Barletta to DHS Sec’y Johnson: Who Will Protect American Workers in Amnesty Fight?
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson over the impact on American workers as a result of President Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration. In a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Barletta argued that the president’s granting of amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants will increase competition for jobs that are already scarce. In addition, Barletta highlighted the fact that illegal immigrants granted amnesty will be ineligible for Obamacare, meaning they would be cheaper and more attractive for businesses to hire than legal American workers.
“Some people say that our economic security is national security,” Barletta said to Johnson. “Nearly 20 million Americans woke up this morning either unemployed or underemployed. The president didn’t mention these Americans when he announced his plan to grant de facto amnesty and work permits to up to 5 million illegal immigrants.”
In response to the problem, Barletta has introduced the Defense of Legal Workers Act (H.R. 5761), which clarifies that illegal immigrants granted amnesty by executive action cannot be issued work permits. In the committee hearing, Johnson indicated that the Obama Administration’s plan was to encourage illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows and seek to have their deportation deferred under the amnesty program, which would also grant them work authorization.
“But how does that make it easier for the American worker?” Barletta asked. “We keep talking about the illegal immigrant. Here we go again, talking about the illegal immigrant and how we can make it easier for them. How does this help the American worker who can’t find work and can’t provide for his family? Who’s fighting for them? Why don’t we talk about the American worker and what this will do to them, not what it will do for the illegal immigrant?”
Johnson claimed that introducing millions of newly-legalized workers would not impact Americans who are currently seeking work.
“The question of U.S. jobs, American jobs, is, in my view, a separate issue,” Johnson said.
“So adding 5 million more competitors for these jobs will make it easier?” Barletta asked.
“The estimate is that the potential class is up to 4 million,” Johnson said. “Not all of those will apply. The goal is to encourage these people, who are now working off the books (and we do have undocumented immigrants in this country working off the books), to get on the books, pay taxes into the federal treasury pursuant to a work authorization. The assessment is that that will not impinge upon American jobs with American workers.”
Obamacare, Jobs, and Amnesty
The president’s amnesty program and the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, combine to produce an incentive for businesses to hire illegal immigrants granted amnesty instead of American workers. As outlined in the Employer Mandate provision of the health care law, employers must supply health insurance for workers or pay a fine of $3,000 per employee. Conversely, under the president’s executive amnesty, illegal immigrants will not be eligible for Obamacare, meaning that employers will face no such mandate or fine for hiring them over legal American workers.
Secretary Johnson, however, refused to acknowledge that a $3,000 savings per worker could be an enticement for employers to hire illegal immigrants granted amnesty under the Obama program.
“Mr. Secretary, is it true that the illegal immigrants who are granted amnesty will not need to comply with the Affordable Care Act?” Barletta asked.
“Those who are candidates for and are accepted into the Deferred Action program will not be eligible for comprehensive health care,” Johnson agreed.
“So, therefore an employer may have a decision to make: do I keep the American worker and provide health insurance or pay a $3,000 fine, or do I get rid of the American worker and hire someone who I do not have to provide health insurance and I won’t get fined?” Barletta said. “Is that a possibility?”
“I don’t see it that way,” Johnson said.
“You don’t think any employers will see it that way?” Barletta asked.
“I don’t think I see it that way,” Johnson replied.
In an op-ed piece that ran in the Hazleton Standard Speaker on Thanksgiving Day, Barletta argued that the president’s amnesty program was a breach of the Constitutional separation of powers, and that the result would be damage to American workers and national security.