DEAR EDITOR:

Georgians have made monumental sacrifices since the coronavirus came ashore. During the lockdown, many saw their hours and incomes decline dramatically. Others lost their jobs. Virtually everyone worried about paying their bills.

Over six months later, prospects are beginning to brighten. The Georgia Department of Labor recently announced that the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6% in August, down two full points from the previous month (it went up by 0.7% in September).

These gains remain delicate, of course. That's why it's so puzzling that Democrat politicians, including U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, are pushing for an unprecedented expansion of immigration. On the campaign trail, these politicians talk about standing up for workers -- yet their policies would make it harder for Georgians and all Americans to find good jobs.

The Democratic presidential ticket, which enjoys Jon Ossoff's enthusiastic support, has pledged a radical expansion of legal immigration. America already admitted over 1 million legal immigrants every year, before COVID-19 struck.

The problem for American workers comes down to simple supply and demand. As the supply of cheap foreign-born workers rises under these new policies, businesses can get away with paying Americans -- foreign and native alike -- dramatically lower.

This is basic economics. And it has been borne out in practice. Harvard researcher George Borjas estimates that when the number of workers in a given field increases by 10%, wages for workers in that field tend to decrease by at least 3%.

Crucially, this dynamic is by no means limited to low-skilled labor.

Temporary guest worker programs already enable hundreds of thousands of foreign workers to compete with Americans for more specialized jobs. The largest such program, H-1B, accounted for almost 190,000 foreign workers last year alone.

In theory, these programs are designed to allow large companies to bring in the best and brightest from abroad. But it almost never works this way.

Indeed, the H-1B program has historically not required companies to certify that they tried unsuccessfully to hire an American worker. The result has been a veritable explosion of large firms -- Big Tech, in particular -- recruiting cheaper foreign labor. While that's great for profits and shareholder returns, it's terrible for everyday workers.

In 2015, Southern California Edison Co. laid off hundreds of employees and replaced them with tech specialists from India brought in on H-1B visas. Adding insult to injury, many were forced to train their replacements. A similar story played out with Walt Disney employees. Stories like this abound.

On a national scale, massive influxes of foreign, highly skilled labor compete with technically educated American workers, driving down wages and making it more difficult to find a job in the first place. To take just one example, competition from H-1B workers depressed employment for American computer scientists by as much as 10% from 1990 to 2001, according to one recent study. And it depressed Americans' wages by as much as 5%.

Democratic leaders are committed to making this bad situation even worse. Joe Biden wants to scrap the temporary nature of the H-1B program and exclude those with PhDs from being counted against the statutory cap. Such policies would usher in a new era of foreign-born competition for hard-working, middle-class families. And in the process, such policies would exacerbate inequality.

Whatever happens in the race for the White House, this extreme agenda cannot go unchecked. Whereas Ossoff has given every indication he will rubber-stamp Biden's bonanza, U.S. Sen. David Perdue has done just the opposite. Time and again, he has shown that the well-being of American workers -- not those from overseas -- is his top priority.

This November, voters have the power to ensure that hardworking Georgians -- who have already sacrificed so much -- enjoy six more years of such stalwart support from their senator.

Suzi Voyles

Sandy Springs

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