While most of the media extolled an op-ed written this week by Tea Party Express founder, Sal Russo, calling for amnesty and increases in legal immigration, they missed the extraordinary defense of the American worker by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
Sadly, the realities of lower household incomes, stagnant wages, and record-low labor participation rates go mostly ignored by our elected officials. Instead, many of them follow the same talking points that Russo used in his op-ed that would increase profits for special interests at the expense of American workers. In fact, both U.S. Chamber of Commerce president, Thomas Donohue, and National Association of Manufacturers CEO, Jay Timmons, claimed labor shortages this week.
But Sen. Sessions called them, and the rest of the special interests groups, out in an interview with The Daily Caller and on the Senate floor.
Americans overall, and especially middle-class Americans, have been pleading with their political leaders to end the lawlessness in immigration, to create a policy that serves the national interest, and to protect them from excess labor flow that pulls down their wages and may cost them their jobs. ... Congress, because of an unhealthy attachment to corporate America and political maneuvering, has refused to give it to them...
We need to tell people who think they can buy bad policy with money and contributions to go jump the lake. We need to tell them with clarity -- we don't represent specials interests, we represent the American interest.
We're not going to be seduced into adopting the policy of a narrow group of billionaires and ignore the legitimate interests of millions of working Americans.
-- Sen. Jeff Sessions, The Daily Caller, May 13, 2014
On the Senate floor, Sen. Sessions challenged the notion that the country faces a tech-worker shortage. Earlier this week, the Obama administration started accepting comments for two new proposed rules that would increase the number of work visas given to tech-workers and their spouses.
We have twice as many STEM graduates each year as we have STEM jobs, so I'm a little dubious of these big business types that complain that they can't get enough people. So, Mr. Donohue and your friends at the Chamber of Commerce who believe in the free market, why are wages down if we have a shortage of workers? Why aren't wages going up?
Sen. Sessions was referring to a study from the Economic Policy Institute that found that IT workers earn the same amount today as they generally did 14 years ago. The study also found that increasing work visas for foreign tech-workers would discourage American students from pursuing degrees in STEM, especially in IT fields.
Over the last week, there were calls by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for more work permits for foreign workers and more competition for America's under- and unemployed. Sen. Sessions isn't the only Member of Congress to stand against the special interests call from more labor, but he's one of the few.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA