Tags: Barack Obama | George W. Bush | Immigration | Jeff Sessions | immigration | Trans-Pacific Partnership | Obama administration

Sen. Sessions: Trade Deal Could Trigger Flood of Illegals

Image: Sen. Sessions: Trade Deal Could Trigger Flood of Illegals
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 11:56 AM

Opponents of granting the Obama administration broad authority to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, led by Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, contend that the White House will try to use the deal to trigger a flood of new immigrants into the United States, Politico reported.

Backers of the deal, led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, have dismissed Sessions' argument as an "urban legend" and said there is nothing in the current draft of the trade agreement affecting immigration.

"There's nothing in this bill that applies to immigration, and we've been assured by the administration that there will be nothing in any of the trade pacts that will involve immigration," Hatch, a Utah Republican, said Monday.

Immigration "is a false issue" with regard to the trade measure, Hatch added. "We made sure it's not in there."

Sessions, for one, isn't buying it.

There are "numerous ways" the trade deal "could facilitate immigration increases above current law — and precious few ways anyone in Congress could stop its happening," Sessions wrote in a memo circulated during the weekend.

He argued that language aimed at bringing more foreign workers into the United States could be added to the agreement.

Past trade deals suggest there is precedent for such a move. In 2002, Sessions opposed giving President George W. Bush trade promotion authority. The following year, the Bush administration included temporary visas from Singapore and Chile in their respective trade pacts despite opposition from Congress.

But during negotiations over the current trade deal, the Obama administration has informed Congress that immigration has no role in the current talks.

In an April 22 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman repeated his promise that no provisions of the Trans-Pacific deal (TPP) would lead to changes in U.S. immigration law or regulations.

"I … welcome the opportunity to clarify that the United States is not negotiating and will not agree to anything in TPP that would require any modification to U.S. immigration law or policy or any changes to the U.S. visa system," Froman wrote Grassley.

After receiving Froman's assurances, Grassley said he decided not to offer an amendment addressing these concerns during the Finance Committee's markup of the fast-track bill.

Grassley did say, however, that he may do so when the measure is debated on the Senate floor. And Sessions himself could decide to offer immigration-related amendments to the trade measure.

In fact, among congressional Republicans there is a deep and abiding skepticism of the Obama administration's promises and considerable doubt it is acting in good faith on immigration. Critics point to the president's "executive amnesty" push and the administration's admission that it misled a federal judge over the issue.

Rep. Mo Brooks an Alabama Republican who is sharply critical of the Obama administration's immigration policies but undecided about giving the Obama administration so-called "fast-track" authority to negotiate trade deals put his position this way: "If there is any chance whatsoever of the Obama administration using any of these trade bills to increase this huge influx in foreign labor to the detriment of American citizens, I'm a 'no' vote."

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Opponents of granting the Obama administration broad authority to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, led by Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, contend that the White House will try to use the deal to trigger a flood of new immigrants.
Jeff Sessions, immigration, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama administration
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2015-56-05
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 11:56 AM
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