Six GOP Senators Offer to Trade Amnesties for Border Wall plus Cheap Labor
Six GOP Senators briefed Jared Kushner and President Donald Trump’s top congressional aide about a plan to swap two amnesties in exchange for border-wall funding.
The briefing shows the GOP leaders’ “contempt for Trump’s immigration-reform campaign promise,” said Rosemary Jenks, policy director at NumbersUSA. “There is no talk in this about asylum reform, TVPRA, detention spaces or sanctuary cities, or any of the enforcement needs — it is about amnesty and cheap labor, and that is exactly what Candidate Tump campaigned against.”
The proposed amnesties-for-wall swap appeared Wednesday as Trump pressured Democrats to reciprocate his compromises on the day after his successful prime-time address to the nation. On Thursday, Trump will visit the border to call for wall funding.
The Senators’ draft offer to the Democrats, however, also includes incentives sought by GOP-aligned business groups, such as an expansion of the H-2B blue collar visa-worker program.
Few Democrats support the H-2B visa program but its inclusion could encourage GOP legislators to ignore protests from the GOP’s pro-American base. Several GOP Senators in the group also support a DACA amnesty because it would add more imported workers and consumers to their local markets.
GOP senators privately gathered in Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office Wednesday to discuss a way out of the logjam. The long-shot idea: propose an immigration deal that would include $5.7 billion for Trump’s border wall along with several provisions that could entice Democrats.
Those items include changes to help those who are a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as well as immigrants from El Salvador and other countries impacted by the Temporary Protected Status program – along with modifications to H-2B visas.
The DACA work-permit program for roughly 800,000 younger illegals was created by former President Barack Obama in 2012 but is likely to be declared unlawful this year by the Supreme Court. Trump is rolling back the TPS program, which grants temporary sanctuary and work permits to more than 300,000 visitors from countries hit by disasters. The TPS grants were repeatedly extended by former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, even after the countries recovered from their disasters.
GOP senators pitched the idea to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who said if they came up with a proposal that got Trump his border wall money and could pass the Senate, the White House would be open to more discussions on the matter, the source said. He did not say Trump would endorse such a plan.
However, other media outlets did not corroborate CNN’s claim that Kushner said Trump would endorse amnesties and cheap-labor wage-cuts in exchange for a wall.
Graham said that under a potential deal “the president gets his security funding and can add some things to the mix that would draw some bipartisan support.”
Graham summarized the framework as “the wall plus something else” that he hopes would garner some Democratic support.
The six GOP Senators included Graham, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Ohio’s Rob Portman, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Maine’s Susan Collins.
Kushner was accompanied by Shahira Knight, the former banker who now runs Trump’s outreach to the Hill. In August, Knight declined to oppose a series of unpopular pro-migration and cheap-labor amendments added to to the draft 2019 homeland security budget by Rep. Kevin Yoder. Those giveaway measures were paired with a $5 billion budget for the wall but were blocked when Yoder lost his seat in November.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 10, 2019
Media outlets reported the GOP group consists of “moderates.” But the group of GOP Senators included the main backers of a double-amnesty bill that won nearly unanimous Democratic support for a series of votes in February.
If that double-amnesty bill — largely drafted by Collins and Graham — had passed, it would have minimized the marketplace pressures which are now raising Americans’ wages at more than 3 percent a year, and would also have raised profits for investors and CEOs.
Watch Sen. Collins defend her double-amnesty (DACA and a 'prioritization-amnesty') at a press conference with one reporter & a chorus of compliant progressives. Spoiler: She wants a national amnesty b/c Maine employers think wages are too damn high. https://t.co/uxVVjjWuRl
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) February 19, 2018
The group was hosted by Graham, who launched the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty and cheap-labor bill that was eventually blocked by GOP voters.
Kushner’s meeting with the pro-amnesty Senators was described in tweets from multiple reports.
In Graham’s office, GOP senators discussed an immigration deal – $5.7B for the wall – plus provisions to entice Dems: DACA, TPS, H2B. Kushner told them if it has wall money and can pass Senate, WH would be open to further talks. Rs now plan to pitch Ds https://t.co/grbISgPn9U
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 10, 2019
Graham labeled the draft plan as “wall plus something else.”
Graham launches last-ditch push to end shutdown. “The wall plus something else,” he says. Senate Rs trying to get out of shutdown meeting with McConnell tomorrow
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) January 10, 2019
In February debates over Trump’s immigration reforms, Graham worked with Collins to push a DACA-amnesty bill which included a hidden paragraph directing enforcement agencies to largely ignore the 8 million-plus illegal migrants who hold jobs in the United States. That double-amnesty bill was narrowly blocked amid strenuous, last-minute opposition from the White House.
In the days before that vote, Graham also told reporters that employers in his district want to bring in more blue-collar workers. He told reporters on January 21:
We need more legal immigration. … I don’t want green cards just for computer engineers. If you are out there working in the fields, if you are a construction worker, I want some of those people to have a way to stay here, because if you are running a business and you have a guest worker who is really good, and would add value to our country, I want them to have a chance to get a green card. I just don’t want to be a country in the future of just computer engineers or high-tech people.
Six senators met in Graham office on the shutdown, plus Kushner:
After a bit over an hour 3 of them went to Senate Appropriations Chairman Shelby’s office
Whatever they are cooking up seems like a long shot but they’re trying
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) January 9, 2019
Tillis is the GOP’s most ardent advocate for expanding the H-2B visa program which suppresses the wages of Americans employed in seasonal companies. He faces the voters in November 2020.
Phrases of the day:
"Bible study" & "Wall plus" – Lindsey Graham
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) January 10, 2019
Murkowski also backs a DACA amnesty for at least 3 million people brought to the United States as children or youths. In December 2017, she declared that American is not a land for Americans and their children, but is “a land of immigrants — it is who we are, and from our farms to our hospitals to our laboratories, immigrants are helping to move our country forward.”
Alexander backed Graham’s 2013 amnesty. On January 9, he reiterated his February support for Collins’ double-amnesty bill:
2.Go bigger: Pass the bill that 54 sens—including 46 Ds—voted for last Feb that combined a solution for children brought to the U.S. illegally (DACA) & $25B in appropriated funding for border security over 10yrs. The bill failed only because of last-minute White House opposition.
— Sen. Lamar Alexander (@SenAlexander) January 9, 2019
Some Democratic activists urged Democratic leaders to grab the proposal:
I’d make this deal if it included full path to citizenship. Just the eminent domain fight will take years, and we cancel the stupid project when we win it all in 2020 https://t.co/gnoApiOFop
— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) January 10, 2019
Nationwide, the U.S. establishment’s economic policy of using legal migration to boost economic growth shifts wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the market with cheap white-collar and blue-collar foreign labor. That flood of outside labor spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor of blue-collar and white-collar employees.
The cheap labor policy widens wealth gaps, reduces high tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high tech careers, and sidelines at least five million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.
Immigration also steers investment and wealth away from towns in Heartland states because coastal investors can more easily hire and supervise the large immigrant populations who prefer to live in coastal cities. In turn, that investment flow drives up coastal real estate prices, pricing poor U.S. Latinos and blacks out of prosperous cities, such as Berkeley and Oakland.