Roy Beck's picture

Published:  

  by  Roy Beck

We are opposing the corporate lobbies, Pres. Obama and Republican congressional leaders who together are trying to pass a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that would likely lead to cutting the American people out of future decisions about certain flows of foreign workers.

We have a chance for victory primarily because most Democrats in Congress appear ready to side against Pres. Obama and for American workers. We need to work to hold as many Democrats as possible while creating a majority against the bill by persuading enough Republicans to side against the corporate lobbies and for American workers.

We have sent notices to every Member of Congress that read:

NumbersUSA will score a vote for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) as a vote against American workers.

President Obama has made it abundantly clear that he believes he has virtually unfettered authority to change U.S. immigration law. It should not be surprising, therefore, that his administration is attempting to use the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement to commit America to immigration increases that Congress has neither debated nor approved. Despite a U.S. labor force participation rate that is at its lowest level since 1978, President Obama wants to use the TPP to further reduce the jobs available to U.S. workers and instead reserve certain jobs for foreign workers under the agreement. It is indefensible that Congress would now consider surrendering even more of its authority over immigration to this President in order to fast track a trade agreement that will harm American workers, and the text of which Congress has not even seen. Therefore, NumbersUSA will score a vote for TPA as a vote for continued executive overreach and a vote against American workers.

Vote NO on TPA

Committees in both chambers are set to vote on this any day. A bill could arrive on the floor of the Senate and House soon after.

Why is NumbersUSA, an organization that deals only with immigration issues, involved in a complicated battle over trade policy?

Hundreds of organizations of all kinds of ideologies and interests (unions, environmental, national sovereignty, civil liberties, populist and more) are opposing the trade bill for many different reasons.

OUR REASON: The consequence of passing fast-track trade authority is that any President can much more easily ram through international trade agreements that expand guest worker programs without any public debate.

That's what happened under Pres. Bush during the five years he was given fast-track trade authority. His Administration secretly negotiated trade agreements that guaranteed the opportunity for other countries to send certain numbers of their workers to take U.S. jobs. Congress was not allowed to amend the agreements in any way. It either had to approve the whole thing or to reject it entirely and throw international trade concerns into a tizzy.

Once a flow of foreign workers is included in a trade treaty, that takes away the ability of future White Houses and Congresses to change those numbers. Instead of the officials elected by the American people having control over immigration and foreign-worker policies, international courts basically are given control over the work visas written into trade agreements.

  • Our Constitution gives Congress authority over how many immigrants and work authorizations to approve each year.
  • Our Constitution doesn't give that authority to the President, but fast-track trade legislation essentially does.
  • Our Constitution doesn't give foreign powers and entities the authority over U.S. work permits to foreign workers, but fast-track trade authority essentially does.

In 2007, Congress declined to renew the fast-track trade authority for Presidents, allowing it to expire.

In 2003 in reaction to the Bush Administration including immigration in trade agreements, Congress objected with a strongly worded resolution that was approved UNANIMOUSLY. The resolution began:

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that (1) trade agreements are not the appropriate vehicle for enacting immigration-related laws or modifying current immigration policy; and
(2) future trade agreements to which the United States is a party and the legislation implementing the agreements should not contain immigration-related provisions.

The U.S. Trade Representative and the Executive Branch have been on notice since 2003 that they do not have the authority to negotiate immigration provisions in free trade agreements.

Nonetheless, the Obama Administration has been doing just that with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement that is expected to come up soon.

Here is what was reported this week in The Hill newspaper:

TPP's provisions are largely secret but, according to Curtis Ellis of the American Jobs Alliance, the U.S. Trade Representative revealed that "temporary entry" guest worker visas are a "key feature" of the pact. Ellis said that Obama Administration previously used the U.S.-South Korea trade pact to expand the length of time a L-1 visa holder can work in the U.S. That pact is viewed as a model for negotiating the TPP.

NumbersUSA and its national network of citizen activists were often part of coalitions opposing the Bush abuses of trade agreements. And we were in the middle of pressures that led to the congressional pushback in 2003.

Remaining consistent, our network today is mobilized to stop Obama abuses of trade agreements that would guarantee that certain numbers of U.S. jobs may not be held by American workers.

ROY BECK is President & Founder of NumbersUSA

Updated: Tue, Apr 28th 2015 @ 9:20pm EDT

NumbersUSA's blogs are copyrighted and may be republished or reposted only if they are copied in their entirety, including this paragraph, and provide proper credit to NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA bears no responsibility for where our blogs may be republished or reposted. The views expressed in blogs do not necessarily reflect the official position of NumbersUSA.