Thursday, July 13, 2006

Senate Immigration Bill Requires Higher Pay For Foreigners Than Americans On Some Construction Projects

Senate Bill 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, contains provisions requiring that foreign construction laborers here under the guest-worker program be paid well above the minimum wage, even as American workers at the same work site could earn less. Click here for full story from the Washington Times published on July 12th. Also check my previous post, "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act Will Increase Mass Immigration", dated July 3rd, for further discussion of this bill.

The bill "would guarantee wages to some foreign workers that could be higher than those paid to American workers at the same work site," says a policy paper released this week by the Senate's Republican Policy Committee. "This is unfair to U.S. workers, inappropriate, and unnecessary." The 11-page, harshly critical analysis of the Senate immigration bill on this one point reveals how torn Senate Republicans are over the larger issue of immigration.

Although the bill was supported by Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, it was opposed by the rest of the Senate Republican leadership and a majority of Republicans in the chamber. And despite the support of Mr. Frist and Mr. McConnell, this week's policy paper critical of the wage guarantees for foreign workers marks the official stance of the Republican Policy Committee, which formulates and implements the policies of the caucus.

Across the Capitol, House Republicans are no more charitable about the Senate's immigration bill. They announced yesterday seven new House hearings for later this month into how bad they think the Senate bill is. One such hearing is entitled: "Do the Reid-Kennedy bill's amnesty provisions repeat the mistakes of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986?"

The Davis Bacon Act of 1931 (DBA) requires that the local prevailing wage be paid to all workers employed in federally contracted construction or projects done for the District of Columbia. Those wages -- up to four or five times higher in some fields than the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour -- are set by the Department of Labor.

The Senate's immigration bill would require that the higher wages be paid to foreign temporary workers in all construction occupations, even if the project isn't federally funded and doesn't otherwise fall under DBA. "In other words, foreign workers employed in a construction job for which a DBA wage rate has been determined could be guaranteed wages higher than those paid to American workers doing the same job on the same private construction project for the same employer," the policy paper reports.

Here's a typical example. The DBA wage rate for an air conditioning mechanic in Alexandria or Montgomery County, for instance, is $30.27 an hour. That mechanic also is guaranteed paid holidays for New Year's Day, Martin Luther King's birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Analysis: SB 2611 should be dead on arrival at the U.S. House. The House needs to do whatever it takes to gut this bill and remove not only this abominable provision but the guest worker provisions as well. Employers who claim they cannot do without these workers now did without them before.

The mainstream Republican Party had better wake up to the huge backlash against immigration developing in this country. When President Bush states that he thinks every American job should be up for grabs, that's like waving a red flag in the face of a bull. The last historical example I can recall of a leader so insensitive to or ignorant of public opinion was Marie Antoinette, with her infamous "let them eat cake" outburst. This backlash could even split the Republican Party, and cause populist Republicans to reach out to socially conservative Democrats to form another third party. Only this time, it may produce a more credible standardbearer than Ross Perot.

In a related previous post, I referenced an article showing that President Bush wants all U.S. jobs open to global competition and that his "answer" to illegal immigration is to allow any American employer to hire any willing foreign worker. This is international labor arbitrage at its worst and a form of reverse colonization. However, for SB 2611 to go beyond this and to mandate higher wages for foreigners than Americans, even in some select cases, is outright economic treason against the American people.

Those of us in Alaska need to keep the pressure on Don Young. Let him know we will not accept amnesty, that we demand immigration reduction and attrition of illegals. Click here for contact information. For the rest of you, click here for the website to find your representatives.

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