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Thread: Republicans Set to Battle on Legal Immigration

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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Republicans Set to Battle on Legal Immigration

    Business wing of party wants worker visa total increased; populists say jobs are being taken away from Americans

    By LAURA MECKLER and KRISTINA PETERSON
    Dec. 12, 2016 4:35 p.m. ET

    WASHINGTON—The business and populist wings of the Republican Party are set for a battle over the nation’s system of legal immigration, which could prove to be as divisive as the fight over illegal immigrants.

    The debate turns on whether foreign workers are an engine of economic growth, as many businesses say, or create unfair competition for Americans.

    The question divides the party’s business wing from its surging populist branch. It’s similar to one within the party over free trade, with business interests supporting trade deals and populists now led by President-elect Donald Trump seeing many of them as harmful to American workers.

    Business lobbyists and other backers of liberalized immigration laws are waiting to see whether the Trump administration uses executive actions to change the legal immigration system, and whether support remains in Congress for pro-immigration policies long pushed by agriculture, high-tech and other industry groups.

    The H-1B program, for instance, provides visas for foreign skilled workers and has been capped at 85,000 per year for more than a decade. Supporters are pushing for more, noting that demand far outstrips supply; for the last four years, companies have filed more than 85,000 applications in the first week.

    Critics say this visa program allows qualified U.S. workers to be displaced by cheaper foreign hires. In particular, they point to global outsourcing companies that rotate workers through the U.S. for training.

    The number of green cards issued for employment each year has been capped at 140,000 since enactment of a 1990 immigration law, with some saying the number is too high and others far too low. There also are temporary guest-worker programs for agriculture and other jobs, but some back expanding and making them easier to use.

    The critics are now positioned in influential posts in the incoming administration. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Mr. Trump’s pick for attorney general, has a long record of opposing additional immigration, arguing that new workers drive down wages. Breitbart News, the news and opinion website for which Trump adviser Steve Bannon was chairman, often gave a platform to opponents of increased legal immigration.


    “Our current high levels of immigration—both legal and illegal—are having a negative effect on the wages and job opportunities of American workers as a whole,” Mr. Sessions said at a Senate hearing in June.

    In contrast, the party’s business interests, represented by leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Speaker John Boehner, have backed higher visa totals. Business-oriented Republicans also favor expanding or streamlining programs for high-tech employees, a priority for Silicon Valley firms, and for workers in agriculture, the seafood industry and other fields. Most Democrats have been willing to go along, though labor unions have voiced concerns about the impact on U.S. workers.

    During the campaign, Mr. Trump wasn’t specific about how he’d handle the legal immigration system. His immigration plan called for changes that would “serve the best interests of America and its workers.” He called for “keeping immigration levels within historic norms,” which experts say is code for reducing inflows.

    In a video message last month on priorities for the first 100 days of his administration, Mr. Trump mentioned just one immigration matter, and it involved the system for legal immigration. “I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker,” he said. He wasn’t specific about the abuses he sees.

    Some Republicans argue that immigrants fill jobs that Americans don’t want. “There aren’t Floridians that are going into those groves and picking those oranges. It’s just not happening,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R., Fla.), who has pushed for changes to the system of guest visas for agricultural workers.

    High-tech and agricultural lobbies are preparing to defend the legal immigration system and to push for its expansion. Partnership for a New American Economy, a group formed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has created coalitions in a half-dozen states aimed at building support for increased legal immigration programs. The National Immigration Forum, a center-right group that works with businesses, also plans a 28-state initiative to build support, touching 133 congressional districts.

    Craig Regelbrugge, national co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform and a lobbyist for the industry, said agricultural groups are preparing to oppose any push for new enforcement measures without increases in legal avenues to employ foreign workers.

    Rather than focus on legal immigration, Republican leaders say their priority will be to try to pass border security and immigration-law enforcement legislation.

    Mr. Ryan didn’t emphasize the system of legal immigration when he briefed House Republicans on top legislative priorities for the new Congress, said Rep. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), one of Mr. Trump’s earliest supporters on Capitol Hill. Mr. Ryan “referred to the border-security issue, not immigration,’’ Mr. Cramer said.

    Other lawmakers say they plan to try to attach measures regarding legal immigration, including expansions of various visa programs, to any legislation that toughens enforcement.

    “The demographics of the country cry out for expanded legal immigration,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said in a recent interview.

    Mr. Graham has long backed a comprehensive bill that would include increased legal immigrant visas, as well as tougher enforcement measures and a path to citizenship for most of the people in the U.S. illegally. Mr. Sessions and others who want to curtail legal immigration, he said, were “dead wrong.”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/republic...ion-1481578555
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    “The demographics of the country cry out for expanded legal immigration,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said in a recent interview.

    Mr. Graham has long backed a comprehensive bill that would include increased legal immigrant visas, as well as tougher enforcement measures and a path to citizenship for most of the people in the U.S. illegally. Mr. Sessions and others who want to curtail legal immigration, he said, were “dead wrong.”
    Lindsey Graham is dead wrong.
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    A few years ago - maybe five - our son and DIL wanted to stop at Wal Mart. My husband and I stayed outside while they shopped. We sat down on a bench beside a young black woman.

