Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said on Wednesday that the immigration bill is “chockfull of de facto earmarks, pork-barrel spending and special interest sweetners” designed to buy support.
One such provision involves language slipped into the bill by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) that would permit Alaska seafood processors to hire foreign youth for summer work travel programs–something the Obama Administration banned last year. Begich says the seafood industry would be “devastated” without the perk.
“Without adequate processing capacity, fishermen can’t deliver their catch, families lose income, and communities lose tax revenue,” said Begich.
Cornyn dubbed the scheme the “Alaska seafood special.”
The Murkowski-Begich provisions would also label fish processors in Alaska as a “shortage occupation” thereby paving the way for the hiring of more foreign workers under a “W” guest-worker visa program introduced in the bill.
“Immigration reform is a nationwide challenge, and immigration reform should promote the national interest– not the special interest of individual Senators or any region or state or lobbying group,” said Cornyn.
The Senate is expected to vote on the immigration bill as early as Thursday.