The head of NumbersUSA believes the bill would double the number of foreign workers in the country, leading to lower wages
Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, an advocacy group that wants to roll back immigration to pre-1965 levels, discusses efforts to derail the comprehensive immigration reform being considered by Congress.
Why do you so fervently oppose the bill?
What we have in the Senate is an incredible display of the power of corporate money on both the Democratic and Republican party, aimed at driving a massive increase in foreign workers during one of the worst unemployment periods in our history. They have done it by focusing on humanitarianism toward illegal aliens. Most of the debate has been about that. But this bill is really about doubling the amount of foreign workers that would be brought into this country.
Why do so many in the GOP support immigration reform that might lead to an influx of new Democratic voters?
Because the Republican corporate establishment is always enamored with loose labor markets. That's when you have a whole lot more workers than you have jobs. Therefore, every time an employer puts up a "help wanted" sign, they have a lot more people applying for work than they have jobs. It's better for employers, and it keeps wages down. The Senate bill will lower wages and increase unemployment.
Why would Republican lawmakers agree to anything that increases unemployment?
I don't think the Republicans' core establishment wants to reduce employment, but they do want to lower wages because that increases profits. It's a way toward easy profits. That has been our economy for a long time. Even in this recovery, profits have gone up, but wages have not gone up. And that is because there is no need to share profits with workers because there are so many workers.
You say this will cost Republicans votes, but why would the GOP back a plan that would lead to election losses?
One of the reasons the Republicans on the Gang of Eight put a 13-year waiting period for illegal immigrants to have the right to vote is because most of them won't have much of their political career left after the 13 years is up. I think they know this is going to increase the Democratic advantage among voters, but what they want is short term. They want to get the preachers and the editorial writers off their backs. So, their idea is, "let's get this off the table. Let's change the subject."
What about lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio, and Rep. Paul Ryan, who back comprehensive immigration reform but are clearly eyeing big futures in politics?
I think what is going on in the heads of people like Ryan and Rubio is that none of this is going to affect the votes in 2016 and 2020. This gigantic influx of Democratic votes is going to happen well after they run for president. They are going to be running in 2016 or 2020, and this wave of legalized immigrants isn't going to create a new wave of Democratic voters until 2028. They are hoping to get their presidential runs in before this hits, but to get immigration reform off the table for the next four or eight years so it is not a big election topic.
The future of immigration reform legislation now centers on the House. What do you think will happen?
The Republican corporate establishment doesn't have the same hold on House Republicans that it has on Senate Republicans because there are just so many more representatives. And the representatives, as candidates, don't depend on the corporate establishment the way the Senate candidates do.
What does that mean for immigration reform?
The corporate establishment does have control over the House Republican leaders -- Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. You might notice how much at odds they are with most of the members of the House. Boehner had been saying that this was the year to pass immigration reform, but behind closed doors with the Republican members in the past three or four weeks, it has gotten really ugly. The Republican members are telling him that they will remove him as speaker if he brings the Senate bill to the floor. There are members threatening that.
So, what will Boehner do?
He is going to move smaller immigration reform bills that are now moving through the House Judiciary Committee that address agricultural workers and bringing in skilled workers. I wouldn't be surprised to see some kind of Dream Act measure as well.
Can Congress pass a bill this year?
It is very difficult to see how this House and the Senate can come to an agreement on immigration this year. They are so diametrically opposed to each other on what ought to happen. I would be surprised if they do pass a bill.
How outnumbered are you in your fight against this legislation?
A month ago, the Sunlight Foundation calculated that $1.5 billion has been spent lobbying to pass immigration reform. I doubt you can find $20 million that has been spent lobbying to stop it. In fact, 1,700 lobbyists are registered to lobby for immigration reform. I doubt you can find 10 people registered to lobby against it.