Chamber Of Commerce Speaks Up on Immigration

chamber of commerceOver the past year, the Chamber of Commerce has been pretty silent in the immigration debate. Most notably, the powerful business group was absent from the coalition of Latino, labor, faith, and advocacy groups that fought an uphill battle this year under the umbrella of the Reform Immigration for America campaign to get comprehensive immigration reform on the table in 2010. However, this week the Chamber spoke out on two issues: the $600 million border bill and high-skilled immigrant labor.

Wednesday, officials from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Council on International Personnel blasted the recently approved $600 million border bill that would be paid for by an increase the work-visa fees foreign companies must pay if they have more than 50 employees in their U.S. operations and hire more than half their workforce using H-1B or L-1 visas. The Chamber’s senior vice president for labor, Randel Johnson, called the provision “an easy political shot.” Ron Somers, president of the U.S.-India Business Council, was similarly inflamed. “We urge the Congress and the Obama administration to amend this new funding method for border security and any policies that would harm America’s economic interest and undermine the burgeoning economic, trade and strategic relationship with India,” stated Somers.

Looking to the future, the Chamber also released a report yesterday calling on Congress to reform the H1-B high-skilled labor visa system to “let business and economic needs determine the composition of an employer’s workforce, not an arbitrary quota, lottery or commission.” The Chamber argues, “the best policy would ease the way for employers to sponsor high skilled individuals for green cards by exempting from labor certification and current employment- based immigrant quotas many who now languish in 6 to 20 year queues.” The Chambers calls for “let[ting] market decide on the number of new skilled foreign nationals who work in America each year” and sharply criticizes the position of labor groups which believe an independent commission of experts, modeled after the International Trade Commission, should regularly recommend and update visa quotas in response to the nation’s economic and labor needs.

Ultimately, labor groups understandably oppose “letting the market decide” because experience has shown that often boils down to what making businesses more profitable — which isn’t necessarily synonymous with what’s good for American workers. They claim “broader decisions about immigration policy should not be delegated to employers, who cannot be relied upon to protect the best interests of workers or the nation” and that a labor commission would take a more holistic approach, examining “the impact of immigration on the economy, wages, the workforce and business.”

andreaThe idea of an independent commission has been endorsed by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Migration Policy Institute, which argues that “managing immigration in the national interest requires a[n]…institutional capacity to monitor and analyze information as the basis for making changes.”

However, labor and business appear to agree on one thing: on its own, the $600 million border bill won’t solve any of these issues and will do little to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.

Andrea Christina Nill

Reposted with permission from The Wonk Room.


  1. says

    They say politics make strange bedfellows. Well so does corporate greed. The CoC wants what it’s corporate masters want wich is as George Carlin put it, “more for them and less for us . . ”

    They want an open and porous border because more workers means greater competition for wages, which leads to lower wages, which tanslates into more profit for the corporations.

    Ms. Nill is a shill for the corporatocracy. She has for the past year very artfully played the race card to foment white guilt in the pursuit of open borders. Ultimately, she and her ilk may be victorious. They may get their amnesty and open borders and when they do labor and any worker hoping to make a living wage can kiss their ass good bye!

    I again encourage everyone to read the reports of the US Commission on Immigration Reform, the bi-partisan commission that convened during the Clinton administration.

  2. Marshall says

    If the CoC would create a data base of needed workers, with full skills listed, and then this data base could be available at all US CoCs, at state employment boards, and also at US embassies overseas. New jobs, those less than 30 days in the data base are only available in the US, jobs over 30 days old are available overseas. Foregin workers are checked with locl police, finger printed, and given a 90 day green card to travel to the job. If the worker works out, the green card is extended, if the worker does not work out, it is not extended.

    Do this and 100% e-verify by firms and no one should be here who should not be here unless someone else is supporting them.

    After five years, give them a test, English speaking/reading, and History, then an agency check investigation, and if all OK, they apply for citizenship. They earned it and I saw welcome aboard.

    For those who do not earn it, let them go home. This is a better deal than that offered by Mexico.

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