Sessions Attacks US Chamber’s Move on Worker Visa Program

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013 04:48 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama warned on Thursday that the “shared principles” on a visa program for low-skilled workers reached by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO would cost American workers jobs.

In Washington earlier on Thursday, Chamber president Tom Donohue and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka announced an agreement on three principles governing a visa program, considered a controversial part of any immigration reform plan.

The principles, according to Politico, are: American workers should have a “first crack at available jobs;” businesses must be able to hire foreign workers “without having to go through a cumbersome and inefficient process” — and such a system must also protect American workers; and Congress needs to add “transparency” to the system to know how much labor the market needs.

But Sessions criticized the chamber’s role in the effort.

“Union and non-union workers alike, as well as all Americans, should be concerned about the immigration agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” he said in a statement. “As in the last debate on comprehensive reform, the chamber’s primary goal has never been to establish a lawful immigration system and secure our borders — but to get as much cheap labor as possible, regardless of how it impacts American workers, legal immigrants, and taxpayers in general.

“The ‘shared principles’ announced today are internally inconsistent and even contradictory,” sessions added. “In addition to the Gang of Eight’s plan to make millions of workers immediately available to compete for any job — which the Chamber supports — the ‘shared principles’ of the Chamber and AFL-CIO would add a permanent ‘worker visa’ program.

“Surely, the chamber hasn’t abandoned belief in the power of the market; such a visa program is certain to take jobs from American workers and depress wages.

“The Chamber has been a positive force on many issues,” Sessions added. “This is not one of them.”

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