GOP subverts US tech workers
By Joe Guzzardi
From an unlikely place – deep red Kansas – comes a plot to add to the cheap labor workforce. In 2016, President Donald Trump carried Kansas by more than 20 points. Nevertheless, Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, from Kansas’ 3rd District, joined up with other cheap labor addicts to subvert American workers.
Yoder, hellbent on creating maximum wreckage on U.S. tech workers, introduced his Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, HR 392, which seeks to eliminate per-country caps that establish a ceiling for citizens from individual countries. Critics view removing country caps as a not-so-thinly veiled attempt to import more low wage H-1B visa workers, predominantly Indian nationals.
As well, various amendments were attached to a must-pass Department of Homeland Security funding bill to undermine American workers. Another House Republican, Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, introduced an amendment that would allow the H-2A agricultural guest worker visa to be used for year-round workers. Currently, the visa is limited to temporary or seasonal agricultural workers. The Newhouse change would extend the already unlimited number of H-2A visas issued each year to include dairy farmers.
Additionally, the amendment by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., would permanently exempt returning workers from being counted against the annual 66,000 H-2B cap. Employers use the H-2B visa to hire low-skilled or temporary landscaping, hospitality and seafood processing foreign workers. Harris’ amendment could quadruple the H-2B annual allotment.
The amendments subject vulnerable underemployed Americans to more job competition from employment-based visa holders, a victory for the relentless pro-immigration lobbyists, but a defeat for struggling working Americans across industries.
In his Aug. 7 letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow excoriated Yoder, and predicted that the major illegal immigration increases sure to follow will harm all Americans, especially blacks.
Kirsanow wrote that illegal immigration, and high legal-immigration levels, have been largely responsible for the declining employment prospects and wages of low-skilled Americans generally, and black men in particular. Collectively, the amendments endanger the 3.9 percent unemployment rate, the 6.5 percent black unemployment rate, and the 2.8 percent wage and benefits gain, the decade’s largest.
Appropriations committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., allowed the amendments to pass on spineless voice votes, the apex of political cowardice. The full Congress didn’t debate the amendments or allow for public comment, the time-honored process for creating laws. After the bill passed along party lines, 29-22, committee members skedaddled out of town to begin their undeserved vacations.
Not all is lost, however. The House Rules Committee can strip the amendments. Even if they slip through, a full House vote awaits as well as a Senate-House conference and President Trump’s veto pen. But Yoder and the other Republicans have revealed themselves to their constituents as the dupes of special interest groups.
Still, the committee’s shameless anti-American worker actions leave a nasty aftertaste among voters who hope for better, but are rarely rewarded.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years.