Republicans amaze me with their short-sightedness. In the mid-term
elections in 2006 the Republican Party lost control of both Houses of
Congress. There were many factors which contributed to the loss. One
of the most prominent was their failure to enact legislation that would
curb the flow of illegal immigrants into this country and begin
enforcing America’s borders. It seems the electoral loss did little to
correct their oversight.
Last week Republican
Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (R-FL) signed a discharge petition to
bring H.R. 1843, sponsored by Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI), with
the misleading title of the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act,
to the House Floor for a vote. The bill would “amend the Immigration
and Nationality Act to exempt certain returning H-2B aliens [temporary
non-agricultural worker] from annual numerical limitations” before the
program expires. Currently the number of H-2B visas is capped at
66,000 a year. If this legislation were passed there would be no limit
to the number of nonresident immigrants who could work in the United
States in construction, landscaping, food services, tourism and other
Putnam is not alone in
his support for the bill. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)
supports the extension of the H-2B visa program as well.
Such a move is
particularly galling in light of the economic trouble currently facing
many Americans. Some have lost their jobs or houses and are desperate
for work. The idea that there are not enough Americans willing to do
these jobs would be risible were this not such a clear attempt to
pander to certain sectors of the business community which want cheap
labor. Putnam did so himself when he noted that discharging the bill
from committee is “the right thing to do” because many small businesses
“rely on the short-term labor the visas provide,” according to ROLL CALL newspaper.
The problem is not that there is a lack of Americans willing to do
these jobs; it is that businesses do not want to pay Americans.
Some Republicans have
urged that the Republican Leadership reconsider its support for the
bill until an effort is made to enforce our borders first. This is a
good suggestion. Hopefully the Leadership will take it to heart. What
we need to do is to enforce the borders first, then re-evaluate our
visa programs. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.