Legislative Update: 9/18/2013
Big Business Asks House Leaders to Increase Immigration While Laying Off Thousands
Last week, high level executives of over 100 large corporations penned a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging them to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform. (Washington Examiner, Sept. 11, 2013)
The co-signers represent various business interests and all support increasing low-skilled and high-skilled immigration as well as amnesty for the 12 million illegal aliens in the country. (Id.) Passing immigration reform “would be a long overdue step toward aligning our nation’s immigration policies with its workforce needs at all skill levels to ensure U.S. global competitiveness,” the letter reads. (Id.) The executives cite their trade group’s, the HR Policy Association, publication which calls for immigration reform to “address the reality that there is a global war for talent.” (Id.)
Outrageously, this demand from Big Business for more foreign labor comes after many of the companies who signed the letter laid off workers. Last month, Cisco Systems announced it would lay off 4,000 workers — in addition to the 8,000 jobs it already cut over the past two years. (Id.) American Express let go 5,400 workers this year and United Technologies announced plans to lay-off 3,000. (Id.) Hewlett-Packard laid off 29,000 employees in 2012 while Proctor & Gamble laid off 5,700 that same year. (Id.) Additional examples of companies who have recently laid off workers despite signing the letter to Boehner and Pelosi is available here.
According to Reuters, U.S. employers announced 50,462 layoffs in August 2013, a 34 percent increase from July and a 57 percent increase from August 2012. (Id.) Nationwide, over 20 million Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed.
Illegal Aliens Protest, Evade Arrest Outside U.S. Capitol
Approximately two dozen illegal aliens participated in a demonstration outside House of Representatives office buildings Thursday, rallying for “comprehensive” immigration reform legislation. Wearing matching red t-shirts and chanting “si se puede,” the illegal aliens were part of a larger demonstration of roughly 100 women advocating the House pass amnesty legislation. (Roll Call, Sept. 12, 2013)
Capitol Police arrested the demonstrators shortly after the protest began, including a reported 25 illegal aliens. (New York Times, Sept. 12, 2013) However, no action was taken against the arrested illegal aliens. (Id.) In fact, according to event organizers, all protesters — including those unlawfully in the country — received only misdemeanor citations with $50 fines and were released later that afternoon. (Id.)
Pramila Jayapal, one of the demonstration’s organizers, told reporters that the groups believed they could turn public opinion in their favor if they stressed the impact of immigration enforcement on women and children. (Id.) Following the protest, the organizers planned for a group of children to deliver red, heart-shaped cookies referred to as “hearts of courage” to House leaders and members they hoped to influence. (Roll Call, Sept. 12, 2013) They also planned to deliver signed petitions from women and children across the country.
Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women, penned an op-ed touting their role in Thursday’s demonstration.”[The House] seems intent on piecemeal measures that continue to keep women from contributing fully and keeping their families together,” the pair wrote. “If getting arrested is what it takes to show the House we’re serious, it’s worth it.” (CNN, Sept. 12, 2013)
GOP Leaders to Meet with Facebook Founder on Immigration
House Republican leaders plan to meet September 19 with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Bloomberg, Sept. 11, 2013) According to GOP aides, the meeting will take place between Zuckerberg and the top four House leaders: Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). (Id.)
Immigration is expected to be on the list of key topics discussed during the meeting. “Mark is coming to Washington to discuss issues important to the knowledge economy, including immigration reform,” said Facebook spokeswoman Jodi Seth. (Id.)
Zuckerberg has been a key player in the tech industry’s push for “comprehensive” immigration reform, including massive increases in “high-tech” visas and green cards for foreign graduates of U.S. universities. In particular, the Silicon Valley billionaire has been critical in funding the pro-amnesty and mass immigration advocacy group FWD.us (including its front group “Americans for a Conservative Direction”). (Breitbart News, May 7, 2013) The groups have run ads backing the 1,200 page Senate amnesty bill, the DREAM Act, and in support of several key pro-amnesty lawmakers including Gang of Eight members Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Paul Ryan (R-WI). (The Hill, Aug. 8, 2013)
California Legislature Passes Wave of Legislation to Aid Illegal Aliens
In its final days before adjournment, the California Legislature hastily passed a wave of measures that will not only aid illegal aliens, but in many instances threaten public safety.
On Monday, September 9, the California Senate passed Assembly Bill 4, the so-called “TRUST Act,” by a vote of 25 to 11. The bill generally bans local law enforcement officials from detaining any person on the basis of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold (detainer request) after that individual becomes eligible for release. In certain circumstances, the bill does not outright ban transferring custody of criminal aliens to ICE upon request. Instead, it gives local officers the option of releasing such aliens back onto the streets. These include alien who :
- have been convicted of a serious or violent felony;
- have been convicted of a felony punishable by imprisonment;
- have been convicted in the past 5 years of a misdemeanor for a crime that could have been punishable as a felony, or convicted of a felony at any time for crimes including, among others, child abuse, bribery, and gang-related offenses;
- are registered in the California Sex and Arson Registry;
- have been arrested on suspicion of a serious or violent felony and a magistrate has made a finding that there is probable cause to hold the person for that charge; or
- have been convicted of certain federal aggravated felonies or is subject to a federal felony arrest warrant.
