Republican Blasts Bernie Sanders: ‘Build Back Better’ Immigration Proposals Will ‘Harm American Workers, Take Away Opportunity From’ American Kids

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A Republican colleague has asked U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) why he supports little-known immigration provisions of the “Build Back Better” plan that would allow foreign workers to take American jobs and lower the wages of the middle class. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) said he was puzzled that the Vermont-based democratic socialist would support “the crown jewel of corporate lobbying.”

The proposal would allow Silicon Valley tech firms “to employ a functionally limitless supply of cheaper foreign labor in place of willing, able, and qualified American workers,” Hagerty wrote in an October 22 “Dear Colleague” letter to Sanders, obtained by this reporter and later posted to social media.

“These Big Tech companies can hire as many foreign workers as they want. They don’t have to worry about discriminating against American workers; they can do it all day long,” Senator Hagerty told Laura Ingraham on Monday night.

“The big issue here is we’re going to harm American workers, and we’re going to take away the opportunity from our kids,” he continued. “The last thing we want is for those jobs to be given to foreign workers. … This will knock out opportunity for a generation to come.”

Pages 905-912 of the “Build Back Better” act contain controversial provisions allowing the U.S. government to “recapture” every unused family-sponsored and employment-sponsored green card since 1992. It would also “exempt family-sponsored and employment-based applicants from numerical limits on visas for an additional fee,” according to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), who advocated for the measure along with Congresswomen Kathy Manning (D-NC), and Deborah Ross (D-NC).

Critics call recapturing visas an “accounting gimmick.” Under current immigration law, legal immigrants have two years to use the minimum number of available visas, with the unused minimum of family visas shifting to the employment category the next year and vice-versa.

Hagerty addressed Sanders because the two-time presidential candidate long broke from Democratic Party orthodoxy by opposing H-1B visas and other green card programs that he believes undercut American citizens’ earnings.

“Wages keep going down” for middle-class Americans, he told then-CNN host and immigration enforcement advocate Lou Dobbs in 2007. “I don’t why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are right now.”

Numerous studies bear out the notion that higher immigration rates lower the wages of U.S. citizens. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) reported:

A UCLA study found that H-1B engineers were paid 33 percent less than comparable U.S. citizens. A Cornell University study found that H-1B programmers and engineers were underpaid by 20 to 30 percent. An INS report found that the computer-related H-1B employees were paid a median salary 25 percent less than the national median for their field.  A National Research Council report found that “H-1B workers requiring lower levels of high tech skill received lower wages, less senior job titles, smaller signing bonuses, and smaller pay and compensation increases than would be typical for the work they did.” It also found that H-1Bs have an adverse impact on overall wage levels. The Independent Computer Consultants Association reports that the use of cheaper foreign labor has forced down the hourly rates of U.S. consultants by as much as ten to 40 percent. 

Sanders dismissed calls for free immigration as a libertarian-corporate policy that progressives should reject. “Open borders? That’s a Koch Brothers proposal,” Senator Sanders said. “That’s a right-wing proposal which says, essentially, there is no United States,” he said. “It would make everybody in America poorer. You’re doing away with the concept of a nation-state.” Sanders was so outspoken that Vox wrote a story in 2015 headlined, “Bernie Sanders’s fear of immigrant labor is ugly — and wrongheaded.”

Sanders maintained his stance as late as April 2019, when he said, “If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point.”

No fewer than 158 million people worldwide would move to the United States if they had the opportunity, according to a 2018 Gallup poll. Already, half a million green cards go to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens every year under the “chain migration”/family reunification aspects of the 1965 immigration act.

But Sanders began to shift his position on immigration enforcement before he mounted his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. In a debate in June 2019, Sanders said it was “not appropriate” to deport illegal aliens who were caught in the United States and did not show up for court dates, although the law requires that penalty. He promised to reverse numerous Trump-era border enforcement policies by executive order. Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said that “99% of the people living here” illegally would be spared deportation under a Sanders administration—except only “violent criminals.” Illegal immigrants in jail for non-violent offenses would be judged “on a case-by-case basis.”

By February 2020, Vox applauded “Bernie Sanders’s [sic] evolution on immigration.” His “Medicare-for-All” would furnish “free” health care to all U.S. “residents,” irrespective of their legal immigration status. His “College for All” plan would provide Pell Grants of $12,900 to illegal immigrants covered under the DREAM Act (which never passed Congress).

“The plan that Senator Sanders is putting forward is a disaster for this country,” said Sheriff Mark Dannel of Cochise County, Arizona, in 2019.

“I hope you will join me in publicly opposing these unlimited green card provisions and demanding they be stripped out of the legislation before it comes to a vote in the House,” Senator Hagerty concluded his letter.

Sanders had yet publicly acknowledged Senator Hagerty’s letter as of the time of publication.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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