Seth Harris, Acting U.S. Labor Secretary
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris touts Obama’s bipartisan immigration reform plan as having something for everyone – increased border security for Republicans who want to prevent more immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally, a boost to the economy – Harris says the bill will add $200 billion annually – and a path to citizenship for undocumented workers that he says is fair, but “no cake walk.”
Harris says adequate protections for the southern border are already in place, with “more boots on the ground” on than ever. “As a result of that, we’ve collected more drugs, more money and more weapons” than ever before, says Harris. “We’ve reduced the number of those crossing the border illegally.”
The labor secretary says the immigration reform bill currently before the legislature would add an additional $8 billion dollars to border patrol efforts, including $3 billion for new technology and $1.5 billion for new fencing along the southern border.
Harris says the bipartisan plan will mean tax revenue from the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, which would bolster social security and Medicaire. Not only that, it will level the playing field between businesses who follow the rules and those who hire undocumented works.
“It will help our economy if these folks are brought within the system,” says Harris. “And if employers who are employing undocumented workers are forced to play by the rules, the rules their competitors are already following.”
Pathway To Citizenship
The acting labor secretary says that both business and labor communities are in favor of a tough, earned path to citizenship. It won’t be a cakewalk for undocumented workers, says Harris – they’ll have to pay back taxes, pass background checks, learn English and “go to the back of the line.” It’s not a short process under the play currently facing consideration, an undocumented worker’s path to legal citizen status will take 13 years.