5 Jun 2013

In analysis to be released Wednesday, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) estimates that the Senate immigration bill’s guest worker program would expand current levels to more than 600,000 new guest workers per year.

“The Schumer-Rubio bill, which will be debated by the full Senate starting next week, would allow unprecedented increases in the number of temporary workers,” the Center for Immigration Studies wrote in the report. Initially, the increase in guest workers would be more than double the 600,000 figure:

[I]n the first year, the bill (S.744) would admit nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed. After that initial spike, 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).

If passed into law, CIS estimates the bill “would roughly double the number of temporary workers admitted each year (nearly 700,000 in 2012). These workers are classified as 'non-immigrants' and would be in addition to S.744's large proposed increase in annual permanent legal immigrants competing for jobs (more than 30 million in the next decade).”

CIS details how these guest worker visas are not for just unskilled laborers, as some in the public might believe. These increases include professional and white-collar jobs, which would more profoundly affect the middle class.

The paper states that a similar guest worker problem contributed to the defeat of Congress's 2007 immigration proposal.

“The 2007 bill was defeated in part due to widespread concerns over the increase in the number of guest workers,” CIS wrote. “While the sponsors of S.744 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."

The CIS analysis paints a dour picture of the effects of this potential surge: "Such a large number by definition will displace American workers and the chronically unemployed. It will also reduce job opportunities for legal immigrants. By any measure, S.744 is worse for workers, at a worse time, than previous attempts at comprehensive reform.”

Conservatives and liberals in the U.S. Senate have expressed concerned about the impacts of such a guest worker program increase.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said in a statement about the CIS analysis that this is yet another sign the Schumer-Rubio amnesty legislation is not good policy. “This report from CIS is a bombshell,” Sessions said.

To my surprise, and no doubt the surprise of many, the Gang of Eight Immigration doubles the annual number of guest workers from today’s levels – a much larger increase than any of us had imagined. It adds four times more guest workers than the rejected proposal from 2007. Yet today’s employment situation is far worse than when Congress considered the 2007 proposal.

This large increase in guest workers guarantees that Americans’ wages will remain stagnant and that the unemployed will remain unemployed. This legislation surges the number of low-wage workers at the expense of the poor and middle class.

Sessions’ Senate colleague, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), expressed concerns with the guest worker program during a Senate floor speech on Wednesday. He argued that the bill’s visa programs for foreign workers are a ploy by big corporations to depress wages of American workers. Sanders particular attention to h-1b visas, and how middle-class Americans cannot find white collar jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

“What purpose does the h-1b program serve other than to suppress the wages of American workers who are already struggling?” Sanders asked on the Senate floor. “At the very least, I believe we should prohibit offshore outsourcing firms from hiring temporary guest workers. Mr. President, under the Senate immigration bill, the number of college-educated h-1b guest workers and STEM green card holders who are under 30 years of age will exceed the number of jobs that are available for young information technology graduates.”