Bill Hagerty challenges Bernie Sanders to oppose 'unlimited green card' giveaway in budget bill

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Sen. Bill Hagerty has challenged Sen. Bernard Sanders to live up to his claims of championing American workers by opposing budget plans to grant “unlimited” green cards for immigrant workers at big tech companies like Facebook and Google.

Mr. Hagerty called the provision, which is part of House Democrats’ budget proposal, an “enormous corporate-special-interest giveaway,” that will enrich billionaires through cheaper labor, while undercutting the job market for Americans.

In a fiery letter Friday to Mr. Sanders, who serves as chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Mr. Hagerty pointed to the Vermont independent’s past statements opposing an increase in foreign labor, and said now is the time to reassert that stance.

“I am sure you must agree that the key to America’s greatness is the strength of the middle class and that a provision that will allow America’s richest billionaires to profit while blocking our most vulnerable citizens’ pathway to the American middle class must be rejected,” Mr. Hagerty wrote in the letter dated Friday.

Mr. Sanders’ office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Democrats’ plans to grant an amnesty to most of the 11 million illegal immigrants as part President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget proposal has gotten more attention, but the legal immigration increase tucked inside the 2,465-page bill could be even more momentous.

The House plan calls for “recapturing” green cards that went unused over the last 30 years. It also creates an exemption from the cap for immigrants here in programs that the tech companies make heavy use of.

Mr. Hagerty said the House would effectively eliminate the numerical limits and led to “unlimited green card” issuance for 10-year window of the budget plan.

“These provisions will allow Facebook, Microsoft, Google and numerous other technology companies across America to employ a functionally limitless supply of cheaper foreign labor in place of willing, able and qualified American workers,” the Tennessee Republican wrote.

He pointed to Facebook’s settlement with the Justice Department last week over claims the tech company refused to recruit or hire U.S. workers, and instead reserved jobs for foreigners on temporary visas.

Polling regularly shows most Americans want legal immigration either kept the same or reduced.

Americans’ views of the big technology companies have also soured in recent years, as more of the public demands the firms come under regulatory scrutiny and control.

Mr. Hagerty’s appeal to Mr. Sanders seemed designed to trigger both concerns.

“These provisions are of, by and for Big Tech, and the multi-multi-billionaires of Big Tech stand to benefit from them the most,” he wrote. “Their effect will be to make Big Tech more powerful and unaccountable and to concentrate even more power in the hands of fewer people.”

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