The immigration debate in the country is one of the more complex issues we face as a nation today. It’s about border security in a post-9/11 world, law and order, race, human rights and the economy. In an odd and rare juxtapositon, Senator Kennedy sponsored the Senate bill that was backed by the pro-business White House but not by socially conservative Republicans. It seems like everyone has their own angle. Kennedy wants to “take care” of immigrant communities and end the vigilante actions of citizen border patrols. The Bushies want a steady stream of cheap labor.
According to BusinessWeek:
Top U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyist R. Bruce Josten said this week that the immigration issue is “divisive in the Republican base, it’s divisive in the Democratic base, it’s divisive in the business community. It splits organized labor, it splits the immigration community.”
Republican senators who backed the immigration bill felt particularly exposed to fierce attacks from conservative activists in their home states, including talk show hosts and local GOP officials.
It was this groundswell of public reaction that stymied the legislative process and left Reid, Kennedy and Bush holding their jocks this week. With all this confusion, let’s turn to Vermont’s Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, for his view of the issue.
What most concerns me about this legislation are the provisions that would bring low-wage workers into this country in order to depress the wages of American workers, which are already in decline. With poverty increasing and the middle-class shrinking, we must not force American workers into even more economic distress.
The CEOs who want this bill arenâ€™t even embarrassed by their hypocrisy. One day they shut down plants with high-skilled, well-paid American workers, and move to China where they pay desperate people 50 cents an hour. The next day, they have the nerve to come before the U.S Congress and tell us that they canâ€™t find skilled workers to do the jobs that they need. Give me a break.
Sanders said on C-SPAN that the same business forces that supported NAFTA are supporting the Bush/Kennedy agenda on immigration. That’s a bad sign.