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Rep Hanna straddling immigration reform

On May 10, 2013, Rep Richard Hanna appeared at a Joint Economic Committee meeting on immigration. He stated, in an apparent follow up to the Politico article that he published supporting immigration reform to enable foreigners gaining visas for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs, that there is a concern that immigration reform will cause competition for US citizens in the workplace.

There seems to be a disconnect.

On April 24th, Rep. Richard Hanna did not attend the Joint Economic Committee meeting on resolutions to the long-term unemployment rate. Instead he wrote an article suggesting that immigration reform be used to fill the void of STEM workers to stimulate small business growth.

“But because creating a sufficiently deep and broad pipeline of domestic STEM teachers, students and workers will take many years, we also need to consider reforming our immigration laws now to allow more foreign STEM workers to fill immediate job openings. Far from taking net jobs from U.S. citizens, allowing foreign workers to join or create businesses right here will inevitably lead to innovation and invention that in turn creates more American jobs, American paychecks and American taxpayers.”

Yet on May 10th, the Washington Post quotes Rep. Hanna as concerned over the competition that immigration reform can pose to the American worker

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) asked about the widespread belief among economists that immigrants don’t really take jobs from Americans. “Much immigrant labor is highly skilled and thus presumably not differentiated,” he said. “Why would wage competition not incur in the labor market?”

Beyond the fact that the sentences are poorly worded, the Washington Post is reporting Rep. Hanna as being against the very argument that he posed 16 days earlier. So the question is, will immigration reform cause greater competition for jobs to American citizens? Rep. Hanna apparently believes that it won’t and that it will.

The New York 22nd Congressional District contains Counties that have unemployment rates which at the lowest is 9% unemployment and increasing to 11% in the most hard hit County. Small businesses, and constituents seeking employment, are sure to want to have a clear understanding on what their Representative is telling them about immigration reform. Will it grow their businesses, or will it cause even further unemployment in a State that is already ranked the worst in business friendliness.

Eloquence in speaking aside, Representatives in Congress have a duty to present the issues that affect constituents, and make the case for the best choice of action. That is the obligation whether the Representative is the most Conservative or Liberal in their own beliefs, with the responsibility to then vote the choice of the people – even if it opposes their own belief. Even a Representative that is one of the most moderate in Congress, is not allowed to argue both sides of the issue and present confusion to constituents.

Either the NY-22 is in favor of giving foreigners visas to fill STEM jobs, or they are against immigration reform that would add to the burden for those unemployed and looking for work opportunities. Only one is the choice of the people of the NY-22. The Representative in Congress should be very clear what that choice is, and stand by the will of the people.

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