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16 GOP Conservatives Reject Obama's Immigration Push

By Melissa Clyne   |   Thursday, 09 Jan 2014 11:35 AM

Sixteen of the most conservative GOP House members have laid out their opposition to President Barack Obama's push for comprehensive immigration bill by arguing that legalizing millions of "unskilled" workers will be the nail in the coffin for Americans already struggling to stay afloat, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In a letter to President Barack Obama Republican Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Phil Gingrey of Georgia, Steve Stockman of Texas, and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, among others, staunchly objected to providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

They cited a Harvard study showing that between 1980 and 2000 there was a nearly 8 percent wage reduction for U.S. born workers without a high school diploma.

"Rapidly expanding unskilled immigration – at a time when factory work and blue collar jobs are disappearing – would represent the final economic blow for millions of workers who have been struggling to gain an economic foothold," the letter stated.

While the bloc of 16 have strong convictions, they are at odds with many in their own party, including House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Business and labor interests have also joined forces to push comprehensive immigration reform.

"We’re determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue said Wednesday, according to Fox News. "The chamber will pull out all the stops — through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics, and partnerships with unions, faith organizations, law enforcement, and others — to get it done . . . Immigration reform is important to expanding (economic) opportunity as well."

Last summer, the Senate passed a bill offering a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants once border security is improved. President Obama has endorsed the bill.

The 16 representatives argue in their letter to the president that passing the bill in its current form is nothing more than political pandering.

"So-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform may be a good deal for big businesses who want to reduce labor costs, and it may be a good deal for progressive labor unions seeking new workers from abroad, but it’s an awful deal for US workers – including African-American and Hispanic communities enduring chronically high unemployment," they wrote.

"Job number one for Congress should be to reduce the unemployment rolls, get families and communities out of poverty and government dependency, rebuild our deteriorating communities and collapsing middle class, and increase wages for American citizens. Your immigration proposals do the exact opposite on every count."

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