Gutierrez amnesty bill and "The Commission"
December 23, 2009, 07:54 PM
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Health reform isn't the only bad news coming from Washington DC. Just 10 days before Christmas another Congressional grinch decided it's the right time to spoil the holiday cheer for hard working Americans. Grinch's name is Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). He introduced a stinker of an amnesty bill called the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009" (H.R. 4321).

The Gutierrez bill means more foreign workers and less jobs for Americans.

There are so many things to dislike about this bill that I'm not going to go into them in detail because many others like FAIR and NumbersUSA have done in depth analysis of the bill. Surprisingly the FAIR analysis didn't even mention H-1B while NumbersUSA greatly understates the impact of HR 4321 on H-1B. According to NumbersUSA:

The bill would attempt to close up some of the loopholes in current visa classes, more specifically the H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, but the bill would not reduce the number of these visas currently issued.

NumbersUSA is correct that the bill won't reduce the number of visas, but that's only part of the problem because there is a potential that H-1B could have no upper limit. Let me state that another way — H-1B could have no limits to the number of visas so employers can hire as many as they want! Later in the document NumbersUSA makes things worse by agreeing that the bill will improve enforcement, which is a red herring that the cheap labor lobby uses to convince the public that all we need to do to make things fair for Americans is to enforce the loopholes. The loopholes NumbersUSA says are being closed won't make a dime's worth of difference to American workers who will be replaced by hoards of new H-1Bs that will be coming to the U.S.

The portion of H.R. 4321 dealing with H-1B goes by the Orwellian header of "TITLE V—STRENGTHENING THE U.S. ECONOMY AND WORKFORCE". It contains the scariest section titled "Sec. 501. Commission on Immigration and Labor Markets." The Commission will determine things like the number of H-1B visas allowed into the U.S. and the acceptable unemployment rate in the U.S. The only good thing about the bill is that it acknowledges that Americans will be displaced — but it doesn't set an acceptable level of displacement, so the commission can do whatever they deem fit. Hopefully Alan Greenspan won't be appointed!

[The commission] will establish employment-based immigration policies that promote America’s economic growth and competitiveness while minimizing job displacement, wage depression and unauthorized employment in the United States; (p 499)

While the commission will make recommendations of policies to Congress, at first blush they don't appear to have the power to set policy. For the unwary this would seem to relieve the fear that this commission is a thinly veiled attempt to usurp the power and Constitutional responsibility of Congress to regulate immigration. Don't be fooled because the commission will do much more than make recommendations to Congress and the President — they will hand Congress amendments that will become law after Congress rubber stamps them! The amendments will instruct Congress how many H-1B visas are to be issued for a given calendar year.

[The commission will] annually thereafter, submit a report to the President and Congress that— contains any amendments to the numeric levels set according to the procedures in subsection (c)(2), which shall take effect in the same manner described therein unless disapproved by the passage of a resolution in Congress; (p. 504)

The commission will also issue studies and write papers. Good thing since that's about all that academics ever actually accomplish besides making exorbitant salaries and receiving plush benefits!

[The commission will] recommend to the Congress and the President on a regular basis an evidence-based methodology for determining the level of employment-based immigration; and recommend to Congress and the President the numeric levels and characteristics of workers to be admitted in various employment based visa categories. (p. 500)

The fate of the American worker will lie at the feet of "The Commission". So, it's reasonable to ask who will be in the commission? The bill answers that question: the entire commission is appointed by the President, so, hopefully if this bill is passed the next President won't be like the current and last two administrations who supported expanding the numbers of H-1B visas

[they] shall have expertise in economics, demography, sociology, labor, business, civil rights, immigration or other pertinent qualifications or experience; (p. 501)

Guess what that means? It means that the commission will be stacked with lobbyists and flat-earthers like Thomas Friedman. If that doesn't sound bad enough the commission will also have a cadre of government bureaucrats that are all appointed by the President. Actually the entire commission will be appointed by the Prez. Herein lies an egregious loophole — there are no requirements that commission members must be American citizens — they could be foreign politicians or even CEOs of foreign owned companies! Here is a partial list of ex-officio bureaucrats that will be in the commission:

the Secretary;
the Secretary of State;
the Attorney General;
the Secretary of Labor;
the Secretary of Commerce
the Secretary of Health and Human Services
the Secretary of Agriculture; and
the Commissioner of Social Security
the Secretary of Agriculture; and
the Commissioner of Social Security (p. 501)

In case you were wondering who the "Secretary" is at the top of the list, the bill defines it further down (Sec 515) as the "Secretary of Labor". Oops, that means there are really only 7 choices since that position is listed twice. Somebody goofed big time!