AB 4 passed the California Assembly back in May by a vote of 44 to 22, and will now be sent to the Governor for his signature or veto.
Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill passed by the California Legislature last year, AB 1081, because it would have allowed law enforcement officials to hold only those arrested for or previously convicted of serious and violent felonies. In his veto message, Governor Brown noted that the bill excluded any person arrested and convicted of certain serious crimes involving child abuse, drug trafficking, selling weapons, using children to sell drugs, and gang activity. The current version of the so-called “TRUST Act” has attempted to address the Governor’s concerns by providing a list of specific serious and violent crimes for which a person must have previously been convicted in order to give local officials the option (but not the mandate) to transfer custody of the alien to ICE.
The California’s Sheriff’s Association (CSA) opposes AB 4. “You get a request from a federal law enforcement agency, and to say that you should basically willfully disobey, or not cooperate, or thwart that request from law enforcement puts local law enforcement in a difficult position,” said CSA representative Aaron Maguire. (PRI Public Radio International, Sept. 10, 2013). In 2012, former ICE Director John Morton stated his opposition to anti-detainer legislation. In a letter to FAIR, Morton warned that jurisdictions that ignore ICE detainer requests undermine public safety in their communities, noting that his agency has documented serious crimes committed by deportable aliens who have been released rather than handed over to ICE.
Assembly Bill 60, which makes illegal aliens eligible for California driver’s licenses, passed by a vote of 28-8 in the Senate and 55-19 in the Assembly. To obtain the license, an alien need only sign an affidavit that he or she is not eligible for a Social Security Number and lacks proof of authorization to reside in the United States, provide proof of California residency, and provide proof of identity using such documents as a consular ID, foreign passport, foreign birth certificate, marriage or divorce certificate, school transcript, or foreign voter registration card. Reportedly, Governor Brown said he plans to sign the bill into law. (Reuters, Sept. 13, 2013; Governor Statement, Sept. 9, 2013).
Assembly Bill 35, which provides employment compensation benefits and California state identification cards to recipients of President Obama’s back-door amnesty program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, passed the Assembly 55-18 and the Senate 25-10. The bill is pending the Governor’s signature or veto.
Assembly Bill 263, which protects illegal aliens who work under false names and social security numbers by prohibiting employers from taking adverse employment actions against any employee who updates his or her personal information, unless the changes are directly related to the skill set, qualifications or knowledge required for the job, passed the Assembly 54-19 and the Senate 27-11. The bill is pending the Governor’s signature or veto.
AB 1024, which makes illegal aliens eligible to obtain a license to practice law in the state, passed the Assembly 62-4 and the Senate 29-5. The bill, as introduced and passed by the Assembly, concerned community housing issues. However, on September 6 the Senate gutted the bill completely and substituted the provisions granting law licenses to illegal aliens. The Senate’s actions were in response to a case pending before the California Supreme Court of an illegal alien attempting to obtain admission to the State Bar. (In re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission, S202512) Federal law prohibits illegal aliens from receiving “professional licenses” from state or local agencies or with the use of public funds unless the state passes a law affirmatively stating otherwise. (See 8 U.S.C. § 1621(d)) AB 1024 is pending the Governor’s signature or veto.
Senate Bill 141, which provides taxpayer-subsidized in-state tuition rates to children of deported or voluntarily-departed illegal alien parents who live abroad, passed the Senate 35-4 and the Assembly 68-1. The bill is pending the Governor’s signature or veto.
The California legislature also passed two immigration-related resolutions. SJR 8 urges the President and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. SJR 9 urges the President and Congress to create an entrepreneur visa for 75,000 immigrants to start new businesses in the United States, to allow the 50,000 current STEM visa holders to become permanent residents, and to eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas.
If the Governor signs these bills, the impact will be staggering as it will only draw more illegal aliens into California, who, not surprisingly, endures the highest number of illegal aliens — 3.2 million — in the entire United States. Illegal immigration results in higher costs of living, reduced job availability, lower wages, higher crime rates, fiscal hardship on hospitals and substandard quality of care for residents, burdens on public services (increasing their costs and diminishing their availability), and a reduction on the overall quality of life. California cannot afford more of the same as evidenced by its 8.6 percent unemployment rate and state and local government debt and budget deficits. Moreover, drawing more illegal aliens into the state by public handouts threatens the public safety and welfare of other states who are sure to feel the impact of these laws.