House GOP Amnesty Includes Expansion of Foreign Workers in U.S. Labor Market

by JOHN BINDER 22 Mar 2021

An amnesty plan touted by a group of House Republicans and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would expand the number of foreign visa workers taking United States jobs in the lower end of the labor market.

Last week, as Breitbart News reported, Graham as well as Rep. David Valado (R-CA), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT), Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) announced their support for Rep. Maria Salazar’s (R-FL) amnesty plan.

While the specifics have not yet been revealed, the plan would give green cards to illegal aliens enrolled and eligible for former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and provide work permits to the remaining 11 to 22 million illegal aliens living in the U.S.

Slipped in the amnesty plan is an expansion of foreign workers taking U.S. agricultural jobs through a newly created “Agricultural Worker Visa program” and a promise to “reform and modernize the H-2A [visa] program” which provides U.S. farms with an uncapped number of foreign workers to annually import.

“There is no hint at what ‘modernizes’ might mean,” Center for Immigration Studies Director of Policy Jessica Vaughan told Breitbart News. “This is an ironic term to use, because true modernization of these sectors would be moving away from dependency on cheap labor, not facilitating it.”

As federal data shows, H-2A foreign visa workers make up only about ten percent of the total U.S. crop farm workforce, and the program is used by farmers to pay imported foreign workers less than their American counterparts.

The amnesty plan, according to Salazar’s summary, will “modernize” the H-2B visa program with “market-based reforms,” the terminology often used to describe a process in which the level of immigration is reliant on how many workers a particular industry wants.

In practice, the policy mimics that of former President George W. Bush’s “Any Willing Worker” initiative that invites any foreign national to the U.S. so long as they are willing to take a job.

“In the context of guest worker programs, ‘market-based reforms’ usually mean ‘if an employer wants more workers they get them,'” Vaughan said. “In other words, flood the market so the wages decrease. This is really market manipulation.”

The amnesty plan was introduced at a time when nearly 17 million Americans remain jobless, but all want full-time work. In particular, the unemployment rate for teenagers — those most likely to take entry-level jobs — is nearly 14 percent, while the unemployment rate for black Americans is nearly 10 percent.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), likewise, has repeatedly noted that mass immigration cuts Americans’ wages. In 2013, CBO analysis stated that the “Gang of Eight” amnesty plan would “slightly” push down wages for the American workers. A 2020 CBO analysis stated that “immigration has exerted downward pressure on the wages of relatively low-skilled workers who are already in the country, regardless of their birthplace.”

Every year, about 1.2 million legal immigrants are given green cards to permanently resettle in the U.S. In addition, 1.4 million foreign nationals are annually awarded temporary visas to full U.S. jobs that would otherwise go to Americans.