Jayapal’s Freudian Slip Reveals Elitist Contempt for Migrants, American Workers


May 3, 2023

By William Davis

During a recent hearing in the House Judiciary Committee meant to debate an immigration bill aimed at ending the abuse of the U.S. asylum system, an extreme progressive congresswoman’s comments about migrants unmasked elitist attitudes on the immigration issue.

At the hearing, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) claimed that the U.S. needs more immigration because migrants are the people who “pick the food we eat” and “clean our homes.” Her comments reveal the deep disdain many anti-borders activists and politicians have for working-class Americans and the migrants themselves. 

The comments are similar to those made last year by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the U.S. needed more migrants to “pick crops.” Far-left elites see poor migrants from other countries as servants for the rich, willing to do laborious tasks for menial wages. They don’t care that this will drive down wages for working-class Americans and many of them into poverty because they believe importing more poor migrants will benefit their donors and create more votes for their agenda.

In many ways, Jayapal’s comments are reminiscent of the old canard that mass immigration is necessary because there are jobs that Americans won’t do. The lazy American trope is both tired and untrue. In reality, there are plenty of Americans willing to work difficult jobs in exchange for a living wage. 

The ideology promoted by Jayapal and many other politicians in both parties strips working class Americans of those opportunities in favor of desperate foreign nationals willing to work for pennies on the dollar.

The ideology promoted by Jayapal and many other politicians in both parties strips working class Americans of those opportunities in favor of desperate foreign nationals willing to work for pennies on the dollar. This arrangement has not worked out well for anyone other than the establishment political class and their major donors.

Jayapal’s comments also demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of how the U.S. immigration system is supposed to work. The immigration bill being debated before Congress is meant to reduce illegal immigration and abuse of the U.S. asylum system. It is separate from the debate over legal immigration and how many work visas the U.S. should be distributed. 

Anti-borders activists like Jayapal, however, view the U.S. asylum system as indistinguishable from a labor-importation system. This backward approach explains why more than 5.5 million illegal aliens have crossed the U.S. border since the Biden Administration took office. Whatever one believes about the merits of America’s legal immigration policy is distinctly different from the problem of illegal immigration and spurious asylum claims. The asylum system should only be available to those fleeing legitimate persecution. It should not be used to import cheap labor for the benefit of the politically connected.

The need to import more migrants to control labor costs is self-serving and unnecessary. The dignity of work is baked into the fabric of the U.S. more than any country in the world. Americans are indeed unlikely to accept a job that requires intense physical labor for dirt-poor wages, but employers can find willing workers here in America if they are willing to pay them a living wage. It’s also true that higher farm worker pay would result in a minimal increase in costs passed on to consumers. 

What Jayapal and other anti-borders advocates want to do is displace American workers in favor of foreign nationals willing to work for little money. This is not just bad for American workers, but exploitive towards migrants as well. It is not helpful to migrants to encourage them to undertake a brutal journey in the U.S. just so they can work demanding jobs for low wages. This might work well for illegal immigration advocates and the wealthy elites that fund them, but it does not work for anybody else. 

Ultimately, Jayapal’s comments are a rare, unintentional moment of honesty from an anti-borders politician. This movement doesn’t see American workers and migrants as human beings with dignity but as potential servants for the ruling class that funds them. 

William J. Davis is a communications associate for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Also published at Townhall, May 3, 2023.

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