Lobbyists for resorts, au pair agencies, and the seafood industry successfully slipped special-interest perks into the Senate immigration bill, reports USA Today. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) successfully fought to include in the bill a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded set aside for youth jobs programs.
The revelations are just the latest in what is shaping up to be a pork-laden immigration bill, says Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
“You’re left with a bill that’s chockfull of de facto earmarks, pork-barrel spending and special interest sweeteners, a bill that increase the on-budget deficit, but fails to guarantee a border that’s secure and offers only promises, which historically Congress has been very, very, very, very bad about keeping,” said Cornyn on Wednesday.
USA Today says the resort and au pair agency language will be a boon to these businesses:
The changes to the bill follow aggressive lobbying by resorts, au pair agencies and other industries that rely on the J-1 cultural-exchange visa program, which allows foreigners to enter the USA through 14 categories, ranging from interns to visiting scholars. The largest number, nearly 92,000 last year, entered as part of the summer-work travel category, federal records show. An additional 18,000 worked as camp counselors and nearly 14,000 as au pairs.
Businesses that hire these visa holders save money because they don’t have to pay unemployment taxes, Medicare or Social Security. Participants must also have their own health insurance, another cost savings.
Cornyn also blasted what he calls the “Alaska seafood special”—language slipped into the bill by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) that will allow seafood processors to hire young foreign workers through a summer work travel program.
Cornyn is not alone in decrying the immigration bill’s taxpayer-funded crony giveaways to favored industries. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the bill is so riddled with corporate concessions that it “reads like a Christmas wish list for Haliburton.”