Friday, February 5, 2010

Isakson, Chambliss: Improving Immigration Laws Will Help Unemployment

Yesterday U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., joined six of their Senate Republican colleagues in signing a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asking him to take steps to improve immigration laws in order to help reduce U.S. unemployment.

Isakson and Chambliss believe the millions of workers who are in the United States illegally are only exacerbating the unfair competition American workers currently face as they struggle to find jobs.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Majority Leader Reid,

We understand that you are currently drafting major jobs legislation to help ease unemployment in the United States during these difficult times. We certainly share your goal of getting Americans back to work and wish to share our ideas with you in the hope that they too may be included in this jobs package.

The statistics are sobering. Currently 15.3 million Americans are officially unemployed. If one adds the number of Americans who are underemployed, what the Department of Labor calls the U-6 unemployment rate, that number jumps to 26.5 million. Meanwhile, there are between 7 and 8 million illegal aliens in the U.S. labor market, many of whom have only recently entered the country.

Despite these numbers, the U.S. government in 2009 failed to enforce our immigration laws. Between fiscal years 2008 and 2009, administrative arrests of illegal aliens dropped 68 percent; criminal arrests of illegal aliens dropped 60 percent; indictments of illegal aliens dropped 58 percent; and convictions of illegal aliens dropped 63 percent.

By taking certain steps to improve our immigration laws, we believe that Congress can help the American worker at little to no cost to the American taxpayer. These steps include:

§ Setting clear enforcement policies that reverse dramatic declines in actions;
§ Permanently reauthorizing E-Verify;
§ Allowing employers to use E-Verify to verify the work authorization of current employees;
§ Reinstating the No-Match Rule, which directs employers to take specific actions upon learning that their employees’ names and social security numbers do not match;
§ Increasing penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens; and
§ Prohibiting employers from deducting wages paid to illegal alien workers.

While there may be many other good ideas to help reduce unemployment, these commonsense measures would go a long way to putting U.S. workers first and end the unfair competition that arises from the abuse of our immigration system. It is imperative that these provisions be included in any jobs legislation and we are fully committed to working with you towards that end.
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