Executive Change to Immigration Policy Tied to Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

While most Americans opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — and also the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — are concerned mostly about the impact such “trade” agreements would have on American jobs and U.S. sovereignty, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and others are also concerned that a TPP would make radical changes to U.S. immigration policy without answering to Congress.
Sessions circulated a “Critical Alert” memo last spring in which he listed his “Five Top Concerns With Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).” Sessions noted that TPP “applies not only to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but all international trade agreements during the life of the TPA.” (Emphasis in original.) His concerns included: 1. Consolidation of Power in the Executive Branch, 2. Increased Trade Deficits, 3. Ceding Sovereign Authority to International Powers, 4. Currency Manipulation, and 5. Immigration Increases. Under the fifth point, Sessions noted, in part:

There are numerous ways TPA could facilitate immigration increase above current law — and precious few ways anyone in Congress could stop its happening….

Stating that “TPP contains no change to immigration law: is a semantic rather than a factual argument. Language already present in both TPA and TPP provide the basis for admitting more foreign workers, and for longer periods of time, and language could later be added to TPP or an future trade deal to further increase such admissions….

The President has circumvented Congress on immigration with serial regularity. But the TPA would yield new power to the executive to alter admissions while subtracting congressional checks against those actions.

Sessions was not the only one to charge that the TPP would give the Obama administration the power to change immigration law at will. In a guest editorial published by The Hill last April, Curtis Ellis, executive director of the non-profit American Jobs Alliance, stated: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes an entire chapter on immigration. It is a Trojan horse for Obama’s immigration agenda.”

However, the White House repeatedly denied that the trade deal contained any immigration language and this denial was also echoed by some leading Republicans in Congress.

On April 30, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Newsmax that the inclusion of provisions on immigration in the TPP  is “absolutely not true” and dismissed the charges of those who claimed otherwise as “the latest urban legend.”

Written by Warren Mass
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