Immigration debate continues by Mitch E. Perry

03/31/06

Although there has been much discussion about how immigration is dividing the Republican Party, an article in today’s Washington Post indicates a fear that the Democratic Party is pushing an immigration policy that forsakes the party's working-class mainstay.

The Post reports that a growing body of economic research contends that the recent surge of foreign workers has depressed wages for low-skilled workers, especially for high school dropouts, and has even begun displacing native-born workers. That benefits employers, higher-income consumers and the economy at large, but it may exacerbate the problems of the working class.

The internal discussion comes as the Senate debates a proposal to bring millions of immigrants into the legal workforce…North Dakota Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan denounced the Senate immigration bill yesterday, saying: "This is clearly a corporate strategy to keep wages low. It clearly will replace the jobs of American workers

Dorgan has been quoting George Borjas, an economist at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government , who argues that what immigration really does is redistribute wealth away from workers toward employers…

And Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, says that immigrants have begun replacing native-born male workers…He says, “Young guys are being displaced by immigrants…Some of my good liberal friends take issue, but if you’re a young worker under 25, poorly educated, probably African American, the higher the share of new immigrants in your community, the worse your employment prospects are becoming.�

As the discussion over immigration reform continues in the Senate, questions remain how it will be reconciled with a bill passed in the House last December, HR 4437.

That proposed law contains harsh penalties on illegal immigrants and those who aid them. And it’s provisions have been part of the source of the anger that has led to large demonstrations across the country by undocumented workers and their supporters in the past week.

Tampa Immigration Attorney John Ovink , like other critics of the House Bill, says comprehensive reform means more than just penalizing those in the country illegally (roll tape#1 o.q.�it’s not going to work�)

The Washington DC paper Congress Daily AM reported yesterday that immigration legislation is proving to be such a politically thorny and time-consuming topic for lawmakers that there is talk of pushing back final passage of a massive overhaul bill until after the November elections,"

Tampa Congressman Jim Davis says he doesn’t want that (roll tape#2 o.q.�right now�)

WMNF spoke to Congressman Davis late yesterday….We asked where HE is on the various pieces of legislation regarding immigration reform – the more progressive bill sponsored by Pensylvania Senator Arlen Specter, or the more restrictive bill from Majority Leader Bill Frist (roll tape#3 o.q.�into our country�)

Immigration Attorney John Ovink agrees that border security is necessary , but says providing for immigrants to become legal would preclude such things as building a wall or more agents (roll tape#4 o.q.� keep coming�)

And WMNF has learned that there will be a rally this Sunday for immigration reform, led by the group Immigrants United For Freedom…They plan on meeting in front of the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse in Tampa at 1PM…That’s at 801 Florida Avenue..

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