HOLDEN — Politicians reveal themselves more clearly by votes than by speeches. Tracking the votes and bill sponsorships of  Susan Collins and Angus King reveals that Maine’s senators consistently vote to expand foreign worker visas and reward illegal immigration. American workers are not their first priority.

Both Collins and King have supported legislation to expand the H-1B tech visa program. Evidently, they ignored coverage of mass layoffs at Disney, Qualcomm, Cargill, Microsoft, Southern California Edison, Harley-Davidson, Northeast Utilities, etc., where American tech workers were fired and required to train their foreign replacements. The loopholes that allow such abuse are well known, and legislation exists to correct them – but neither Collins nor King joined Sens. Bernie Sanders and Dick Durbin last year as the bill’s co-sponsors.

Gouging American workers is just too lucrative to forgo. Scholars with the left-of-center Economic Policy Institute state: “The payoff for replacing American workers with indentured and underpaid H-1B guest workers is simply too high, as much as a 49 percent wage savings in some cases.” How many Mainers tell their kids to study math, aspiring to good-paying technology jobs, while Maine’s senators enable corporations to fire American tech workers?

And not just technology jobs. Both Collins and King were among the 13 co-sponsors of S.792, a 2017 measure increasing H-2B visas for seasonal workers, buying the “labor shortage” narrative. With the head of two Maine service-industry trade groups referring ominously to “an acute situation,” a Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce official told Maine Public Radio last May that businesses there were boosting pay to attract local employees. Imagine that. Offering higher wages to locals. Even a Bangor Daily News headline validates the narrative: “Amid foreign worker shortage, Bar Harbor businesses turn to local labor.” What’s wrong with expecting Maine businesses to hire Mainers or other Americans?

Since the end of slavery and indentured servitude, Americans have done our own work. But recent policies have added 1.42 million guest workers, not just farmworkers, on top of unprecedented legal immigration and a rise in illegal immigration. Congress is re-creating an economy dependent on low-wage foreign workers, living in conditions resembling indentured servitude, with looming fiscal consequences. Most first-generation immigrants simply aren’t paid enough to cover the taxes their social services and infrastructure costs require. The fault lies with Congress.

While ignoring American workers, our senators have no qualms about protecting illegal immigrants and their jobs. In February, Collins and King put forward legislation that would have granted a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrant youth, not just the 800,000 approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Our senators also wanted to ensure that millions of other immigrants could still sponsor their adult children once they themselves became citizens. (Princeton researchers have found that Mexican immigrants, our largest group, sponsor an average of 6.38 relatives per immigrant.)

The Department of Homeland Security slammed the Collins-King proposal for its emasculation of law enforcement and its failure to crack down on illegals caught in the U.S. without papers.

History supports the DHS’ critique: In 1986, during the first amnesty, bureaucrats were overwhelmed processing millions of applications with no way to determine veracity, leading to what then-New York Times reporter Roberto Suro described in 1989 as “one of the most extensive immigration frauds ever perpetrated against the United States government.”

Since few Maine employers depend on illegal workers, our senators are uniquely positioned to co-sponsor bills like S.179, which requires employers to electronically verify the work status of all new hires. E-verify punishes lawbreaking employers, creates a level playing field and reduces the need for walls or raids.

Around 850 Maine businesses voluntarily use it. The problem is, it works. It stops the flow of illegal labor. Democrats perceive it as a “poison pill,” and Republicans dither. While Maine’s senators spearhead citizenship for dreamers and their families, raising hopes all over the world, they won’t sponsor S.179, which would discourage the next group from coming.

One would hope that Congress never intended to recruit foreign workers to displace Americans, renew conditions of indentured servitude, reward lawbreakers, build a low-wage economy with massive wealth concentrations and outsource technology jobs. But that’s what Congress did. If we don’t want populist politicians like Donald Trump, then we need principled leadership with the spine to face down open-border lobbies.