Friday, May 24, 2024

Schumer Expects Immigration Bill by Labor Day

Senator Charles Schumer who is the lead Democrat on the issue says that he expects to have an immigration bill ready by Labor Day. The bill will be more favorable to highly skilled immigrant workers than lower skilled workers and tough on illegal immigration.

Schumer told the Associated Press, “I think we’ll have a good bill by Labor Day. I think the fundamental building blocks are in place to do comprehensive immigration reform.”

The bill is said to work out disagreements between labor and business interests on the flow of legal foreign workers. Schumer, who is pro-immigration, said the U.S. should encourage legal immigration and find a way for illegal immigrants to find a way to legal citizenship.

Schumer said, “We have a shortage maybe of engineers here or Ph.D’s in physics, but we probably don’t have a shortage of people who can do construction work.”

He continued, “I think one of the ways to bridge it is to look at the different areas of labor and where there are shortages and where there are not and where just workers are being brought in for exploitive purposes — broadly put meaning just get lower wages — rather than having a shortage.”

Labor groups such as the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win unions are in support of immigration reform but oppose increases in visas for skilled foreign workers.  This position is in direct opposition to the demands of business for legal foreign workers in industries ranging in areas from high-technology to agriculture.

Compete America, a coalition pushing for more visas for foreign workers, has met to discuss the bill with Schumer’s office, but Robert Hoffman, an in-house lobbyist for Oracle, a software company and member of Compete America, said members of the group are skeptical of a labor proposal that will set limits on visas and green cards given to legal residents.

Ana Avendano, AFL-CIO’s director of immigration policy, said, “We want employers to have workers they need, but the key is determining when there is a real need, not one employers make up when they import temporary workers.”

On Wednesday, as reported in La Plaza, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that beginning Sept. 8, businesses which want federal contracts will have to use E-Verify, a Web-based system, to check a persons eligibility to legally work in the U.S. The system, which was initially introduced under the Bush administration, had met with Congressional and immigration advocate opposition over its accuracy.  However, earlier this year the Senate, during a debate on a spending bill, voted to make the program permanent.

DHS also announced that they intend to rescind a previously issued Social Security No-Match Rule which had never been implemented since it had been blocked by a court order.

Texas Rep. Lamar Smith,the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee who has long been a staunch immigration opponent, argued that the two announcements send mixed signals. “The administration is saying illegal immigrants shouldn’t have jobs by supporting the federal contracting rule, but making it harder for companies to follow the law by doing away with the Bush ‘no-match rule.”

Associated Press