The bureaucrats have to be 50% from the Republican or Democratic party. Unfortunately support for expansion of the H-1B program is non-partisan so this requirement is a meaningless gesture.

Keep reading though — because the bill gets worse! The meaning of the following passage would probably be missed by most people:

[they will] establish collaborative relationships with international organizations and agencies in countries of origin to encourage the deposit of remittances with financial institutions that will reinvest the remittances received from the United States to promote job development in those countries of origin that have sent immigrants to the United States. (p. 505)

Let me just translate what this means in plain English. The globalists in the U.S. will conspire with the globalists in the countries where the H-1Bs are coming from to make totalization payments. That means that income taxes and social security payments will be sent back to the country of origin — TO CREATE JOBS THERE INSTEAD OF THE UNITED STATES! Let's state this another way — the taxes paid by the H-1Bs will be used for stimulus funds in their home countries.

The commission has lots of regulatory powers, including the authority make their own rules and to grant their director pay raises. Whoever wrote this section designed the commission to function just like corporate boards of directors who vote for pay raises for their CEOs:

POWERS OF THE COMMISSION.—
The Commission, by vote of a majority of the members present and voting, shall have the power to—
(A) establish general policies and promulgate such rules and regulations for the Commission as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this section;
(B) appoint and fix the salary and duties of the Staff Director of the Commission, (p. 506)

The commission has lots of other powers — for instance the authorization to hire private attorneys in case an American worker decides to sue them for conspiracies to undermine their careers; or perhaps if someone filed a lawsuit accusing them of other forms of malfeasance:

[the commission can] retain and, in its discretion pay reasonable attorneys’ fees out if its appropriated funds to, private attorneys who— shall provide legal advice to the Commission in the conduct of its work, or to appear for or represent the Commission in any case in which the Commission is authorized by law to represent itself, or in which the Commission is representing itself with the consent of the Department of Justice; (p. 510)

The commission has the authority to outsource work by hiring consultants and nothing specifies where the consultants have to be so it's safe to assume that Indian owned companies such as Tata or Infosys would be eligible for the jobs.

Commission members and their staff can be compensated for junkets to wherever the deem they need to travel to.

COMPENSATION AND TRAVEL EXPENSES.

CONSULTANT SERVICES. The Commission may procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance...

COMPENSATION.—Each voting member of the Commission may be compensated at a rate not to exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay (p. 512)

If all of this doesn't seem long enough, there is much, much, more. The remaining parts of the bill are regurgitated portions of another bill that Gutierrez and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) tried to push called the "Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act of 2007" (STRIVE Act). More appropriate alternative names for this bill were popular in 2007 — two good ones were the "STARVE ACT" and the "SCREW BILL".

There is much more to the bill, but since this is getting rather long I'll just mention a few sections and perhaps revisit them in future blogs.

SEC. 503. AMERICAN RECRUIT AND MATCH SYSTEM. This is just another version of "America's Job Bank", which has been proposed in almost all bills that propose to expand H-1B. It boils down to an internet based job service that is run by the government but looks sort of like Dice or Monster. It will give Americans the illusion that they can apply for the same jobs that H-1Bs have been hired for.

CHAPTER 2—PROTECTION OF WORKERS RECRUITED ABROAD SEC. 511. PROTECTIONS FOR WORKERS RECRUITED ABROAD. It's worth noting, and perhaps symbolic, that protecting H-1Bs from abuse appears before anything that protects American workers. H-1B "protections" begin on page 518 while protections for Americans begins on page 526.

SEC. 515. DEFINITIONS. Just in case you think you know every state in the union, read this:

OTHER DEFINITIONS.—As used in this chapter:
The term ��State’’ means any State of the United States and includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands of the United States. (p. 525)

Subtitle B—Reforms of Certain Classes of Employment-based Visas CHAPTER 1—H–1B VISA FRAUD AND ABUSE PROTECTIONS. This section is almost an afterthought. It's mostly "feel good" boilerplate from the STRIVE Act. Gutierrez hopes you will read it and feel so, so good!

H.R. 4321 is sponsored by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) (a Hispanic acting as a stooge for Gutierrez) and has 92 co-sponsors, all of which are Democrats. That's a very strong showing for a newly introduced bill. The only good news is that at this point in time there is no bi-partisan support. In comparison the Durbin/Grassley bill to reform H-1B hasn't been able to get a single co-sponsor in over two years.