By Jennifer Bendery
December 10, 2009
Groups seeking a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants are accusing Republican critics of hypocrisy for voting against bills aimed at helping American workers. The new line of attack aims to undermine GOP claims that legalizing illegal immigrants will take jobs away from unemployed Americans.
The America's Voice Education Fund said Thursday in a new report that lawmakers opposed to immigration reform on the grounds that it would hurt American workers also voted against wage hikes and equal pay measures.
Of the 87 House Members who received an "A" from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a prominent group opposed to liberalizing immigration laws, 71 percent voted against increasing the minimum wage and 93 percent voted against wage discrimination legislation. Eighty-two percent voted against providing parental leave for federal employees and 87 percent voted against extending unemployment benefits.
Among the groups who were represented at a Thursday press event backing the report - and action on comprehensive immigration reform - were the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Republicans targeted in the report dismissed the attacks and stood by their opposition to bills that they say amounted to government interference in business practices.
"The definition of what helps American workers is different for some people than others, so I don't buy into that definition. ... I don't see raising the minimum wage as helping American workers," Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said.
"These people are leaning toward socialism or they've gone over to the other side, so they can't understand the principles of free enterprise," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said. "I'd like to take them to Econ 101 ... and drive that into their heads."
The report also noted a dramatic decrease in the number of Members ranked favorably by FAIR between the 109th and 110th Congress. FAIR scored 151 House lawmakers with an "A" grade in the 109th Congress, when Republicans were in power, but only 87 in the 110th Congress, when Democrats took control.