Washington, DC —U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., is leading a bipartisan group of Senators in an effort to stop a vast increase in immigration visa permits.
“Immigration is an issue that demands the attention of the Congress, and, regretfully, we have been told that tougher enforcement actions will have to wait until next year. And so, imagine the surprise of Senators to find provisions buried deep, deep in this budget bill that would authorize the U.S. Government to issue more than 350,000 additional immigrant visas each year to foreign laborers seeking to live and work permanently in the United States,” Byrd said during debate on Wednesday.
The government grants permanent residency to approximately 1 million immigrants each year. Byrd is working to block provisions that would raise that number by one third—a massive destabilizing increase.
“It is baffling. If we don’t have the time to address the illegal immigration that threatens our national security, then how do we explain to the American people that we somehow found the time to raise the level of imported labor each year?” Byrd asked.
Byrd offered an amendment that would strike the escalation in visa permits. Many have expressed concern that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration and border security issues, is not in a position to handle the increased H-1B visas that Senator Byrd is trying to stop. In fact, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the Department of Homeland Security cannot estimate how many people are already in the United States on H-1B visas because of inadequate tracking systems. The Byrd amendment has garnered the support of many labor unions, which are concerned that such a flood of new visas would mean fewer jobs for American workers.
A vote on the Byrd amendment is expected Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005.