Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Lawmakers Adjust Immigration Legislation in Light of Current Economic Situation

The current economic situation is forcing legislators to alter their approach to comprehensive immigration reform.  Speaking on the issue, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said “each bill is reflective of a time. And with unemployment over 10 percent I think we need to have language that is very carefully tailored.”  His concerns are echoed by other lawmakers, including Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who acknowledge that tough economic times create challenges for passing such legislation.

Congressman Gutierrez has said that he wants to maintain many of the provisions included in previously proposed immigration bills.  However, certain aspects of these bills now seem unfeasible.  For example, legislation sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) in 2007 called for “New Worker” visas, which could be rejected by the Secretary of Labor in sectors where unemployment exceeded 9 percent; with national unemployment currently above 10 percent, such thresholds would likely require adjustments.

Opponents of the reforms in question, like Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), argue that the measures being proposed would allow illegal immigrants to take jobs that should be reserved for U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.  In response to such criticism, Gutierrez said “we believe that every American should always have first crack at every job.”  But the congressman also added: “Where the opportunities exist, we need to sustain our economy. And so we need workers.”

Some lawmakers say that a sharply divided House will make it improbable for immigration reform legislation to pass with bipartisan support.  Congressman Flake has said that he would be “surprised” to see a bipartisan bill presented.




The Hill