House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed any objections to the surprise House amendment that will allow employers in 2016 to import foreign workers instead of hiring roughly 200,000 blue-collar Americans.
“I think these things kind of happen at the end [of the budget process], with these — with these bills… I think we’re doing fine,” he dismissively told reporters Thursday morning.
The long-hidden and obscure language in the omnibus bill creates a loophole in the H-2B guest-worker law, which will now allow companies to import 264,000 low-wage foreign workers next year, instead of the current cap of 66,000 workers. The extra workers will replace roughly 200,000 blue-collar Americans employed by landscapers, hotels, resorts, country clubs and labor-contractors.
The measure will also allow employers to cut the salaries of their full-time American employees, according to people affiliated with the business groups that worked with the House judiciary committee to drafted and push the new measure into the 2,009-page 2016 omnibus bill.
The budget plan will likely be approved on Friday, only three days after it was revealed.
In a Thursday morning press conference, Ryan tried to blame the judiciary committee for the covert outsourcing plan, even though he is the Speaker, and he has the authority to stop the amendment, and to allow House legislators to vote for or against the outsourcing plan during a floor debate.
“This policy went through the committee process,” Ryan evaded when he was asked about the outsourcing plan during a Dec. 17 press conference.
This policy was passed by the full appropriations committee in July, with consultation and approval by the House Judiciary Committee. So if you have any questions about the — the substance of the proposal, I’ll refer you to the Judiciary Committee. But this has been out there for a long time. Our members had listening sessions with the appropriators all during the construction of this bill itself.
“So, got any questions, I’d — I’d refer you to those guys,” said the Speaker, who also rushed the bill though the floor process so fast that neither Republican nor Democratic legislators could go on the record — or be recorded — voting for or against an amendment to expand the H-2B program.
On Thursday evening, Ryan went on Michael Medved’s radio show to again dismiss criticism of the blue-collar outsourcing plan.
“Now there is a little hysteria, hyperbole, and just innuendo with respect to this bill,” he insisted, before claiming
For instance. the H-2B worker provision in here, which is an immigration thing. It is like 8,000 temporary workers for one year, is all this provision provides. It has been a provision that has been out there for months. The committee passed it in July – nobody mentioned anything about it. its a tiny provision, but I think there are those who for various reasons are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, making an issue something that it isn’t, and that’s what you’re kind of hearing and seeing on the Internet these days.
In fact, the program is not “an immigration thing.” The imported workers must return home after 10 months, and cannot get on a “path to citizenship” into the voting booth. That’s one reason why many GOP legislators prefer additional guest-workers — now roughly 700,000 a year — to additional immigrants, most of whom vote Democratic.
Also, numerous Hill legislators and staffers have declined to talk about the H-2B plan since July. It was secretly added to the 2016 budget plan by top congressional leaders at a very late stage.
Advocates for the plan welcomed the expansion, and lawyers for immigration-reform groups say it increases the H-2B program by 198,000, not by only 8,000 people.
Ryan’s press aide did not respond to emails by deadline.
Ryan is correct when he says the planned extension is only for one year — but the one-year extension will sharply increase the number of business groups that will lobby to continue the 266,000-worker H-2B program after 2016, and to let a wider variety of companies use the cheap workers.
Those extra lobbyists will likely be also used to push GOP legislators in 2016 to approve a bipartisan immigration deal, which would provide more cheap guest-workers to companies — if the company lobbyists can persuade Republicans to support the Democrats’ goal of winning citizenship for many illegals.
That was the semi-hidden trade behind the push for “comprehensive immigration reform” in 2013. “If we’re reasonable with 11 million, if we all give them a pathway to citizenship … then the Democratic Party has to give us the guest worker program to help our economy,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said in an April 6, 2013 interview with NBC’s David Gregory. “That’s what we’re arguing over,” added Graham, who quietly started the 2013 push just after the 2012 election.
Ryan’s H-2B expansion is opposed by nearly all voters, and by many GOP legislators, including Rep. Dave Brat, the Virginia Republican who defeated pro-amnesty Majority Leader Eric Cantor in June 2014.
Ryan’s endorsement of the measure reflects his libertarian, business-first, open-borders views.
In 2014, he was about to push an amnesty and imported-labor law through the House when Brat’s surprise win stopped his carefully hidden plan.
He supports the H-2B outsourcing program. “Employers should be able to hire workers on a temporary or seasonal basis when they can’t find Americans to fill the jobs. Wisconsin, for instance, relies on seasonal labor for agriculture and other industries, but due to a lack of seasonal H-2B visas, some Wisconsin businesses face annual labor shortfalls. If we can link legal immigrants with small businesses, we can help spur economic growth,” according to a statement on his website.
In 2013, Ryan even insisted that the United States — home to 320 million Americans — doesn’t have normal borders. “America is more than just a country,” Ryan said. “It’s more than Chicago, or Wisconsin. It’s more than our borders. America is an idea. It’s a very precious idea.”
Obama makes the same claim. In a November 2014 speech in Chicago, Obama claimed that:
Part of what’s wonderful about America is also what makes our democracy hard sometimes, because sometimes we get attached to our particular tribe, our particular race, our particular religion, and then we start treating other folks differently. And that, sometimes, has been a bottleneck to how we think about immigration. If you look at the history of immigration in this country, each successive wave, there have been periods where the folks who were already here suddenly say, well, I don’t want those folks. Even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans.
Employers should be allowed to hire any willing worker, including foreign workers, Ryan claims. “We want to have a system where people can come here and work– go back and forth if they want to… so that we have an open door to the people who want to come and contribute to our country, who want to come and make a difference in their families’ lives, and our economy,” Ryan said.
In his 2014 speech in Chicago, Obama poured out similar compliments for migrants.
One study a few years ago found that immigrants start more than a quarter of all new businesses in the United States — one-quarter of them. Another study found that immigrants and their children start over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies… it makes sense, because being a nation of immigrants gives us this huge entrepreneurial advantage over other nations. If you are willing to strike out, go to someplace new, build from scratch — you’ve got that sense of being willing to take risks and being able to build something from scratch — you have that spirit, that’s part of what the American spirit is all about.
Ryan also echoed President Barack Obama’s anger at Americans’ opposition to large-scale immigration. “Each wave [of immigration] is met with some ignorance, is met with some resistance,” Ryan complained in 2013.
“We haven’t always lived up to our own ideals,” Obama complained at a Dec. 15 naturalization ceremony in Washington D.C.
From the start, Africans were brought here in chains against their will, and then toiled under the whip. They also built America. A century ago, New York City shops displayed those signs, “No Irish Need Apply.” Catholics were targeted, their loyalty questioned — so much so that as recently as the 1950s and ’60s, when JFK had to run, he had to convince people that his allegiance wasn’t primarily to the Pope.
Chinese immigrants faced persecution and vicious stereotypes, and were, for a time, even banned from entering America. During World War II, German and Italian residents were detained, and in one of the darkest chapters in our history, Japanese immigrants and even Japanese American citizens were forced from their homes and imprisoned in camps.
We succumbed to fear. We betrayed not only our fellow Americans, but our deepest values. We betrayed these documents.
Obama also spent much of his Dec. 15 speech praising immigrants as better than Americans.
The immigrants — not the American-born engineers, soldiers and doctors, for example — shoulder the hard work of supporting the nation, Obama suggested.
“Immigrants are the teachers who inspire our children, and they’re the doctors who keep us healthy. They’re the engineers who design our skylines, and the artists and the entertainers who touch our hearts. Immigrants are soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen who protect us, often risking their lives for an America that isn’t even their own yet,” he said.