Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes an anti-immigration position?

At lunch on Friday, a friend bragged a bit about his daughter, a whip-smart Computer Science graduate working for one of the most prestigious Wall Street banks: “She’s making a ton of money.”

Really, I asked. She won’t need a car in Manhattan so let’s say that she can spend half of her after-tax earnings on rent. Within a 20-minute walk of her office, how big of an apartment would she get? “Not even a one-bedroom,” he replied. The young energetic works-all-the-time college graduate has to share an apartment. So, she’d have an objectively higher standard of living if she were a programmer for the State of Indiana? “Yes.”

Let’s look at what happens when a big rich employer moves into this environment.

“Ocasio-Cortez and progressives score a victory in Amazon fight” (CNN):

Ocasio-Cortez hailed the Washington Post report on Friday as a victory of the citizen over the corporation, when she tweeted a link to the Post article and added: “Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations? Yes, they can.”

Let’s also consider “Ocasio-Cortez leads immigration rally outside White House” (The Hill):

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday used a pro-immigration rally outside the White House to call for permanent residence for people in the U.S. with temporary protected status (TPS).

“We are a nation that turns peril into promise,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We are here to make sure that all TPS recipients become permanent members of the United States of America.”


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday called on Congress to cut funding to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and accused the agency of criminalizing Latinos in the United States, which she called “native land.”

I wonder if everyone’s favorite member of Congress has figured out that the immigration of Amazon into Manhattan is likely to be a net negative for most of her constituents. Plainly, property owners will be better off. There will be more demand for office space, retail space, and apartments.

What about renters? Consider the school teacher, age 32, who has been working for NYC Public Schools since graduating college at age 22 and has earned an online master’s degree. If I’m reading the salary schedule right, this puts the teacher at $87,160 per year. If the teacher has no children, earning $87,160 is above the eligibility limit for public housing.

Why is the teacher better off after Amazon moves in? The teacher’s salary is set by union contract and won’t go up. Amazon was forecast to pay an average of $150,000 per year. This is great news for the teacher’s landlord, who now has 25,000+ new potential renters earning $150,000 per year. Why is it great news for the teacher?

If we consider the teacher a “native” and the Amazon workers “immigrants,” I wonder if this is the same situation as the immigration question on which Ms. Ocasio-Cortez takes the opposite view.

An extra 50 or 100 million immigrants plus children of immigrants is wonderful news for property owners (the government will pay to rent a migrant family an apartment), the health care industry (more customers and the government will pay for nearly all of them!), folks who work in the welfare industry, etc. But for a renter with low skills, the immigrants will drive up the cost of an apartment and drive down the market-clearing wage.

Readers: Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being inconsistent here in advocating for migrants to come through the southern border and for Amazon to stay out of Queens? Does the own vs. rent dichotomy explain most of the disagreement in New York City on whether Amazon HQ2 was a positive or a negative?

7 thoughts on “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes an anti-immigration position?

  1. You could find a way to pull pieces of this out and string them together into an inconsistent position, but it would be a lot of work and we all have other things to do, like doing searches on AOC because we love her or doing searches on AOC because we hate her.

  2. I think it’s probably better for poor people as it brings more people who need services they provide. Not to mention the tax revenue to support programs for the poor.

    But the other issue is that her constituency is not the poor, but very organized, progressive and gentrifying whites. They already have their apartment and don’t want the character of their neighborhood to change with traffic or people from out of state.

  3. > Plainly, property owners will be better off.

    This may not be true for many people. In my area as property values go up many people can no longer afford the taxes and other costs. Then families who may have lived in a community for generations are forced to leave.

    • That’s a good point, W. I was thinking more about commercial property owners and also people who own their condos and can keep living there. I wasn’t thinking as carefully as

      about the cost of property tax for a residential owner.

      On the third hand, being forced to sell a house for $2 million isn’t the end of the world. The seller can then retire as a rich person almost anywhere else in the U.S.

  4. Did anyone survey Seattle residents and ask them what they think? Or even SF residents?

    I bet a lot of Seattlites think NY dodged a bullet.

    Seattle, San Francisco really are transformed cities, and unless you’re a property owner, it’s hard to say it’s been for the better.

    And yes, I think you’re astute in this and that AOC has been inconsistent wrt immigration,

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