In an interview with the former Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley, that appeared in The Guardian there are some notable claims that I haven't heard of till now. For example, this part refers to Bernie Sanders (emphasis mine):

Here’s a guy who has been a kind of stalwart of the National Rifle Association, a man who said immigrants steal our jobs right up until he ran for president, a guy who said the sound of John Kennedy’s voice made him nauseous.

These claims are supported by some links to other pages on the internet. This article points to Bernie's mixed views on gun control and this Buzzfeed article backs the claim about Kennedy. But Bernie's views about immigrants, at least in the form that is reflected by O'Malley and another Buzzfeed article seem hard to believe.

Question: Did Sanders claim that immigrants steal the jobs of American citizens?

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    @Oddthinking I strongly disagree with your edit. But it appears that you're the boss (zipping mouth emoji)
    – user36020
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 14:46
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    @Oddthinking I strongly agree with your edit. But it appears that only one comment disagreeing with it but gaining upvotes might give the wrong impression here. Anyone up to flagging both comments here for obsoleteness has my approval as well. Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 1:04
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    @LangLangC I get the impression that the upvotes for my comment is merely due to its anti-establishment tone! Regardless of the fact that no disrespect was intended, I think not deleting the comment is the best way to reflect the original intention of the OP as well, while keeping the site up to its standards
    – user36020
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 4:47
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    The reason for the objection wasn't given, so it was hard to defend my change or have my mind changed. I wanted to avoid degenerating into opinion-based arguments of what it meant to have a dramatic change in the Sanders's views, and in unprovable arguments about Sanders's motivations. That is better at Politics.SE. I focused the question on something that could be answered with evidence (admittedly only in one direction).
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 7:35
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    See also other similarities with Trump on related matters, in particular protectionism in trade politifact.com/factchecks/2016/jul/27/donald-trump/… @Oddthinking: speculating about the internal motivation of people is also off topic on politics SE (there's even a dedicated close reasons for that issue there). Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 21:51

2 Answers 2


A July 2015 interview (at 5:54) was:

Ezra Klein: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing ...

Bernie Sanders: Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal.

Ezra Klein: Really?

Bernie Sanders: Of course. That's a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. ...

Ezra Klein: But it would make ...

Bernie Sanders: Excuse me ...

Ezra Klein: It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn't it?

Bernie Sanders: It would make everybody in America poorer —you're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you're a white high school graduate, it's 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

I think from a moral responsibility we've got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this country even poorer.

07 June 2007 Bernie Sanders said:

I must oppose bringing in hundreds of thousands more workers into the United States who would lower wages and hurt American workers

Also Sander's official senate website still says:

Sanders had argued that helping unemployed American young people was the least Congress should do in a bill that allows college students from around the world to take jobs that young Americans would otherwise perform.

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    Conclusion: no, he did not say "stealing", but that word is editorialising by Mr. O'Malley?
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 22:18
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    @gerrit Seems like a reasonable conclusion based on what I see so far. He only said "take" not "steal".
    – DavePhD
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 22:43
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    @Dronz in the second quote he is talking about people on H-1B visas and other legal foreign workers in the US, and in the 3rd quote he is talking about people on J-1 and H-2B visas.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 0:21
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    @polfosol It's fine not to accept an answer or to wait a year or two before accepting an answer. Other people might find even more pertinent quotes. I don't want to elaborate because I don't want to introduce bias into the answer.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 11:41
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    Considering that there is no law against an employee “stealing” a job (though there may be some laws about employers doing so), the only difference between “stealing” and “taking” is how strong the language is, as opposed to a difference in the definition.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 6:53

Yes, in 1974 Sanders is on record stating that just 351 guest visas to Jamaicans was hurting native Vermont residents, although he didn't use the word steal. He also equated the voluntary guest worker program that encouraged Jamaicans to do physically tough field work in the US to slavery.

Back in 1974, Sanders's rhetorical target was local orchard owners. Vermonters, in their view, were unwilling to do the grueling work, which involved carrying around a ladder and heavy bucket of apples for eight hours a day. The orchard owners said that Jamaicans had more flexibility and experience in agricultural work. Unlike native Vermonters, they were under no expectation of permanent employment.

Sanders, in his second gubernatorial bid of the decade, among several losses for higher office before he finally won the Burlington mayoralty in 1981 and then moved to Congress a decade later, was running under the socialist Liberty Union Party. Sanders attacked state officials for accommodating the Jamaican immigrants and implying that native workers were "lazy."

"With the Vermont unemployment rate one of the highest in the nation, I could never support importing foreign workers when our own people are out of work," said Sanders, who was collecting unemployment insurance at the time.

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    "although he didn't use the word steal" - that would be a 'no'.
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 0:54
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    "He also equated immigration to slavery" is a big claim to not bother backing up with a quote. What he said in the article isn't nearly the same thing, and to not even bring that quote into your answer here is sheer dishonesty. Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 3:05
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    @Mazura Considering that there is no law against an employee “stealing” a job (though there may be some laws about employers doing so), the only difference between “stealing” and “taking” is how strong the language is, as opposed to a difference in the definition.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 10:23
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    Just so I'm clear, as the linked article doesn't contain all the details. These quotes are about an program in 1974 that saw Apple Farmers ship 361 people from Jamaica to Vermont for Apple picking, work them from "sunup to sunset" for wages lower than locals would accept, possibly with deductions for housing/food and then send them back to Jamaica at the end of the Season?
    – Jontia
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 12:00
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    -1 for the poor and unreliable source and the misleading reference to slavery. I wasn't able to find either quote in any reliable source, but even accepting it as true, it reads more like criticizing working conditions for immigrants. The answer by DavePhD already shows with much better sources that Sanders was critical of immigration because of concerns for American jobs (I wouldn't quibble over "steal" or "take" here), so I'm not sure what this answer adds, except poorly sourced possibly real - maybe made up - quotes and misleading references to slavery.
    – tim
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 14:50

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