Sen. Grassley to Obama: Executive Amnesty Will Have 'Harmful Effects' on US Workers

Sen. Grassley to Obama: Executive Amnesty Will Have 'Harmful Effects' on US Workers

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said President Barack Obama must consider the “harmful effects” his planned executive amnesty will have on American workers. 

In a Thursday letter to the White House, Grassley said, “I do not support efforts to circumvent Congress on immigration policy, and urge you to consider the harmful effects of some proposals on American workers should you act.”

Obama again indicated on Thursday in Southern California that he would enact executive amnesty before the end of the year. He suggested that he would also give the high-tech industry more guest-worker visas, even though there is surplus of American workers and companies like Microsoft are laying off 18,000 American workers. Grassley noted that “the tech sector layoffs alone have soared 68% for the first half of 2014.” The Congressional Budget Office has determined that the Senate’s amnesty bill, which Obama is championing, would lower the wages of American workers because it would double the number of guest-workers and allow for massive increases in immigration across the board at a time when many families still have not recovered from the recession.

“Acting unilaterally for some businesses without providing protections for U.S. workers would be detrimental to the future of our workforce,” Grassley wrote. “Circumventing congressionally mandated caps would be an abuse of authority, and would diminish the programs we have put in place to protect American workers and visa holders.” Grassley said that “reforms are needed to put integrity back into the programs and to ensure that American workers and students are given every chance to fill vacant jobs in this country.”

Grassley noted that Obama and White House officials have “met with leaders of business industries that rely on cheaper foreign labor in the United States,” and he emphasized that “many high tech companies have long argued that they need more skilled workers from abroad, when in reality many of these companies have laid off mass numbers of individuals.” 

Last week, Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the importance of good-paying high-tech jobs for those who want “pathways” into the middle class. Ron Hira, a public policy professor at Howard University, has also emphasized that high-tech jobs have allowed working-class Americans to move into the middle class. Hira has said massive increases in guest-worker visas would cut off upward mobility for many Americans.

“I realize that some advocates are urging your administration to increase the allocation of visas or green cards available to foreign nationals, potentially through a recapture mechanism of supposedly-unused visas that busts the congressionally mandated caps,” Grassley continued in his letter. He added:

Some have also proposed that the administration reward applicants who do not receive a visa to be issued an employment authorization document nonetheless. Some suggest that your administration is looking to provide work permits and lawful status to workers in the agricultural industry if they have been in the country or working in the agricultural industry for a certain period of time.

Grassley said that though the country’s “employment-based immigration programs have served and could again serve a valuable purpose if used properly,” they are currently being “misused and abused” and “failing the American worker and not fulfilling the original purpose that Congress intended when it created them.”

“We need a President who is a champion for policies that protects [sic] American workers, no matter what industry. All employers who bring in visa holders should be held accountable and prove that foreign workers are needed,” he declared, adding:

All employers, not just some, should be required to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers. All employers, not just some, should be required to attest that they did not or will not displace a U.S. worker when applying for a foreign worker. All employers, not just some, should be required to offer the job to a U.S. worker who is equally or better qualified. Anything short of this is failing the American people and those struggling to find jobs in today’s economy.

Grassley asked that Obama provide him with “details on how you will make sure that Americans are protected, not left behind and ignored.” This is necessary, he believes, if Obama plans to “act without a vote of Congress and without the consent of the American people” to award more guest-worker visas to high-tech companies and potentially grant millions of illegal immigrants temporary amnesty and work permits.

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