If the new Senate immigration bill, S.744, passes, approximately 1.6 million new foreign temporary workers will be given legal status in the first year alone. That’s a number even higher than was estimated for the defeated 2007 immigration bill, according to a new study.
According to study from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), 1,590,833 extra foreign temporary workers will be approved for legal status in the first year after the bill’s passage, and more than 600,000 extra foreign temporary workers will be approved over current levels for temporary legal status yearly after that. The 2007 McCain/Kennedy bill only increased the number of foreign temporary workers by about 125,000 over 2007 levels.
About one third of these new foreign temporary workers will be approved for H-1B visas, or they will be family members of those approved for H-1B visas. The study estimates that about 125,000 more H-1B visas will be approved over the current levels if S.744 passes. Furthermore, about 400,000 extra family members of H-1B visa holders will also be approved. An H-1B Visa allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, like information technology.
On a conference call introducing the study, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, one of the most outspoken critics of the bill, stated that such a massive increase in foreign temporary workers will only make it even tougher for US workers to find jobs in an already difficult economic environment.
“This report from CIS is a bombshell,” he said.
To my surprise, and no doubt the surprise of many, the Gang of Eight immigration bill doubles the annual number of guest workers from today’s level a much larger increase than any of us had imagined. It adds four times more guest workers than the rejected proposal from 2007. Yet today’s employment situation is far worse than when Congress considered the 2007 proposal. This large increase in guest workers guarantees that Americans’ wages will remain stagnant and that the unemployed will remain unemployed. This legislation surges the number of low-wage workers at the expense of the poor and middle class.
Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama echoed those sentiments. He pointed out that the problem comes down to basic knowledge of supply and demand.
“It’s a matter of economics. If you have a large influx of legal immigrants, that increases the supply of labor.”
Whenever the supply of anything goes up, the price of that corresponding unit goes down. In this case, increasing the supply of labor would decrease wages, according to Brooks’ argument.
Senator David Vitter of Louisiana asked rhetorically how adding millions of new workers would relieve the unemployment crisis for American workers. “How do we expect to improve our unemployment statistics, by adding millions of temporary workers to our labor force? We must make securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into our country our principal focus,” Vitter said.
On the flip side, the last several years, H-1B visas have been exhausted quickly by American companies. According to a story from Daily Tech, H-1B visas nearly hit their limit for 2013 in the middle of 2012.
Microsoft, as an example, has been lobbying the government to increase the number of H-1B visas for years.
Jessica Vaughan, who authored the study for CIS, acknowledged that H-1B visas are generally exhausted every year, but said that while increasing the number of those approved maybe good for companies like Microsoft, it doesn’t mean that increasing that number, especially as dramatically as proposed in the bill, would be good for American workers.
It’s been noted many times that the last four plus years have a part of the worst recovery from any recession in the history of the nation. Unemployment is hovering near eight percent only due to a statistical anomaly which doesn’t count those that have been unemployed for extended periods of time. With those counted, the unemployment rate would be well into double digits. With that economic environment, adding millions of new foreign temporary workers will only place an even greater burden on those Americans already struggling to find work.
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