Experts Warn: ‘Little Doubt’ Trade Deal Constrains Congress’ Regulation of U.S. Immigration Policy

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The Economic Policy Institute is warning against granting President Obama fast-track trade authority through the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which the House of Representatives is to vote on Friday afternoon, saying the leaked documents from President Obama’s trade deal leave “little doubt” that Congress’ ability to regulate U.S. immigration law will be hindered.

In a blog post, Daniel Costa and Ron Hira argue despite Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Rep. Robert Goodlatte’s (R-VA) assurances – including that of the United States Trade Representative Michael Froman – that there are, in fact, immigration provisions within the secretive trade deal. They write:

Congress’ intent could not be any clearer, but there’s strong evidence to doubt that these assurances will be upheld. If you read these statements closely, you’ll see that most of them concern only the TPP and its lack of impact on immigration policy. But the Trade in Services Agreement, or “TiSA”—another trade deal being negotiated in secret by the Obama administration—is another story; there is little doubt that it will constrain the future ability of the United States Congress to regulate U.S. immigration policy. In fact, deregulating the U.S. work visa system, and therefore opening it up to foreign corporations that provide services (as opposed to goods) is the explicit purpose of an entire annex (section) in TiSA, entitled “Movement of Natural Persons.”

Costa and Hira reviewed the documents leaked by WikiLeaks that Breitbart News’ reported on previously and found numerous issues.

First, one article in the TiSA agreement doesn’t require an economic needs test for certain visas; however, one is currently required under U.S. law.

“To translate, that means that foreign firms would not be required to advertise jobs to U.S. workers, or to hire U.S. workers if they were equally or better qualified for job openings in their own country,” the blog post explains.

This is worrying and problematic, not because there shouldn’t be any foreign competition from service-providing companies in the United States, but because the competitive advantage foreign companies will get from TiSA is the ability to provide cheaper services by importing much cheaper labor to supplant American workers. They’ll do this by paying their workers the much lower salaries they would earn in their home countries (as they often already do in the L-1 and B-1 visa programs), and the United States might even be prohibited in future from imposing minimum or prevailing wage standards (at present, neither the L-1 or B-1 visa program has a minimum or prevailing wage rule).

Costa and Hira note that there is precedent – the multilateral GATS agreement – that places limits on the federal governments ability to change certain guest worker visas.

“TiSA has been written in secret by and for major corporations that will benefit greatly if it becomes law,” Costa and Hira stated.

“The leaked TiSA text makes it clear that contrary to the claims by proponents of fast-track trade promotion authority, the reality is that those voting for fast track are ceding key powers to make immigration law and policy to an unelected group of corporations and foreign governments.”


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