(Originally filed at 1 p.m., 23JAN09)
No Democrat in New York's large congressional delegation has shown more promise in truly bringing relief to the unemployed, especially in her approach to immigration issues. After only one term in the U.S. House, we still have a lot to learn about Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who was appointed Friday by New York Gov. Paterson to replace Sen. Hillary Clinton. On many immigration issues related to the welfare of American workers, she did not take a stand. But when she did take a stand, it was generally good -- earning her a respectable B Immigration-Reduction Grade from NumbersUSA.
See how she measures up to everybody else in the New York delegation at: http://grades.betterimmigration.com/delegation.php3?District=NY
Gillibrand's support for workers tends to come from a liberal approach. CNN immediately noted that she has "garnered solid union support and a 90 percent score from the American Civil Liberties Union." But unlike many politicians with similar records, she understands that allowing 7.7 million illegal foreign workers to hold jobs poses severe harm to the 11 million Americans and legal immigrants who are looking for a job and can't find one.
PRO-ILLEGAL FORCES AIM TO CHANGE PRO-WORKER STANCE
(Added at 4:30 p.m., 23JAN09)
Already the pro-illegal-alien blogosphere is abuzz with outcry about Sen. Gillibrand's appointment. (Here's an example.)
This is where radical leftists separate themselves from mainstream liberals. The critics of Gillibrand thus far not only condemn her for putting American workers ahead of illegal foreign workers, they also are condemning her for putting legal immigrants ahead of illegal aliens.
New York is full of unemployed workers, including large numbers of legal immigrants. Gillibrand's opponents suggest that she is unworthy of being Senator if she continues to co-sponsor the SAVE Act which would stop outlaw businesses from hiring illegal aliens and would open up millions of jobs to unemployed legal immigrants and native-born Americans.
While Gillibrand stands with the workers on this issue, her critics on the "more-immigration" side stand on the side of protecting the businesses that undercut wages, working conditions and benefits by hiring an illegal workforce.
RECORD OF OPPOSING THE HIRING & REWARDING OF ILLEGAL WORKERS
Sen. Gillibrand's record on immigration is mixed, but primarily pro-worker rather than favoring unscrupulous businesses that hire illegal aliens.
NumbersUSA is the Fort Knox of immigration actions in Congress. We keep track of every vote and co-sponsorship of every Member since 1989 on matters that would change the numerical level of immigration. (See records of any Member of Congress at www.congressgrades.org.)
From our archives, here are most of Gillibrand's immigration actions during her two years in the U.S. House (Her actions shown in red are ones with which NumbersUSA disagreed):
2007: Cosponsoring the SAVE Act to increase interior enforcement Rep. Gillibrand is cosponsoring H.R. 4088, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007. This is a bi-partisan bill led by Democrats in both the House and Senate. The SAVE Act would help reduce illegal immigration by requiring every employer in the United States to eventually use the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system to verify that every employee has the legal right to work in the United States. As well, H.R. 4088 contains other interior enforcement measures such as increasing the number of ICE agents and training at least 250 State and local law enforcement officers on how to perform federal immigration enforcement procedures. Opponents of Gillibrand are suggesting that backing this bill shows that she is not a real Democrat, but around five dozen pro-worker Democrats in House and Senate co-sponsored this bill.
2008: Has Not Signed Discharge Petition to move H.R. 4088, a bill to increase interior enforcement Rep. Gillibrand has not signed the Discharge Petition on H.R. 4088, the SAVE Act, to require use of the electronic employment eligibility verification system, E-Verify. Speaker Pelosi refused to allow a vote on the SAVE Act. A Discharge Petition signed by 218 Members forces a vote. The peition was just a few votes short, and Rep. Gillibrand declined to sign, bowing to the wishes of the Democratic leadership.
2008: Voted in favor of employment verification Rep. Gillibrand voted in favor of HR 6633, a bill to reauthorize the E-Verify program for a period of 5 years. The E-Verify program allows businesses to determine the legal status of new hires and prevents illegal aliens from being hired, thus making the program an important tool in the Attrition through Enforcement anti-illegal immigration strategy. The bill passed by a vote of 407-2 (31 July 2008; 7:44pm).
2007: Voted against an amendment to reduce funding for the visa waiver program. Rep. Gillibrand voted against the first Tancredo amendment to HR 2638, which would prohibit funding from HR 2638 from being used to fund the visa waiver program. This amendment failed 76-347.
Voted on House floor for amendment to fully fund the training of immigration enforcement officers Rep. Gillibrand voted in favor of the Drake Amendment to H.R. 2638, the appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security. The Drake Amendment would fully fund the president's budget request ($26.4 million) for the training and support for the voluntary participation of local law enforcement officers in immigration law enforcement, an important force multiplier in the fight against illegal immigration. This amendment passed 286-127.
2007: Voted in favor of an amendment to increasing funding for the construction of a border fence Rep. Gillibrand voted in favor of the Brown-Waite amendment to HR 2638. This amendment re-directs $89 million set to be appropriated to the Undersecretary for Management\'s account to the Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology Account, with a view towards constucting at least 700 miles of fencing along the southern border. The amendment was adopted 241-179.
2008: Voted in favor of preventing illegal aliens from receiving federal housing funds Rep. Gillibrand vote in favor of an amendment to H.R. 5818, the Neighborhood Stabilization Act of 2008. This amendment would prevent illegal aliens from receiving Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds pursuant to this act, which would reduce the waiting time for American citizens and legal immigrants to get into housing. The amendment passed by a vote of 391-33 (8 May 2008; 11:30 am).
2008: Voted in favor of restricting funding to business that hire illegal aliens Rep. Gillibrand voted in favor of an amendment to HR 5819 that would prohibit SBIR or STTR awards from going to a small business concern if an unlawful alien has an ownership interest in that concern or in a concern that has interest in the small business. The amendment also prohibits SBIR and STTR awards from going to businesses that have repeatedly hired, recruited, or referred unlawful aliens. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program ensure that the nation's small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government's research and development efforts. The amendment passed by a vote of 406-0, with 3 present.
2007: Voted to allow illegal aliens to vote in union elections Rep. Gillibrand voted against a Motion to Recommit H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act of 2007. The Motion to Recommit, introduced by Rep. McKeon (R-CA), would have recommitted H.R. 800 to the Committee on Education and Labor with instructions to report the legislation back to the House with an amendment that would require that all employees allowed to vote in union elections be citizens or legal residents of the United States. Although some Representatives voted against the Motion to Recommit because it would have delayed final passage of the bill, a vote in favor of the Motion to Recommit was clearly a vote in favor of interior enforcement and against allowing illegal aliens to vote in union elections. The Motion to Recommit failed by a vote of 202-225 (1 March 2007; 3:48pm).
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA