Two Immigration Bills Before House Judiciary Provide Members an Opportunity To Demonstrate Their Commitment to American Workers, Says FAIR
(September 14, 2011 — Washington, D.C.) - The outcome of two bills scheduled for mark-up Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee will provide members an important opportunity to protect the interests of American workers, asserts the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The requirement for all employers to use E-Verify, proposed by The Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885), would protect American workers by helping ensure our workforce is legal. The expansion of our agricultural guest worker program, as proposed by the American Specialty Agriculture Act (H.R. 2847), would undermine American workers by allowing employers to bring in foreign workers to fill an expanding array of jobs.
FAIR strongly supports requiring all U.S. employers use E-Verify. However, FAIR has expressed deep concerns about tradeoffs demanded by the business lobby in order to win their support for this common sense reform. In particular, FAIR objects to the preemption provision in H.R. 2885 which strips power from state and local governments to take action against employers that hire illegal aliens. This preemption language is a legislative priority of the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups that have consistently fought states’ efforts to enforce our immigration laws.
“Mandating universal participation in the E-Verify program is an important safeguard for American workers who continue to lose jobs and wages to illegal aliens, and we commend Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) for leading on this critical issue,” said Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “However, given the federal government’s shoddy record of enforcing laws against the employment of illegal aliens and the current administration’s outright refusal to enforce many immigration laws, it is clear that that state and local governments must retain the ability to take action against unscrupulous businesses.”
For the very same reasons, FAIR objects to creating new or expanding guest worker programs that allow employers to bypass American workers in favor of foreign labor — especially at a time when unemployment is hovering at 9 percent. Guest worker programs and the widespread use of illegal aliens in industries such as agriculture have depressed wages and working conditions, and have impeded capital investment in mechanization. The American Specialty Agriculture Act (H.R. 2847) threatens American workers by expanding the types of guest workers that may enter the U.S. and take jobs.
“The admission of new guest workers under H.R. 2847 is not limited to workers picking seasonal crops. It allows businesses that are tangentially related to agriculture access to guest workers as well,” noted Stein. “At a time when every U.S. job is a potential life line for unemployed Americans, passing a bill that allows employers to fill vacancies with guest workers — many of which do not entail picking crops — makes little sense. What is needed instead is a creative package of incentives that encourages employers to reach out to the unemployed and which makes these jobs more attractive to American workers.
“With public approval of Congress at an all-time low, the Judiciary Committee has a golden opportunity to build faith with the American public by approving a Legal Workforce Act that maximizes federal and state cooperation in enforcement of our immigration laws. It also has the opportunity to say no to a powerful business lobby that, for decades, has run roughshod over the interests of workers. The American people will be watching,” concluded Stein.