In recent weeks, a flurry of op-ed articles and warnings on social media have charged that that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement now before Congress contains language that would assist President Barack Obama’s immigration agenda.
On Thursday morning, however, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., told Newsmax that this is "absolutely not true" and dismissed the warnings as "the latest urban legend."
"There’s no way we [House Republicans] would sign off on immigration reform in the trade agreements," said the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, adding that he and his colleagues "are unified on this."
Ryan, who spoke at a press breakfast in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, went on to promise that House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte, R- Va., a strong opponent of the Obama immigration program, would have a letter later in the day responding to the mounting speculation about advancing immigration through TPP.
One example of the recent rumors was in a guest editorial in the Capitol Hill publication The Hill
entitled, "Trade Agreement is a Trojan horse for Obama’s Immigration Agenda."
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes an entire chapter on immigration," wrote guest editorialist Curtis Ellis, who goes on to quote the U.S. Trade Representative [Michael Froman] as saying "temporary entry" guest worker visas are a "key feature" of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Ellis’s quote is correct, but it is a comment from Froman and not from the language of the TPP legislation itself.
Late Thursday afternoon, as Ryan promised, Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte released a "Dear Colleague" letter underscoring the point that "[t]here is nothing in the current draft of the TPP that will in any way advance or facilitate this or any other unconstitutional action by the Administration [emphasis added]."
In a copy of the letter obtained by Newsmax, Goodlatte cited a letter and he and other House Members wrote in 2003 to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick.
Pointing to the 1954 Supreme Court decision Galvan v. Press that "the formulation of [immigration] policies is entrusted exclusively to Congress," the letter warned Zoellick that the USTR’s "practice of proposing new immigration law in the context of bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations cannot be reconciled with Congress’s constitutional prerogative."
"Even worse, when combined with the grant of "fast track" or "trade promotion authority" eliminating the legislature’s ability to amend such proposals, USTR’s practice has effectively stolen this plenary power away from Congress. We cannot allow this to continue and must thus insist that you never again agree to include immigration provisions in trade agreements."
In his "Dear Colleague" letter Thursday, Goodlatte points out that "[t]o its great credit, USTR has stood up to immense pressure and has refused to agree to ‘temporary entry’ provisions in the TPP that would allow foreign workers to come to America outside of the terms of current congressionally-passed immigration law.
"Whatever other countries participating in the TPP negotiations agree to regarding temporary entry, the U.S. will not be a signatory."
"The way we wrote TPP, it deals strictly with trade and not immigration," Ryan told Newsmax earlier Tuesday.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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