Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) slammed the immigration implications of the year-end spending bill Wednesday, saying the omnibus represents a “betrayal” of voters that fully funds President Obama’s immigration agenda while also increasing the number of low-skilled foreign guest workers allowed.
“The more than 2,000 page year-end funding bill contains a dramatic change to federal immigration law that would increase by as much as four-fold the number of low-wage foreign workers provided to employers under the controversial H-2B visa program, beyond what is currently allowed,” Sessions said in a statement.
The foreign nationals who enter the U.S. on H-2B visas come for low-skilled nonagricultural jobs and work in hotels, construction, landscaping and the like, jobs, Sessions argued, that millions of Americans would like to have.
“At a time of record immigration – with a full 83 percent of the electorate wanting immigration frozen or reduced – the GOP-led Congress is about to deliver Obama a four-fold increase to one of the most controversial foreign worker programs. The result? Higher unemployment and lower wages for Americans,” Sessions continued.
He further quoted the Economic Policy Institute’s conclusion that “wages were stagnant or declining for workers in all of the top 15 H-2B occupations between 2004 and 2014,” and that unemployment increased in all but 15 H-2B occupations between those same years. Further, he quoted EPI, “Flat and declining wages coupled with such high unemployment rates over such a long period of time suggest a loose labor market—an over-supply of workers rather than an under-supply.’”
The provision to vastly increase the number of H-2B visas was included in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill released in the early morning hours of Wednesday. The House is slated to vote on he bill Friday.
According to Sessions, the American people elected Republicans to the majority in Congress in 2014 as a rejection of the Obama administration’s immigration policies.
“That loyalty has been repaid with betrayal,” he said.
In addition to the increase in H-2B visa allowances, Sessions pointed to the lack of conditions placed on the President’s request for increased refugee admissions, meaning Obama could bring in as many refugees — who are immediately eligible for welfare once admitted— as he desires.
”This will ensure that at least 170,000 green card, refugee and asylum approvals are issued to migrants from Muslim countries over just the next 12 months,” Sessions said.
The Alabama lawmaker continued, recalling that in his capacity as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, he send a list of proposals for the omnibus to appropriators intended to “improve immigration enforcement and block presidential lawlessness.” While those proposals were not included, funding for Obama’s refugee effort was.
“The bill also funds sanctuary cities, allows the President to continue issuing visas to countries that refuse to repatriate violent criminal aliens, and funds the President’s ongoing lawless immigration actions – including his unimpeded 2012 executive amnesty for alien youth,” Sessions argued.
Sessions added, “As feared, the effect is to fund the President’s entire immigration agenda.”
He concluded by highlighting the recent frustration Republican voters have voiced, saying that “GOP voters are in open rebellion” because of this bill.
”They have come to believe that their party’s elites are not only uninterested in defending their interests but – as with this legislation, and fast-tracking the President’s international trade pact – openly hostile to them,” he said. ”This legislation represents a further disenfranchisement of the American voter.”