What Colorado's U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, George W. Bush and the national Chamber of Commerce are proposing as "immigration reform" could fundamentally change what it means to be a citizen of the United States.
As it is currently proposed, this bill will be the biggest give-away to the mega-transnational corporations in our history ... turning America into a low-wage nation with a burgeoning population. The Bushites and the national Chamber of Commerce are salivating at the prospect of millions more people who will drive down the cost of labor and benefits, bring in a huge new cohort of consumers and borrowers ... and thereby increase corporate profit.
When even the ACLU is expressing concern over the implications of 'immigration reform '... well, we had all better take a real close look at what Bush and the Dimocrat leadership are up to.
Below the press release from the ACLU are excerpts from a release issued by independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Note especially that Sanders points out the contradictions in the Chamber of Commerce position on jobs and wages -- outsourcing jobs 'over there' is good, but now claim there is a labor shortage 'here'.
We've been fooled before by this Bush-corporatist crowd ... let's not let it happen again.
The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed grave concerns about the due process and privacy implications of the Senate immigration bill. The proposed legislation would create a vast federal database to verify the work eligibility of all job applicants in America - including U.S. citizens; expand indefinite detention; and deny effective judicial review of Department of Homeland Security errors denying immigration status.
"The bill denies essential due process, seeks to overturn Supreme Court limits on detention and fails to guarantee meaningful judicial review," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. "Substantial changes must be made to ensure that the legislation adheres to the values of our country and our Constitution. Without effective judicial oversight, any new program enacted by Congress can be gutted by an overburdened, incompetent or hostile bureaucracy."
The proposed legislation would require every job applicant in America to have their eligibility to work verified by the DHS, using the error-plagued Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS). EEVS creates a massive government database containing extraordinary amounts of personal information on everyone in America, tied to each individual’s Social Security number. If DHS makes a mistake in determining work eligibility, there will be virtually no way to challenge the error or recover lost wages due to the bill’s prohibitions on judicial review.
As a part of EEVS, every person in America would be forced to carry a hardened Social Security card perhaps containing biometric information about the cardholder - essentially a national ID - and present a Real ID-compliant driver’s license to get any new job. The proposed legislation also expands current practice of expedited removal. The ACLU noted that these policies do nothing to solve the problems of illegal immigration and violate the fundamental American value of due process.
"EEVS would be a financial and bureaucratic nightmare for both businesses and workers," said Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Under this already flawed program no one would be able to work in the U.S. without DHS approval - creating a ‘No Work List’ similar to the government’s ‘No Fly List.’ We need immigration reform, but not at this cost."
... What concerns me," Senator Sanders said, "are provisions in the bill that would bring low-wage workers into this country in order to depress the already declining wages of American workers. With poverty increasing and the middle-class shrinking, we must not force American workers into even more economic distress."
"Randel K. Johnson, Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told The New York Times on May 21, "We do not have enough workers to support a growing economy. We have members who pay good wages but face worker shortages every day." Mr. Johnson and many of the other big business organizations and corporations that helped craft this legislation are not being quite accurate when they make statements such as this. The major economic problem facing our country today is not that we don't have enough workers to fill good paying jobs. Rather, the problem is that we don't have enough good-paying, livable-wage jobs for American workers -- and the situation is getting worse.
"Over the last six years, 5.4 million more Americans slipped into poverty, with the national minimum wage remaining at a disgraceful $5.15. And, by the way, Mr. Johnson's organization, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opposes raising that minimum wage. With more than 5 million more Americans slipping into poverty, where are all those good paying jobs that these workers can't seem to find?
"Over the last six years, nearly 7 million more Americans have lost their health insurance. Where are all those good jobs that provide benefits like a strong health insurance package?
Where are all those good jobs that Mr. Johnson talks about when millions of Americans are losing their health insurance completely or are asked to pay substantially more for inferior coverage? ...
... "Despite Mr. Johnson's assertion, the economic reality facing our country is that the middle class is shrinking, poverty is increasing, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider.
One of the major tenets of free market economics is the law of supply and demand. Under that basic economic proposition, if an employer is having a difficult time finding a worker, as Mr. Johnson suggests, then his solution is to provide higher wages and better benefits. That's what the free market economy is supposed to be about. That's what supply and demand is all about. That's how you attract the workers that you need: better wages and better benefits.
"How can it be, therefore, that there is a supposed scarcity of workers out there at the same time that wages and benefits are going down? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
What this legislation is not about is addressing the real needs of American workers. It is not about raising wages and improving benefits. What it is about is bringing, over a period of time, millions of low-wage temporary workers into this country, with the result that wages and benefits will be depressed even further. ...
... "So here is my concern about the immigration legislation. At a time when millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages and have seen a real cut in wages or benefits, this legislation would bring hundreds of thousands of lo- wage workers from other countries into the United States every year. If wages are already this low in Vermont, what happens when more and more people are forced to compete for these jobs?
"Sadly, in America today, more than 25 percent of students drop out of high school, and in some minority neighborhoods that number is even greater. What kind of jobs will be available for those young workers?
This is not legislation to create jobs, raise wages and strengthen our economy. This is legislation to lower wages, and increase corporate profits. This is wrong and is not an approach that we should be taking.
"Corporate leaders are telling us why they want more and more foreign workers to come into this country to compete with American workers. I find it very interesting that a few years ago, during the debate over trade policy, they had another message. According to an Associated Press article on July 1, 2004, Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "urged American companies to send jobs overseas," and said that "Americans affected by offshoring should stop whining." Mr. Donahue told the Commonwealth Club of California that "one job sent overseas, if it happens to be my job, is one too many. But the benefits of offshoring jobs outweighs the cost." ...
... "Another big supporter of bringing more foreign workers into this country is Microsoft. Here's what Microsoft's vice-president for Windows engineering said in Businessweek in 2003: "It's definitely a cultural change to use foreign workers. But if I can save a dollar, hallelujah." Four years ago, Brian Valentine, a Microsoft senior vice president, urged his managers to "pick something to move offshore today."
And Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer has said, "Lower the pay of U.S. professionals to $50,000, and it won't make sense for employers to put up with the hassle of doing business in developing countries."
"What is interesting about corporate America's support for the immigration legislation is that their arguments now distinctly contradict the arguments they made when they told us how good outsourcing is for this country and how good the North American Free Trade Agreement and permanent normal trade relations with China would be. What hypocrisy! One day they shut down plants with high-skilled, well-paid American workers, and move to China, where they pay desperate people 50 cents an hour. On the next day, they have the nerve to come before the U.S Congress and tell us that they can't find skilled workers to do the jobs that they need. Give me a break.
"We all know what's going on here. Greed, rather than love of country, has become the driving force behind corporate decisions. ...