The Senate immigration bill could nearly double the number of guest workers allowed into the U.S., according to a new analysis the Center for Immigration Studies is releasing Wednesday that says the jump is four times the increase of the last immigration bill in 2007.
That previous bill failed in part because liberal lawmakers felt the new guest workers would compete with Americans for jobs.
But this year, those concerns have been more muted as most Democrats have agreed to accept more workers in exchange for the chance to legalize illegal immigrants.
The CIS study says that when fully implemented, the Senate bill could mean 620,833 more temporary workers in the U.S. than right now. In 2012 there were nearly 700,000 temporary workers in the country.
“Most of these temporary worker increases are just gratuitous and have no economic justification whatsoever,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for CIS, which pushes for stricter limits to immigration.
The eight senators — four Republicans and four Democrats — who wrote the Senate bill have not offered their own estimates for guest workers or the future flow of new legal permanent immigrants, leaving outside groups to try to make the calculations.
CIS says the biggest boosts would come from the 170,000 high-skilled workers that would be let in under the H-1B program and another 155,000 that would be allowed in under free trade agreements the U.S. has signed.
The H-1B increases have already proved to be contentious. When the bill went through the Senate Judiciary Committee the bill’s authors struck a deal with a key Republican, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, to raise the limits on high-tech workers. That deal earned Mr. Hatch’s support in the committee.
Businesses fought to secure a robust guest-worker program in the bill, while labor unions have pushed back. Several unions said they disappointed at the deal the bill’s authors struck with Mr. Hatch.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who tried in the Judiciary Committee to cap the number of immigrants to be admitted under the Senate bill, called the report “a bombshell.”
“This large increase in guest workers guarantees that Americans’ wages will remain stagnant and that the unemployed will remain unemployed,” he said. “This legislation surges the number of low-wage workers at the expense of the poor and middle class.”