Labor Torpedoes Immigration Reform

Can you have immigration reform without a viable worker visa program?

I think that most would answer no. Without a scheme that provides guest workers sufficient to meet the needs of employers as well as manages the flow of people who want to fill those needs we really just set ourselves up for the next debate about how to handle the wave of humans who have entered the country illegally. Unfortunately, devising such a system seems to be one of the stickier parts of getting something done and according to BuzzFeed this morning, organized labor is doing its best to gut any meaningful guest worker program.

According to multiple sources, several parts of the worker visa plan laid out by labor, which is led by the AFL-CIO, are proving to be particularly contentious.

Among the problematic union proposals: a 10,000 annual cap on low wage work visas; barring work visas for any trade covered by Davis Bacon, a federal wage law that would encompass most of the construction industry; and creating an unemployment based trigger for work visas that would come into effect only when employment drops below a specific level, which sources said has been proposed at several levels including eight and five percent.

A cap of 10,000 workers is on its face ludicrous. It’s also darkly humorous that labor would attempt to back door a federal minimum wage for the entire construction industry on the back of something as noble as this immigration reform effort could be. Needless to say, these proposals are political poison for the Republicans. Immigration reform is never going to be achieved unless both sides give up something. Labor seems unwilling to get on board with that sentiment.

In the end we may accomplish some sort of legalization for those currently in the country illegally. That would be a positive and humane outcome. Just don’t call it immigration reform.

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