The Obama administration’s Department of Labor, which is supposed to represent the needs of U.S. workers, said Monday that the government needs to find ways to get more skilled foreign workers into the country.
“We also need to fix our broken immigration system to encourage more highly educated foreign-born workers to come to the United States,” Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu said in a blog post. “If we are to compete in a global economy, we must continue to attract and retain the world’s brightest minds.”
“Too many foreign students – many from Asian countries – come to the United States to further their education but must return home when they cannot obtain a green card or immigrant visa. As part of President Obama’s immigration reforms, he has called for “stapling green cards” to the diplomas of foreign graduates students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” Lu wrote.
The statement appears to be a direct contradiction to the Labor Department’s main mission, which is to help American workers.
The department’s own website says its mission is to “foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is among the more vocal critics of the Obama administration’s push to create legal status for millions of illegal immigrants. Earlier this month, he blasted an Obama administration proposal to create more than 100,000 job opportunities for the spouses of certain visa holders, at a time when millions of Americans are still out of work.
“Fifty million working-age Americans aren’t working,” Sessions said at the time. “Who does the administration represent?”
On Monday, Sessions’ Communications Director Stephen Miller said now the question is, “whose Department of Labor is this?”
“Nearly one in two recent college graduates are underemployed, and yet the administration wants to double the supply of low-wage guest workers to fill jobs in their place,” Miller said. “Millions of young American men and women are racking up student debt trying to earn a degree and make a living. What does the administration do? It teams up with the corporate immigration lobby to try and put that reliable living out of reach.”
Sessions hosted a call with scholars last week who said the Obama administration is putting forward the false idea that the U.S. doesn’t have enough skilled workers, and that more are needed from overseas. One economist said there is little evidence to support that given that wages for these high skilled jobs aren’t rising.