America’s Struggling Workers: The Real Victims of Immigration Reform

| June 15 2013
John Walker

Gang of Eight Bill Doubles the Number of Temporary Workers

While American workers struggle with record unemployment, the immigration reform bill under consideration in the Senate threatens a surge of new competitors in a stagnant job market.

A new study of the reform bill by the Center for Immigration Studies found that in the first year after enactment, the bill would admit nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed.

“After that initial spike,” the study said, “the bill would increase annual temporary worker admissions by more than 600,000 each year over the current level – an increase four times larger than the one called for in the 2007 Bush – Kennedy proposal (about 125,000).”

The study said the bill would roughly double the number of temporary workers admitted each year. It said these workers are classified as “non-immigrants” and would be in addition to the bill’s proposed annual increase in permanent legal immigrants competing for jobs.

The study said the 2007 immigration reform bill was defeated in part due to widespread concerns over the increase in the number of guest workers.

“While the sponsors of S.744 (the Gang of Eight bill) have suggested that this bill more responsibly manages the number of guest workers than the rejected 2007 proposal, it allows for dramatically more guest workers than the 2007 plan did. Such a large number by definition will displace American workers and the chronically unemployed.”

The study noted that the bill also would reduce job opportunities for legal immigrants.

“By any measure, S. 744 is worse for workers, at a worse time, then previous attempts at comprehensive reform.”

Compared to 2007, 4.6 million more Americans are out of work and 19.8 million more Americans are on food stamps. Unemployment among teenagers is 54 percent higher; African- American teenage unemployment is 38 percent higher.

Meanwhile, labor force participation is at its lowest rate in more than three decades. Median household income is 8.9 percent lower than in 1999 and 8.1 percent lower than in 2007, according to the latest census data.

Commenting on the study, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama called the expanded guest worker program “a hammer blow” to working Americans – both immigrant and native born.

“I have a simple question for my fellow Senators,” Sessions said. “How can we justify adding four times more guest workers than were proposed in 2007 at a time when so many more Americans are out of work?”

Good question, Senator. We are waiting for an answer.

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