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Why won't the AFL-CIO explain its support for doubling immigration?


The AFL-CIO is pushing to add 33 million permanent job seekers via legalization and increased immigration over the next decade. Union leadership surely hopes the increase in foreign workers will also boost their membership (and revenue), but if that is their sole justification they aren't saying.

Somehow, the AFL-CIO has never had to answer why it lobbies for legislation that would double permanent immigration beyond the current 1 million per year. Much has been written about why the AFL-CIO supports mass legalization - they believe it would level the playing field. Whether the House and Senate comprehensive immigration proposals would achieve that goal is debatable, but at least we know where the AFL-CIO stands.

We know nothing, however, about the AFL-CIO's reasons for supporting what would be the largest immigration expansion in world history.

Politico reports that the AFL-CIO will spend a seven-figure sum on a wave of ads on Spanish-language television meant to pressure House Republicans to pass a version of the Senate Gang of Eight bill.

Politico doesn't mention the doubling of foreign job seekers, nor does the AFL-CIO. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if few AFL-CIO members knew that their leadership's advocacy would double immigration.

The AFL-CIO's "issues" page on immigration includes nothing on expanding immigration. None of the AFL-CIO blogs on immigration (see herehere, and here, for instance) mention that the Congressional Budget Office projects a decade of depressed wages and higher unemployment under the Senate bill.

Writing in 1924, Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) warned of "corporation employers who desire to employ physical strength (broad backs) at the lowest possible wage and who prefer a rapidly revolving labor supply at low wages to a regular supply of American wage earners at fair wages."

In 2013, AFL-CIO leadership and the corporate lobby both support the Senate immigration bill. The AFL-CIO's "Corporate Watch" page says nothing of the corporate lobby's push to pass the Senate immigration bill. Corporations have been laying off American workers while urging Congress and the White House to grant them greater access to foreign workers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, not one of the 17 industries they track has a labor shortage.

In addition to doubling permanent immigration to 2 million per year, the Senate bill also doubles guest workers.

According to the AFL-CIO's "Principles for Comprehensive Immigration Reform" document, the AFL-CIO supports Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs. The AFL-CIO has not explained why they have abandoned that principle.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

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