    I began talking with her and she told me she worked at the chicken processing plant and had only been there a few months. It seems she didn't live in the area, but in a town about 70 miles down the interstate and had a ride for the morning, and a boyfriend drove from there to pick her up at Wal Mart each evening.

    In the area where she lived, there is a big presence of poultry industry from another company. She said she had worked for them until the illegals came in and Americans had gradually lost their jobs.

    She told me she worked 'shoulder to shoulder' on the line with illegals and everyone used razor sharp knives She said they didn't know what they were doing, and it was very dangerous. She said she was frightened she would accidentally get cut.

    I asked if she spoke to the supervisor and she said yes, she had. She said she told him they didn't know what they were doing. He told her to train them. When she said they didn't understand English and she didn't speak Spanish - his response was, 'Well, you had better learn then, hadn't you."

    She said she heard there was another big group of illegals coming in from Mexico and she might loose her job.

    She said this company had a company policy if you were laid-off because of a slowdown, you would be recalled one time. After the second slowdown, you were considered 'ineligible' for rehire. This is not a lay off because of anything the employee did , just because of a slow down in production, which happens. This was the company's way of making a huge portion of the locals 'ineligible'.

    She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'I've just got to have this job.'

    I think about that young woman a lot, and she comes to mind when I hear some uninformed person announce we need illegals because Americans are too lazy to work.

    There are a lot of mechanical solutions to agricultural work - as in field work. We need to allow those to grow and new solutions to be invented. A constant flow of laborers is going to keep that from happening.

    Also if and only 'if', we truly need workers for agricultural jobs, then consider something like the old Bracero program. Bring in workers for a specific period of time, sans family, then they return home. The employers should be responsible for the workers, decent housing, etc.

    This country needs to do some research and find where workers are needed, and make some predictions about where workers will be needed, in the future. Then we need to get to work helping American people become trained to do those jobs.
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    This country needs to do some research and find where workers are needed, and make some predictions about where workers will be needed, in the future. Then we need to get to work helping American people become trained to do those jobs.
    Yes and help them relocate from high unemployment areas to lower unemployment areas so they can take jobs that are available in different areas of the state or country. Companies should offer this. After all, Americans aren't financed by the drug cartels to move around.
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    Thank you for sharing your personal encounter with that poor woman nntrixie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    Yes and help them relocate from high unemployment areas to lower unemployment areas so they can take jobs that are available in different areas of the state or country. Companies should offer this. After all, Americans aren't financed by the drug cartels to move around.
    When I was young (looong time ago), I remember hearing on the news the government had issued the result of research and concluded that we would did/would have a shortage of certain vocations. It would usually go on to report that large corporations were offering scholarships, entry level (OJT) for these particular jobs.

    I know this country has never been perfect, but there used to be a time when it made some kind of sense - now, I just don't know.
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    MW
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    nntrixie wrote (excerpt):

    Also if and only 'if', we truly need workers for agricultural jobs, then consider something like the old Bracero program. Bring in workers for a specific period of time, sans family, then they return home. The employers should be responsible for the workers, decent housing, etc.
    We have a H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MW View Post
    nntrixie wrote (excerpt):



    We have a H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers program.
    I have heard that, but am not too familiar with it. If it is done right, then we should use it.

    In the parts of Texas where I have been, the agriculture work is not really seasonal. It is in the poultry, dairy, beef, and goats/sheep. These are year round work.

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    The H 2A is seasonal, not year round, that's why these farmers don't use it, it's also very strict, requires a certain wage, verified with paperwork, and the employer is responsible for them while they are in the country and responsible for their prompt departure at the end of the season. That's why very few use the program. The last article I read on it said there were 2 million of these visas available and 1.5 million unused.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    The H 2A is seasonal, not year round, that's why these farmers don't use it, it's also very strict, requires a certain wage, verified with paperwork, and the employer is responsible for them while they are in the country and responsible for their prompt departure at the end of the season. That's why very few use the program. The last article I read on it said there were 2 million of these visas available and 1.5 million unused.
    I assumed that was the case. They would rather just hire illegals who are here, or plan to stay here. That way they have no responsibility for them whatsoever. The taxpayers subsidize them for their needs. If they are hurt, we pay their medical bills, etc, etc.

    One of the problems, of course, is there are no repercussions for wrongdoing.

    Speaking of the H1B? visas. It is/was predicated on idea that companies just could not find workers and they had to more or less prove it. They had to prove they had advertised and actually tried to find workers.

    I saw a video, some enterprising people had formed a company to help employers get around those parts of the law. One of the things they talked about was how to get around the 'advertising' part. They said the law didn't specify where you had to advertise. So they suggested you run ads in things like 'knitter's newsletter' (not really but something as ridiculous. It filled the letter of the law, if not the intent.

    How have we reached the point we let people get away with these things ?

    How do our lawmakers, cities, states, school boards, etc., get away with protecting illegal aliens? Any one who makes a statement like that - or even worse, actually facilitates those actions, should be charged, fined until it hurts, and spend time in prison.

    These kinds of actions hurt American people - that is for sure. The most insidious part, though, is the damage to the country. It makes American citizenship - something many of us hold very dear - meaningless.

    How did we get here and can we find our way back?
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