Companies Lay Off Thousands, Then Demand Immigration Reform for New Labor

Thursday, 12 Sep 2013 06:07 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The chief human resource officers of more than 100 large companies, many of whom have recently cut thousands of jobs, have lobbied House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for quick passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

The executives sent the letter on Tuesday to the congressional leaders, The Washington Examiner reports.

The companies represented in the letter reads like a who's who of corporate America: General Electric, Walt Disney, Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Verizon Communications.

"All want to see increases in immigration levels for low-skill as well as high-skill workers, in addition to a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally," the Examiner reports.

A comprehensive immigration reform bill was passed in June by the Senate. The bill, which was sent to the House of Representatives, was proposed by the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators in April.

But the GOP-controlled House has said that it will not vote on such a huge Senate bill, opting instead to address immigration reform through individual legislation.

In their letter, the corporate officials say new comprehensive legislation "would be a long overdue step toward aligning our nation's immigration policies with its workforce needs at all skill levels to ensure U.S. global competitiveness."

They also cited a publication of their trade group, the HR Policy Association, which says immigration reform is necessary to "address the reality that there is a global war for talent," the Examiner reports.

"The way for the United States to win that war for talent, they say, is more immigration," the newspaper reports.

Noting that the U.S. unemployment rate is at 7.3 percent and is affecting Americans of all skill levels, the Examiner detailed some of the companies that have cut jobs in recent years.

For instance, Hewlett-Packard laid off 29,000 employees in 2012. Its executive vice president for human resources, Tracy Keogh, signed the Boehner-Pelosi letter.

Cisco Systems said in August that it would lay off 4,000 employees, joining the 8,000 who lost their jobs over the past two years. Cisco's senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Kathleen Weslock, also signed the letter.

"Those are just a few of the layoffs at companies whose officials signed the letter," the Examiner says. "It's fair to say a large number of the corporate signers of the letter demanding more labor from abroad have actually laid off workers at home in recent years."

The Examiner cited data from the Center for Immigration Studies, which also opposes the Gang of Eight's reform bill.

"It is difficult to understand how these companies can feel justified in demanding the importation of cheap labor with a straight face at a time when tens of millions of Americans are unemployed," the center says. "The companies claim the bill is an 'opportunity to level the playing field for U.S. employers' but it is more of an effort to level the wages of American citizens."


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