Washington, D.C. – Following is a statement by Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen on restoring worker protections to the Senate immigration bill.
“Legislation always reflects compromise, but that does not mean that every proposed trade-off is right or necessary. CWA is a strong supporter of the Senate immigration reform bill guaranteeing a roadmap to citizenship for more than 11 million aspiring Americans, but we reject changes to critical worker protections that the Senate Judiciary Committee made at the behest of Senator Orrin Hatch.
Senator Hatch is trying to hold the passage of a long overdue immigration reform bill hostage, along with citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. We have heard from Senator Hatch himself that he plans to further erode worker protections, income equality provisions and the middle-class social safety-net.
The changes Senator Hatch proposed in the Judiciary Committee will allow preferential treatment by corporations for foreign born workers at the expense of U.S. workers. Since the senator made clear that he would not support the bill in the Judiciary Committee without those changes, they were accepted.
Senator Hatch's amendments allow high tech companies to bring in H-1B visa employees even when an equally or better qualified American is available. This is especially appalling when recent unemployment for STEM graduates is above 5%. Senator Hatch also proposed a new formula that will allow for an increased number of new H-1B visas annually and that will underreport the extent to which U.S. tech workers are unemployed, along with the elimination of a requirement that companies attest that they did not displace existing workers in order to hire H-1B visa holders. This, in fact, will pave the way for employers to fire Americans, not for cause, but because they can find cheaper and younger workers.
Our nation needs comprehensive immigration reform, including a true path to citizenship for 11 million immigrant workers. It does not need changes that will harm U.S. tech workers. As the bill is debated on the floor of the Senate, leadership and champions of reform cannot allow further weakening of worker protections and our social safety net. A roadmap to citizenship is an essential step toward building shared prosperity, but the Hatch Global Amendment and promised floor amendments restrict that progress.”