Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions has jumped into the House GOP debate over immigration reform, directly challenging Republican leaders, pollsters and one major GOP-allied donor pushing for a massive infusion of foreign workers.
“Bill Marriott, the global hotel magnate who has been lobbying for such immigration measures … said an immigration bill was needed to ‘help us staff positions that might otherwise go unfilled, especially in our seasonal resorts,’” Sessions said in 30-page statement that accompanied a briefing sent to GOP members on Wednesday.
“What about hiring unemployed Americans?” said Sessions, who is in line to chair the Senate’s budget committee if the GOP wins the November elections.
Marriott is a major GOP donor. He and his relatives have donated roughly $2.7 million in 2011 and 2012. Marriott earned a profit of $160 million in the third quarter of 2012, up 12 percent from the third quarter in 2012. The company has a stock value of $35 billion.
Sessions delivered his briefing book to the House members as they departed for a three-day strategy session in Cambridge, Md.
The House GOP leadership, led by Speaker John Boehner, is using the closed-door session to tout a rewrite of immigration laws which would grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants, and sharply increase the existing inflow of 650,000 non-agricultural foreign workers per year. The rewrite has been drafted behind closed doors in cooperation with business groups and some Democrats, such as Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the leading House advocate for an amnesty.
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, the House’s budget chief, is a leading advocate in the closed-door meetings. But GOP critics of the rewrite have been excluded from the closed-door talks.
“The GOP leaders’ [immigration] plan appears to be similar to the Senate Democrat / White House plan,” which passed the Senate in June, Sessions said. That Senate plan is “a hammer blow to the American middle class,” he wrote.
Numerous GOP legislators oppose the GOP leadership’s push to reform the immigration system. They say it could distract public attention from Obamacare, split the party during the run-up to the 2014 elections, and won’t increase Latino support for the GOP.
Sessions’ direct challenge to the GOP’s business-backed push clashes with the widespread belief among progressives and journalists that they are the champions of workers, both American and foreign.
Sessions also jabbed at reporters who cover the immigration issue, who usually fail to include any data in their articles. ”In the rush to pass an immigration bill, there has been a near absence of any serious thought about the conditions facing American workers,” Sessions wrote.
For example, few journalists acknowledge the White House’s strategy of allying with business to pressure the GOP into accepting a huge inflow of Democratic-leaning immigrants. (RELATED: Obama rallies immigration advocates for 2014 race)
The inflow could reach up to 30 million by 2014 if the bill passed by the Senate last June is accepted by GOP leaders. That’s a huge number of immigrants, given that four million Americans turn 18 each year and 28 million teenagers will begin looking for jobs in the next five years. It is also more than the total number of African-Americans in the workforce, now almost 19 million.
The Senate bill would also sharply increase the resident population of roughly 800,000 university-trained, low-wage guest-workers. That population is now roughly level with the number of Americans who graduate each year with skilled degrees, and is distributed through the nation’s cities and universities.