Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

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The Senate started its summer recess without taking up the E-Verify reauthorization bill (H.R. 6633) the House passed by a 407-2 margin. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has been holding E-Verify hostage in the Senate until he gets 500,000 additional permanent foreign worker visas. These are simple "skilled" visas, where an individual doesn't need any specialized training or education (other than two years of college). As such, the legislation would keep a half-million Americans out of work. Before the House adjourned for recess, the House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee passed by an 8-1 margin legislation (H.R. 5882) that mirrors the Menendez visa giveaway plan. See Roy Beck's blog concerning these wrongheaded efforts in Congress.

Senate Action

Senator Menendez is holding the reauthorization of E-Verify hostage until Congress submits to his demand to drastically increase the number of permanent, employment-based visas to be made available to US employers seeking to import foreign workers to permanently take American jobs. He claims that he would do this by “recapturing unused” employment-based visas from as far back as 1991 and then add them to the current numerical cap of 140,000 employment-based visas that are available each year. Current law, however, clearly states that any employment-based visas not used in one year are allocated to the family-preference categories in the following year. That means that there are no “unused” visas from past years to “recapture.”

At a time when skilled Americans and students aspiring to those jobs are finding a depressed job market, Sen. Menendez is insisting on flooding their occupations with even more foreign workers. And if he doesn't get his way, he will take away the best tool that employers have to keep illegal foreign workers from taking jobs at every rung of the ladder, but especially at the lower-skilled job level.

The Menendez behind-the-scenes scheme to trade E-Verify for more foreign workers came into public view on July 30 after a group of Republican Senators held a press conference to call for Senate passage of a reauthorization bill. Menendez was actively negotiating with Senators to save at least part of his visa giveaway plan after Senate leadership suggested the bill might be taken up during the final hours before the Senate’s recess. The Menendez scheme will again become an issue when the Senate considers H.R. 6633 in September.

House Action

Rep. Lofgren early this morning rammed legislation (H.R.5882) through the House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee that mirrors the Menendez visa giveaway plan. No amendments were allowed during deliberations. The lopsided 8-1 vote does not reflect the valiant efforts of Rep. Steve King to hold off a vote on the bill. H.R. 5882 will be taken up by the full Judiciary Committee when members return in September.
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Updated: Wed, Dec 30th 2009 @ 10:30am EST