The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's reaction to a limited set of stricter rules for banks hiring foreign workers answers a bar debate that long has raged. The question has always been whether if we had another Great Depression would the Chamber still continue to lobby for more foreign workers on the basis of worker shortages. This week, the debate is settled. YES, THEY WOULD!
The Chamber and immigration lawyers are in an uproar over a provision placed in the Stimulus Bill by socialist Sen. Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. Grassley of Iowa. Any bank receiving Stimulus money should not be hiring foreign workers while laying off American workers, Sanders and Grassley said.
This concept has enraged the Chamber and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
(The provision) will hurt immigrant workers, the businesses they work for, and the economy. U.S. businesses who are trying desperately to recover financially MUST have access to specialty skills inside our country, so they can keep their businesses in the U.S.
-- From a letter sent by R. Bruce Josten, the Chamber's vice president for government affairs, and Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the lawyers association.
The news service Congress Daily noted that the provision in the Senate Stimulus doesn't even prohibit the hiring of foreign workers while laying off Americans.
Companies would still be able to hire workers through the H-1B program.But under the Grassley-Sanders language, they must actively recruit U.S. workers, ensure they do not displace American workers and ensure that
American workers are not laid off in favor of foreign workers. Grassley and other advocates say the intention is to ensure that U.S. workers are given priority in hiring.
-- Chris Strohm, Congress Daily
Shouldn't this be the standard even during good times? But it isn't. Except for a small percentage of companies in very special circumstances, current law allows corporations to ignore the applications from American students and choose only foreign students for jobs. It allows corporations to fire American workers and replace them with foreign workers. It even allows them to force American workers to train their foreign replacements in order to get severance pay.
But the Chamber of Commerce says it will do a major lobbying blitz on Congress this next week to make sure that those mistreatments of American workers can continue by removing the Sanders/Grassley language.
And don't think the Chamber's incredible greed and callousness toward American workers is all that special.
Editorial writers from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to the Indianapolis Star to probably the newspaper in your region have argued over the last week that our nation is experiencing a labor shortage.
That's right! While the government announces that another 598,000 U.S. jobs were eliminated in January, the elite scribblers of our nation's ivory towers are telling us that we don't need a mandatory E-Verify system to keep illegal aliens out of jobs because the nation is suffering from a labor shortage. They say that the answer to illegal immigration is to greatly increase the number of foreign workers allowed to take jobs here.
This kind of thinking helped the majority of Senators on Monday decide that companies and local governments should be able to hire illegal aliens and use Stimulus money to avoid hiring American workers. Although the Senators put some limits on banks, they answered the Chamber's call to make sure Stimulus recipients don't have to use E-Verify to screen out illegal foreign workers.
With 12 million officially unemployed Americans, the Chamber and its friends still see worker shortages. Is there a point when our elected officials will stop listening to them?
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Feb 17th 2009 @ 11:11am EST