Politics

Bernie Sanders On Immigration In 2007 Video: This Is A Bad Bill For American Workers

“Sanctions against employers who employ illegal immigrants is virtually nonexistent,” and the guest-worker program would drive down wages for all, Sanders explained in a video posted to his Senate website.

Bernie Sanders once railed against the effects of the 2007 immigration bill and its guest-worker program on American workers and wages, and seemed to lament the lack of sanctions on employers for hiring undocumented immigrants in a video posted to what was then his Senate website.

“Unfortunately, the guest-worker provisions in this bill, which will bring many hundreds of thousands of lower-wage workers into this country will only make a bad situation even worse,” Sanders says in the video.

“I believe we have very serious immigration problems in this country,” he said, later in the video. “I think as you’ve heard today, sanctions against employers who employ illegal immigrants is virtually nonexistent. Our border is very porous.”

While he says he supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, he says the 2007 bill would do more harm than good. Sanders was speaking on June 20, 2007, before the bill failed. Eight days later, he posted similar remarks in a statement after the bill had failed.

As Hillary Clinton has attacked Sanders for his vote against the 2007 immigration bill in the Senate, he’s argued the bill’s guest-worker program was terrible for the guest workers.

“Included in that legislation was a guest-worker provision, which organizations saw as almost akin to slavery,” he said on Thursday night at a CNN town hall.

But in 2007, as has been pointed out over the last several months, Sanders talked about the guest-worker program in terms of its effect on the American worker, including in a video posted to his own website.

3. Sanders posted the video on his Senate site, which is accessible through the web archive:

4. Here’s the full transcript of the video from Sanders’s Senate website (the cuts are in the video that Sanders posted):


We need legislation, which will improve wages and income in America, lower the poverty rate, and expand the middle class. That’s legislation we need. Unfortunately, the guest-worker provisions in this bill, which will bring many hundreds of thousands of lower-wage workers into this country will only make a bad situation even worse, will drive down wages even further — not only for low-wage American workers, but for highly skilled professionals, as well. […]

I believe we have very serious immigration problems in this country. I think as you’ve heard today, sanctions against employers who employ illegal immigrants is virtually nonexistent. Our border is very porous. And I think we need a path to citizenship, which I think this bill addresses, in a significant way. My main concern about this bill is what it will do in terms of driving wages down, not only for low-wage workers, but for professional, skilled workers, as well. And I think at a time when the middle class is shrinking, the last thing we need is to bring over, a period of years, millions of people into this country who are prepared to lower wages for American workers. I think it’s a bad idea. […]

What we’re trying to do here is make the case that for American workers this is a bad piece of legislation. We hope that Democrats and Republicans will vote against it, and make it a better bill. [..]

I think this legislation, as you’ve probably heard, will do more harm than good. Obviously, we need major comprehensive immigration reform. I think we’re all in agreement on that. But we don’t need a bill that contains provisions that will continue the shrink — accelerate the shrinking of the middle class, and increase poverty in America today.

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