Several left-wing legislators and union leaders are decrying the critical guest-worker portions of the Senate’s controversial immigration bill.
That’s a problem for President Barack Obama, who has described the pending bill as a “historic achievement.”
“You have massively high unemployment for young people, yet we’re talking about expanding visas so that young people from abroad can serve as life guards, become ski instructors, become front desk people, when young people in this country desperately need jobs to pay for a college education,” independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only admitted socialist in the Senate, told the Washington Post recently.
“IFPTE believes it is not appropriate or fair for politicians to trade the jobs of American workers … in exchange for a path to citizenship,” said the letter. That is “a cruel betrayal of American workers,” the latter added.
The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus also signaled opposition to the bill’s guest-worker provisions.
“We want our people not only to have these [graduate-level] jobs, but to build capacity, K through 12, to prepare young people for these jobs,” Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge told National Public Radio in May.
“If you say you’re going to have as many as 100,000 high-skilled visas come into this country every year, then that is saying to my children, ‘You know what? Don’t even go into that field, because there’s not going to be a place for you,’” she added.
The guest-worker programs provide an incentive for corporate support of a bill to which many GOP legislators have not yet committed.
“If we’re reasonable with 11 million, if we all give them a pathway to citizenship … then the Democratic Party has to give us the Guest Worker Program to help our economy,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said on NBC in April, just prior to the completion of the so-called Gang of Eight’s bipartisan immigration plan.
“That’s what we’re arguing over,” he said. (RELATED: Rubio raises possibility of jumping off immigration reform push)
The corporate lobbying has partially obscured strong opposition to the bill from the GOP’s base.
Democrats are hoping to push a bill through the GOP-run House by winning a lopsided victory in the Democratic-run Senate.
“We’re hoping to get 70 votes, up to 70 votes,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer told NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday.