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This passed 50-48 and has been described to me as “a surprise”:

CORNYN AMENDMENT TO PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS

 ‘This amendment simply protects Americans workers and puts their interests first’

 WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee, made the following statement Wednesday regarding the successful vote on the Cornyn/Kyl amendment to protect American jobs and clarify when foreign workers would be eligible to enter the United States:

 “This amendment simply requires an employer to look for U.S. workers first. If proponents of the compromise bill were serious when they say that certain provisions are needed because immigrants do work Americans won’t do, then they would have supported this amendment.

 “America is a compassionate country and we want to make sure we do this immigration reform plan correctly. But one of the things we don’t want to do is hurt American workers. We simply must protect American workers and adjust future work visas to meet the needs of the economy.”

 As currently written, the immigration bill pending before the Senate would allow unskilled temporary workers – 200,000 a year – to obtain permanent green cards regardless of whether U.S. workers are available to fill the jobs. The Cornyn amendment would fix that flaw in the pending bill.

 The Cornyn amendment would require the Department of Labor to certify that there is not a U.S. worker who is able, willing, qualified and available to fill the job that is offered to the foreign worker. 

 BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF THE PROBLEM:   

•           The amendment protects U.S. workers by requiring the Department of Labor to certify that there is not a U.S. worker who is able, willing, qualified and available to fill the job position that is offered to the foreign worker.

•           S.2611 does not require an employer to first advertise for qualified U.S. workers before a temporary worker can obtain a green card.  This amendment imposes that requirement.

•           Beginning in year four, and every year thereafter, up to 200,000 unskilled workers a year would become eligible for a green card – irrespective of economic conditions or whether there are unemployed U.S. workers available to fill those jobs.  

•           This is a significant departure from current law.  Under current law, most employment-based green card must be sponsored by a U.S. employer.

•           Almost every employment-based green card applicant must also obtain a determination from the Department of Labor that no U.S. worker is “able, willing, qualified…and available” to fill the job position.  [8 USC 1182(a)(5)(A)]  The current bill does not include that requirement for unskilled workers.

•           Even high-skilled workers (e.g. H-1B professionals) must be sponsored by an employer and can only obtain a green card after the Department of Labor has determined that there are no qualified U.S. workers.  This amendment ensures that all foreign workers go through the same process.  

Cornyn is a member of the following key Senate Committees: Armed Services; Judiciary; Budget, Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Joint Economic. Cornyn was previously Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice and Bexar County District Judge.

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