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EDITORIAL: Immigration pork

The Senate’s amnesty is a lobbyist’s dream

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Congress is in recess for its annual Fourth of July vacation, so the republic is safe for another week. Members of the House have ample time to reflect on the disastrous amnesty sent over by the Senate.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer proclaimed on "Fox News Sunday" that the Gang of Eight's amnesty bill is "one of the greatest civil rights movements we've ever seen." His high-minded language cloaks the down-and-dirty kickbacks to lobbyists and other swag dispensers. The amnesty passed by a wide margin because it is packed with sweet provisions that have nothing to do with immigration.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for example, got a present for the casino owners of Reno and Las Vegas: an extension in perpetuity of a taxpayer-funded travel promotion encouraging tourists to visit Las Vegas. There's no realistic connection between protecting borders and keeping Las Vegas hotels and gambling halls booked to capacity on the taxpayer dime.

Hollywood and the recording industry are primed to get their early Christmas courtesy of two Republican senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota. The gift, tucked into their border enforcement amendment, gives movie studios a free visa application for "an alien with extraordinary ability in the arts." It's a special favor for a very specific industry, not a provision of general interest.

To secure one more vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont got his "Jobs for Youth" scheme, $1.5 billion for an Obama-style stimulus program hidden away at the end of the 1,200-page bill. Instead of cutting taxes to businesses, which would encourage them to hire on their own, this provision subsidizes summer jobs for high school students.

Another summer work program is carved out for the special benefit of the Alaskan seafood industry, allowing processors to hire foreigners through a summer work travel program. This won the votes of Sens. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Mark Begich, a Democrat.

Mr. Schumer and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, were the most creative chefs, carving large slices of well-cooked pork for corporate allies. High-tech companies with a shortage of trained professionals rely on the existing H-1B visa program to import skilled engineers from countries, such as India, to work in the United States for up to six years. The Senate immigration bill would tell companies that have more than 15 percent of employees on H-1B visas that those employees can't work at client sites. This change would force a lot of high-tech firms to radically alter their business model, rendering them losers under the immigration bill.

The "winners" are companies like Accenture and IBM, which base their foreign employees overseas. IBM, in fact, is called in the industry "Indian Business Machines." HFS Research, an outsourcing advisory firm, recently predicted that many large American employers would simply shift more jobs overseas if the amnesty becomes law. This shift makes certain senators and corporations happy but makes America weaker and less competitive.

It's easy to slip unrelated provisions into a giant bill cooked up by gangs, such as the Gang of Eight, and passed along to the House in great haste. Fortunately, House Speaker John A. Boehner has signaled his displeasure at the Senate's work. "The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes," he says. "We're going to do our own bill, through regular order." The House must resist the squeals from the pig pen.

The Washington Times

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