TPP Text: Say Goodbye To Guest Worker Quotas


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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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The Trans-Pacific Partnership would apparently eliminate quotas on the number of guest workers U.S. businesses can bring in from abroad, such as the current cap on H-1b visas, newly released text of the agreement shows.

The U.S. allows businesses to import hundreds of thousands of foreigners each year on a variety of work visas, ostensibly to make up for shortages of American workers. Caps are in place for the visas, including the limit of 65,000 new H-1b workers annually, but the demand outstrips that supply. (RELATED: Qualcomm Lays Off 4,500 Workers While Demanding More H-1Bs)

A section of the TPP agreement related to “cross-border” trade in services, stipulates countries cannot use these numerical quotas to restrict the movement of people across borders for jobs in certain sectors or require an economic needs test.

None of the countries in the agreement may “adopt or maintain” a limitation on the total number of “necessary” people that can be employed in a service sector “in the form of numerical quotas or the requirement of an economic needs test,” the agreement states in chapter 10.

“The plain reading of the text can only lead one to conclude that quotas on guest worker visas would be eliminated under the TPP,” Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning told The Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Why The Senate Should Think Twice Before Granting Fast Track Authority)

Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA, a group that wants to limit immigration, offered another interpretation of the language, saying it does not refer to limits on foreign workers entering the country. The limitation forbids countries from limiting an industry within their own country, such as specifying how many cable companies can exist or how many people they can hire, she told TheDCNF.

President Barack Obama negotiated the massive trade deal with 11 other countries, and the Republicans helping him secure the deal say it includes trade expansions that will benefit the economy and is an important strategic step to strengthen the U.S. position relative to China, which is excluded from the deal.

Congress will have the final say on the 5,000 page agreement, but once sent to Congress the measure will be difficult to reject. Republicans secured Trade Promotion Authority for Obama earlier this year, which severely restricts the Senate’s ability to block or complicate the deal. Just 51 Senate votes would be required for passage, which is a far cry from the typical 60 for major legislation or 67 for treaties.

Here is the exact wording of the TPP agreement mentioned:

“No Party shall adopt or maintain, either on the basis of a regional subdivision or on the basis of its entire territory, measures that: … impose limitations on: … the total numbers of natural persons that may be employed in a particular service sector or that a service supplier may employ and who are necessary for, and directly related to, the supply of a specific service in the form of numerical quotas or the requirement of an economic needs test …”

If the caps on guest workers are eliminated, additional foreign workers could compete with U.S. workers for jobs in the States, at a time when immigration levels are blowing through historical records. (RELATED: Pew: 1965 Immigration Law Exploded Foreign Born Population)

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