16 Jan 2014

The CEOs of hotel chain Marriott International and telecom giant AT&T are calling on Congress to grant them immigration reform so they can hire more cheap labor from outside the United States – at a time when an unprecedentedly high number of Americans are out of work.

In a lengthy post on his LinkedIn page, Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson said he wants amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration in order to staff up Marriott’s various resorts around the country.

“As unemployment inches downward, we also need a functioning immigration system that helps us staff positions that might otherwise go unfilled, especially in our seasonal resorts,” Sorenson wrote.

Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, according to The Hill, wants more guest workers brought into the United States from foreign countries. Stephenson wants both more high-tech workers brought into the country and a streamlined and increased temporary worker program. “I get a sense that there's momentum for doing something like this in Congress, and I hope [Obama] just does encourage it and it’s a high priority for his administration,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson is speaking in his capacity as both AT&T CEO and chairman of the business lobbyist organization Business Roundtable. In a Jan. 15 letter to President Barack Obama, Stephenson and the Business Roundtable’s 208 CEOs asked that Obama pressure Congress “to create a larger pool of visas for higher-skilled workers” and “enact a new visa system for lower-skilled workers,” while also granting amnesty to illegal aliens already inside the United States.

These CEOs are pushing for more cheap labor from foreign countries as American workers struggle to find jobs. In total, 102.2 million working-age Americans are not in the workforce or are officially unemployed. The number of those not in the workforce, according to the Department of Labor, is about 91.8 million, while those who fall into the category officially unemployed are about 10,351,000 people.
That means there is clearly no labor shortage across the country as these CEOs like to claim.

Similarly, in high tech fields, there also is no labor shortage. In a late August report in trade publication IEEE Spectrum, Robert Charette debunked the “STEM Crisis” by reviewing hundreds of reports, white papers, and articles spanning six decades. There is no shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workers, Charette concluded, arguing that the claim of a shortage pushed by tech and other business executives is a “myth.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told Breitbart News in a recent interview published in November that the claim there is a labor shortage in the U.S. in any field is “bunk.”

“There are no labor shortages today,” Brooks said then. “We have a surplus of unemployed labor. We have the lowest labor participation rate since Jimmy Carter, which is 40 years ago. So the argument advanced about future labor forces is not supported by data, it is purely hypothetical, and the net result is to hurt American citizens. If we face a labor shortage sometime in the future, it is very easy to change on a short-term basis laws relating to labor importation. If you do so, then you are suppressing wages for American families.”
Nonetheless, these CEOs continue pushing for amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration to fill positions that those millions of Americans out of work could likely do.

These CEOs also claim that it would help the economy as a whole.
Marriott’s Sorenson said in his LinkedIn post that the Senate-passed “Gang of Eight” immigration bill “would be a boon to the economy.” The Senate bill is all but dead since its lead GOP sponsor Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and subsequently all of House GOP leadership except for Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) came out against efforts to save it via a conference committee, meaning Rubio effectively unendorsed his own bill.

However, House leadership figures like Ryan, Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Speaker John Boehner, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, among others, are in the process of developing a series of immigration “principles” which will likely reflect those contained in the Gang of Eight Senate bill. They will also be gearing for a big push for immigration legislation with backing from CEOs like Sorenson and Stephenson.

Stephenson argues, like Sorenson does, that immigration reform legislation that fits their agenda – amnesty for illegal aliens and a massive increase in imported foreign labor – would somehow be a net positive for the economy. “Done right, [immigration] reform can increase our economic growth rate, reduce our deficit, and contribute significantly to America’s future,” Stephenson and the 208 CEOs of the Business Roundtable wrote in their letter to Obama.

Rep. Brooks and fifteen other House Republicans challenge that assertion. In a Jan. 8 letter to President Obama, Brooks and his colleagues argued that what these CEOs are lobbying for would hurt American workers.

“Rapidly expanding unskilled immigration – at a time when factory work and blue collar jobs are disappearing – would represent the final economic blow for millions of workers who have been struggling to gain an economic foothold,” they wrote to Obama. “Yet, despite this jobs crisis for American workers, the White House continues to advocate that CEOs and business executives seek lower cost labor. The White House has entertained a parade of high-powered business executives to discuss immigration policy, all while shutting out the concerns of everyday wage-earners who overwhelmingly oppose these measures. You even released an economic report saying that the ‘hospitality and leisure industry’ needs ‘legislation that would legalize workers in the U.S. and facilitate the lawful employment of future foreign-born workers.’”

Interestingly enough, one specific question those 16 GOP members posed to Obama also applies to Marriott’s Sorenson: “Is it the position of the White House that the hotel industry cannot be asked to find employees from among the legions of unemployed residing here today?”