- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2018

The country’s largest business lobby pleaded with Congress this week to grant legal status to a million illegal immigrants, saying the job market is so hot that the country couldn’t stomach losing them if they are asked to leave.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also rejected proposals to cut future immigration levels, saying they “would be devastating to our economy.”

Neil L. Bradley, a longtime GOP staffer on Capitol Hill who is now executive vice president at the chamber, sent a letter to lawmakers who have kick-started a new debate in the House on broad immigration reforms.

GOP leaders are trying to craft a bill that can get majority support by granting permanent legal status to illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” combined with major changes to stiffen enforcement, allow for faster deportations and cut future immigration levels.

Mr. Bradley said businesses welcome legalizing Dreamers, and will accept “much needed improvements to our nation’s border security” — though he didn’t say how far businesses would go on that score.

He did, however, demand an additional amnesty be added in for more than 300,000 people who’ve lived in the U.S. on temporary humanitarian reprieves for years, and who he says are now embedded in the economy.

And he rejected plans to reduce future levels of legal immigration, at a time when there are more job openings than people actively seeking jobs.

While some analysts have said that situation could help workers by forcing businesses to compete for them, raising wages and benefits, businesses say they fear not being able to meet their needs for workers.

“In an economy where the number of job openings now exceeds the number of unemployed individuals, removing over one million individuals from the labor force will only exacerbate the problems that employers currently face in meeting their workforce needs,” Mr. Bradley wrote to lawmakers.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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