and (for many) inconvenient victims of illegal-immigrant crime (inconvenient because they muddy the dominant media narrative). In contrast to Trump, when the family members of Americans killed by illegal aliens testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the summer of 2015, Senators Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) fled the hearing room and returned only after the families had gone. As Mark Krikorian explained, these Americans are “all dead because federal, state, and local governments have abdicated their responsibility to protect American citizens from foreign criminals.”

Trump Immigration Executive Orders are Already Working Illegal border crossings drop an astounding 40% in one month. Joseph Klein

A statement issued by Homeland Security Secretary Jack Kelly, concerning data compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, noted that there has been a marked decrease in illegal border crossings at the U.S.-Mexican border this year between January and February, “as measured by apprehensions and the prevention of inadmissible persons at our southern border.” In January there were 31,578 apprehensions, while in February there were 18,762. This 40 percent drop is in contrast to previous year comparisons of January and February, during which there had been a 10-20 percent increase in apprehensions of illegal immigrants.

The trend is in the right direction, even without the border wall already in place that President Trump promised during the campaign. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data cited by Homeland Security Secretary Kelly, “in the period from Oct 1, 2016 to the Presidential inauguration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 157,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants – a 35 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, with family units increasing by more than 100 percent. However, since President Trump took office on January 20, we have seen a dramatic drop in numbers.”

Some of the decline may be due to seasonal factors. However, more robust enforcement in the wake of President Trump’s issuance of two executive orders intended to boost such enforcement of the nation’s existing immigration laws are clearly having a deterrent effect. Since the Trump administration’s implementation of these executive orders, according to Secretary Kelly, we are seeing apprehensions and the turning away of inadmissible persons at our southern border “trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years.”

What makes the robust enforcement regime introduced by President Trump’s executive orders even more effective is the termination of the practice commonly known as “catch and release,” whereby illegal immigrants have been routinely released in the United States shortly after their apprehension for violations of immigration law. Thus, illegal immigrant traffic is slowing due to the deterrent effect of more rigorous enforcement, while those caught having entered the country illegally are not allowed to simply roam free pending their immigration hearings.

Khan Job? Khizr Khan claims his ‘travel privileges are being reviewed.’ Michael Cutler

Khizr Khan first rose to national prominence when he verbally attacked Donald Trump during the Democratic National Convention stating that Trump had sacrificed nothing and questioned whether Trump had ever read the Constitution. We will discuss the Constitution at the conclusion of my commentary.

Khan is a Harvard educated lawyer whose son Humayun Khan, a captain in the U.S. Army died in Iraq in 2004. He had graduated from the University of Virginia.

Khizr Khan has accused President Trump of discriminating against Muslims and once again, made headlines when Ramsay Talks, the speakers bureau who purportedly had arranged a speaking engagement in Toronto for Khan, posted a notice that a March 7 speaking event was cancelled blaming a purported notification that his “travel privileges are being reviewed”:

Khizr Khan Event Cancelation:

Late Sunday evening Khizr Khan, an American citizen for over 30 years, was notified that his travel privileges are being reviewed. As a consequence, Mr. Khan will not be traveling to Toronto on March 7th to speak about tolerance, understanding, unity and the rule of law. Very regretfully, Ramsay Talks must cancel its luncheon with Mr. Khan.

Guests will be given full refunds.

Mr. Khan offered his sincere apologies to all those who made plans to attend on March 7th. He said: “This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all omg fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad. I have not been given any reason as to why. I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future.

Trump’s Revised Travel Ban is Just One of Many Good Developments in the War against Jihadists This administration is taking a much smarter, tougher approach to terror than the last one did. By David French

It’s hard to see through the thick fog of reckless tweeting and nonstop media outrage, but the good news is out there. The Trump administration is already making several fundamental, positive changes in the war against jihadists, of which its revised travel ban is arguably the least important. Consider these news items:

American forces have launched 40 strikes in the last week against al-Qaeda forces in Yemen. Under the Obama administration, our operational peak in Yemen was 41 strikes in an entire year.

Yesterday, Iraqi forces recaptured a key bridge in Mosul, as they continue to advance deeper into the last remaining ISIS-held areas. This progress comes on the heels of long-awaited and long-overdue changes in the rules of engagement governing American forces in Iraq, which placed American troops closer to the action and streamlined requests for American firepower.

At the same time, after Trump scrapped the Obama administration’s go-slow approach to taking Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria, the Pentagon appears set to recommend a plan that will call for significant American military participation, including special forces, artillery, and attack helicopters.

Finally, the revised travel ban is intelligently targeted, excludes our ally Iraq, and preserves the reasonable virtues of the first ban while eliminating the confusion that led to its arbitrary, cruel, and obviously incompetent implementation. In the wake of news that up to 300 refugees are reportedly under investigation for terror ties, it’s prudent to pause refugee entry for a few months to review our vetting processes. There is no reason for the Trump administration to simply trust that the Obama administration struck the right balance between security and compassion.

To understand the collective importance of these measures, it’s vital to understand the basics of how the terror threat actually manifests itself. All the recent talk of “lone wolves” in many ways exaggerates the threat of the individual while minimizing the importance of terrorist organizations.

There are a few terrorists who are truly self-radicalizing, but dig deeper into any given terror attack and the chances are you’ll find not just warning signs in the form of obvious inspiration from ISIS or other terror attacks, but also actual communication with terrorists abroad. In a brilliant piece of reporting last month, the New York Times’s Rukmini Callimachus detailed ISIS’s direction and enabling of terror attacks abroad from Syria, including attempted attacks on the United States.

In other words, while there might be some tiny number of terrorists who need no inspiration for terror beyond their own readings of the Koran and the Hadith (along with deep rage or a sense of grievance springing from contemporary events), for terrorism to be a significant threat, it needs not just a willing or potentially willing population but also a concrete source of inspiration and direction.