House Sells American Workers Down the River---Again!

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

December 2, 2011

Here’s a glowing example of how hurtful legal immigration is to American workers.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted by a staggering margin (389-15) to end per-country caps on worker-based immigration visas. Called the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, H.R. 3012, the Associated Press described the legislation as “beneficial to high-skilled Indian and Chinese residents seeking to stay in the United States and the high-tech companies who hire them” and called it a “rare example of bipartisan accord on immigration.” See the outrageous final vote tally here.

H.R. 3012 would eliminate the current law that limits employment-based visas to any one country to 7 percent of the total number of such visas given out.

To make a bad bill worse, the legislation also changes family-based visa limits from 7 percent per country to 15 percent per country, an adjustment that the AP projects  could “slightly ease” the backlog for naturalized citizens, particularly from Mexico and the Philippines, trying to bring relatives into the country. [House Votes to End Country Limits for Worker Visas, by Jim Abrams, Associated Press, November 30, 2011]

The measure’s sponsor is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, normally counted as an ally in our struggle to limit immigration but not this time. According to Rep. Chaffetz, his bill:

“...does encourage high-skilled immigrants who were educated in the U.S. to stay and help build our economy rather than using the skills they learned here to aid our competitor nations.’’

H.R. 3012 represents the worst of all worlds. Not only does it put added pressure on unemployed Americans, especially in the high tech sector, but it opens up the door for something else America doesn’t need---increased population via the family visa categories.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who heads the Senate Judiciary immigration panel and is one of Congress’ biggest immigration enthusiasts, promised to move Chaffetz’s bill as quickly as possible in the Senate.  According to Schumer, the Senate would support it overwhelmingly because it would:

“...remove outdated constraints that prevent us from attracting the kind of innovators who can create job growth in America.’’

Notice the not-so-subtle insult to American workers who Schumer thinks are incapable of becoming innovative job creators.

Luckily, however, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee vowed to place a hold on the House bill.

In his statement for the Congressional Record, Senator Grassley said:

"I have concerns about the impact of this bill on future immigration flows, and am concerned that it does nothing to better protect Americans at home who seek high-skilled jobs during this time of record high unemployment."

CAPS’ long held position is that legal immigration is a major cause of American unemployment. On November 29, CAPS launched a major television campaign to bring attention to the link between high legal immigration and Los Angeles’ 12 percent unemployment rate. See it here.

Bills like H.R. 3012, which received the nearly unanimous support of California’s Congressional delegation, offers evidence why 22 million Americans in Los Angeles and elsewhere are either unemployed or under-employed

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