The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pleading with Congress to shield certain illegal immigrants from deportation and reject proposed cuts to legal immigration levels.
In a letter to lawmakers dated June 6, the chamber’s chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, called for swift action on a bill that would give legal status to so-called “Dreamers” — illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.
About 700,000 Dreamers had been shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but President Donald Trump rescinded the amnesty in September and gave Congress the option of creating a legislative replacement.
“The time has come for the House of Representatives to pass bipartisan legislation that provides permanent relief for Dreamers and institutes much needed improvements to our nation’s border security,” Bradley wrote in the letter, which was first reported Thursday by Bloomberg.
The letter arrived on Capitol Hill as members of the House Republican caucus were meeting to hash out a possible bill that would codify DACA in exchange for Trump’s immigration policy demands, including border wall funding and changes to lottery and family visas. The fractious GOP caucus has been wrangling for several months over numerous proposals, but it has not been able to reach a compromise that satisfies both its conservative and moderate wings.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has said the Republicans should only take up a bill that would have a chance of being signed by Trump, meaning it would have to include cuts to chain migration visas and the elimination of the diversity visa lottery. A faction of GOP moderates representing heavily Hispanic districts is pushing back against Ryan’s rule with a petition to force a floor vote on other DACA bills.
In his letter, Bradley encouraged lawmakers to reject any bill that cuts legal immigration levels. He also called for lawmakers to intervene on behalf of foreign nationals living in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a program that gives mostly illegal immigrants a reprieve from deportation due to humanitarian concerns in their home countries. The Trump administration has rescinded TPS designations for roughly 350,000 people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti.
“Absent Congressional action, more than one million individuals would lose their legal ability to work in the United States,” Bradley wrote, referring to the combined total of DACA recipients and TPS holders. “In an economy where the number of job openings now exceeds the number of unemployed individuals, removing over one million individuals from the labor force will only exacerbate the problems that employers currently face in meeting their workforce needs.”
The Chamber’s push to keep as many immigrants in the workforce as possible comes as many American workers are seeing their first significant wage increase in nearly a decade. Non-supervisor wages rose 2.8 percent in May from a year earlier, which was the best year-over-year gain since 2009, according to the Department of Labor’s latest jobs report.
Amid a tight labor market, 35 percent of small business owners reported they have increased labor compensation in order to recruit new employees or retain the ones they already have, the National Federation of Independent Business found in its May employer survey. (RELATED: A Record Number Of Small Businesses Are Raising Wages Amid Tight Labor Market)
That was the highest share since the NFIB began asking about wage increases in 1986.
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