By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama addressed the Senate to encourage lawmakers to ignore calls from business interests including Republican donors to pass the President’s immigration reform proposal.
Sen. Sessions said, “This week Congress received two letters: one from GOP donors and the other from CEOs, urging Congress to act on immigration. The Washington Times reports: ‘Nearly a hundred top Republican donors and Bush administration officials sent a letter to the House GOP on Tuesday urging lawmakers to pass a bill that legalizes illegal immigrants… The donor letter came the same day that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 400 other businesses and umbrella groups fired off a letter to House leaders of both parties, urging them to pass something.’”
Sen. Sessions said, “Mr. Rove and these groups would have us believe this is just about providing amnesty to illegal immigrants. That’s certainly a large part of it: businesses know that legalizing illegal workers will expand the available labor pool for many industries with effect to push down wages in areas where illegal workers might not have previously had access. But there is a phrase in the letter which has gotten too little attention, and which explains what this really all about. Rove and the donors says that legislation must ‘provide a legal way for U.S.-based companies to hire the workers they need.’ That cannot be the goal of immigration policy.”
Sen. Sessions said, “There already is a legal way for U.S.-based companies to hire workers they need: they can hire the people living here today who are unemployed. Or they can hire some of the million-plus immigrants we lawfully admit each year or the hundreds of thousands of temporary guest workers we admit each year, who come just to work. No one is saying these programs shouldn’t exist or be improved, but what these businesses want is as much low-cost labor as possible. That’s what this is all about. They believe the immigration policy for our entire nation should create an abundance of low-wage workers. They, in their bubble, think that lower wages are good for America. Maybe some politicians do too. They’re not concerned with how the plan impacts workers, the immigrants themselves, public resources, the education system, or taxpayer dollars. They’re not focused on the broader economic or social concerns. The focus is reducing the cost of labor. But America has larger and more pressing concerns, such as unemployment and falling labor participation rates.”
Sen. Sessions said that we must make America more competitive globally but that we should not do that by reducing our wages and our workers’ quality of life. Sessions said, “So when these business voices and establishment figures say the GOP needs to support a comprehensive immigration bill, what they are really saying is that the GOP needs to increase low-skill immigration as much as possible.”
Sessions said that the bill passed by the Senate would give legal status to 46 million mostly lower-skill immigrants by 2033 and would create a permanent underclass of foreign workers.
Sessions said, “It’s time to stand up to the self-appointed committees of 100 Republican donors and reject their advice—and the premise of their letter that the public policy of the United States should be based on giving U.S. companies a legal basis for hiring all the low cost foreign workers they say they need. The national interest is to reduce unemployment and to create rising wages. That’s our responsibility. Let’s get on with it.”
Sen. Sessions has been the most vocal opponent of President Barack Obama’s signature immigration reform package that was originally written by the ‘Gang of Eight’ groups of Senators that include Mark Rubio (R) from Florida, John McCain (R) from Arizona, Lindsey Graham (R) from South Carolina, and Chuck Schumer (D) from New York.
The immigration reform plan has been supported by corporations on both the right and the left who are anxious to grow their employment and customer bases.
Senator Sessions was the Alabama Attorney General before being elected in 1996 after Sen. Howell Heflin (D) retired.