Labor Torpedoes Immigration Reform

Can you have immigration reform without a viable worker visa program?

I think that most would answer no. Without a scheme that provides guest workers sufficient to meet the needs of employers as well as manages the flow of people who want to fill those needs we really just set ourselves up for the next debate about how to handle the wave of humans who have entered the country illegally. Unfortunately, devising such a system seems to be one of the stickier parts of getting something done and according to BuzzFeed this morning, organized labor is doing its best to gut any meaningful guest worker program.

According to multiple sources, several parts of the worker visa plan laid out by labor, which is led by the AFL-CIO, are proving to be particularly contentious.

Among the problematic union proposals: a 10,000 annual cap on low wage work visas; barring work visas for any trade covered by Davis Bacon, a federal wage law that would encompass most of the construction industry; and creating an unemployment based trigger for work visas that would come into effect only when employment drops below a specific level, which sources said has been proposed at several levels including eight and five percent.

A cap of 10,000 workers is on its face ludicrous. It’s also darkly humorous that labor would attempt to back door a federal minimum wage for the entire construction industry on the back of something as noble as this immigration reform effort could be. Needless to say, these proposals are political poison for the Republicans. Immigration reform is never going to be achieved unless both sides give up something. Labor seems unwilling to get on board with that sentiment.

In the end we may accomplish some sort of legalization for those currently in the country illegally. That would be a positive and humane outcome. Just don’t call it immigration reform.

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About Tom Lindmark 401 Articles

I’m not sure that credentials mean much when it comes to writing about things but people seem to want to see them, so briefly here are mine. I have an undergraduate degree in economics from an undistinguished Midwestern university and masters in international business from an equally undistinguished Southwestern University. I spent a number of years working for large banks lending to lots of different industries. For the past few years, I’ve been engaged in real estate finance – primarily for commercial projects. Like a lot of other finance guys, I’m looking for a job at this point in time.

Given all of that, I suggest that you take what I write with the appropriate grain of salt. I try and figure out what’s behind the news but suspect that I’m often delusional. Nevertheless, I keep throwing things out there and occasionally it sticks. I do read the comments that readers leave and to the extent I can reply to them. I also reply to all emails so feel free to contact me if you want to discuss something at more length. Oh, I also have a very thick skin, so if you disagree feel free to say so.

Enjoy what I write and let me know when I’m off base – I probably won’t agree with you but don’t be shy.

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