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Hoist on an orange petard

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Small business owners are one of Trump’s most reliable constituencies, and they can’t find workers in large measure because of his immigration policies:

Alonzo Arteaga’s title is general manager of a small hotel in Topeka, Kan. But these days, he doubles as a housekeeper, making beds, vacuuming floors and laundering towels to fill an ever-worsening worker shortage.

Like other businesses around the country, Senate Luxury Suites is struggling to keep going without critical employees. The hotel is down to three housekeepers, half the number it had before the pandemic, and Arteaga blames a years-long immigration slowdown, which he says has made an already tough situation worse.

“It’s been three years of trying absolutely everything,” said Arteaga, who has raised pay by about $3 an hour andoffers discounted monthly rates to employees. “It feels like the workers really aren’t there.”

A shortfall of immigrants is worsening widespread labor shortages and hobbling the U.S. economy at a time when more than 10 million jobs remain unfilled, particularly in low-paying and physically demanding industries such as hospitality, agriculture, construction and health care.

While the slowdown in legal immigration began well before the pandemic, the covid-19 crisis intensified the process as the Trump administration effectively halted the flow of foreign-born workers into the United States. Although immigration has rebounded somewhat since then, particularly in the last six months, major shortages remain, rippling through the economy at a time when the labor force is also missing workers from early retirements, ongoing health problems and caregiving challenges.Labor force shortages are also contributing to higher prices for some goods and services, as companies raise wages to compete for a smaller pool of workers and to keep existing staff.

But he did lower their taxes, so.

And evidently, while the Trumpified judiciary is a major constraint, Biden should be doing more to liberalize on immigration — not because it will persuade anyone in Trump’s xenophobic base, but both because it’s the right policy and because the strength of the economy is very important to swing voters.

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