By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
He pointed to the example of a restaurant, where poor English might push low-skilled foreign workers toward jobs washing dishes or cleaning up, while native-born workers would specialize in jobs that require communications, such as waiting on tables.
Mr. Nowrasteh hadn’t seen the latest Center for Immigration Studies report but questioned the numbers in a previous version, saying he had been unable to duplicate them in his own research.
Mr. Camarota defended his numbers, saying they came straight from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and that he used the same definitions of native-born and foreign-born that the CPS uses.
While the debate rages outside Congress, it was muted in the Senate where the chamber cleared its bill on a 68-32 vote last week.
In 2006 and 2007, the previous two times the Senate debated a broad immigration bill, the competition between native-born and immigrants was a major focus — and helped sink the 2007 effort when Democrats pushed an amendment cutting the guest-worker program in half.
Mr. Nowrasteh said this time around, that debate was transferred to closed-door negotiations — chiefly a deal between the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on how to construct the future immigration and guest-worker parts of the bill.
With those two advocacy groups’ blessing, there was little dissent on the issue.
Just one amendment on the Senate floor dealt with potential competition for jobs, and that was a minor measure to require states to certify that their employers are actively trying to recruit American workers before businesses can try to recruit seasonal workers, who are often used at summer beach resorts or winter ski slopes. That amendment passed by voice vote.
“I think this time around, the pro-immigration reform forces are much better organized and on the offensive, whereas in 2007 the anti-reform people were better organized and on the offensive,” Mr. Nowrasteh said.
Mr. Camarota blamed the lack of a floor debate on the political pressure on both parties to get a deal done.
“The Democrats don’t want the issue to come up because they’re very anxious to make sure they get a legalization and there,” he said.
As for the GOP, he said that’s a matter of listening to businesses rather than looking at the data.
“Every piece of data that the government collects on wages and employment does not support the idea that we have a labor shortage. The only piece of evidence that there is a shortage of workers is testimonials of owners of businesses that want access to more foreign labor, and that’s what Republicans listen to,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who fought against the Senate bill, said he hopes that when the GOP-controlled House takes up the issue it will have more to say about immigrants competing for jobs.
“This study underscores that the economic problem facing America right now is not too few workers but too many unemployed workers,” Mr. Sessions said.