The Senate’s immigration committee is being renamed the “Immigration and the National Interest” panel because incoming chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions wants to showcase the impact of imported labor on Americans’ jobs and salaries.
The “financial and political elite have been controlling this debate for years [but] this subcommittee will give voice to those whose voice has been shut out,” said a statement from Sessions.
The committee will amplify “the voice of the dedicated immigration officers who have been blocked from doing their jobs; the voice of the working families whose wages have been reduced by years of record immigration; the voice of the American IT workers who are being replaced with guest workers; the voice of the parents who are worried about their schools and hospitals,” read his statement.
“Our first urgent task in this regard is for the Senate GOP to rally the nation behind an effort to halt the President’s unlawful amnesty,” said Sessions’s statement.
Sessions also created a new twitter handle — @ImmigrationGOP — and promised a hearing to investigate how President Barack Obama is using his control over the agencies’ regulations and practices to minimize enforcement of immigration law.
Sessions’ move is an aggressive response to influential business groups that forcefully backed the Senate’s failed and unpopular 2013 immigration rewrite.
Business lobbies want the GOP to sharply increase the inflow of foreign labor for the food industry, for blue-collar jobs, and for professionals’ jobs in a wide variety of business sectors, such as healthcare, education and design.
The business groups mostly approve Obama’s November unilateral amnesty, which blocks the repatriation of 12 million illegals now in the country. Obama is also providing work-permits to at least 5 million illegals, sharply increasing workplace competition for lower-skilled Americans.
Session’s chairmanship of the committee is a problem for business, because he can rally public opposition to any business-backed bills that would boost the inflow of new workers.
Currently, the nation annually accepts roughly 1 million new immigrants and 650,000 non-agriculture temporary workers, who compete for jobs sought by the four million Americans who enter the workforce each year.
Since 2007, the number of working-age Americans with jobs has dropped, while the number of immigrants with jobs has risen by 2.5 million.
However, the GOP’s leadership — including Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell — may try bypass Session’s panel by giving the Senate’s homeland security committee a greater role.
The homeland security panel is led by Sen. Ron Johnson, who is backing a border security bill that would require officials to dismantle more than 60 miles of anti-pedestrian fencing between between unemployed Mexican workers and U.S. employers.
Session’s committee is part of the Senate’s judiciary committee.
His panel includes eight GOP members. They include several GOP immigration reformers, including Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. David Vitter, plus two new senators who were elected in 2014 by a wave of anti-amnesty voters, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis and Georgia’s David Perdue.
The seven Democrats on the panel will fight hard against Sessions’ planned effort to rally public opinion against large-scale immigration, because they strongly favor increased immigration for people who are likely to vote Democratic.
The Democratic side of Sessions’ committee is led by New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the chief author of the failed 2013 Senate bill.