By Lou Dobbs
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Editor's note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears every Wednesday on CNN.com.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- This new Congress was supposed to be different. Instead, it is being led by a gaggle of partisan hacks pandering to the same special interests and corporate masters as the previous Republican-led Congress.
So-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation is about to take a privileged position on the Democratic agenda in the Senate. It will likely succeed, just as it did in that august chamber last year, when 38 Democratic senators sided with the president to pass the bill and tried to slam amnesty down the throats of the House of Representatives and their 300 million constituents.
And the now Democratic-controlled House is likely to embrace rather than combat the lunacy of amnesty.
The same characters are already shoveling the same nonsense that overwhelmed reason in the Democratic Party and the Bush administration last year. Front and center in their march to madness: The bill's sponsor, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force Rep. Luis Gutierrez and House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren.
Also meeting with Sen. Kennedy this week is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahoney. The good senator is rounding up all of the usual suspects to lead the charge in advance of his introduction of the amnesty legislation, expected within the next week or two.
Cardinal Mahoney has said point blank that his followers should disregard laws on immigration as a matter of Catholic conscience. This is the same Cardinal who fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep secret all documents related to pedophilia among priests. But the Cardinal and other Catholic leaders are quick to embrace the laws of bankruptcy protection in order to not compensate victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy and keep them out of the U.S. judicial system. So far, five such dioceses have done just that.
The same corporate lobbyists and dominant special interests that drove last year's legislation are even more energetic this year, and they're enthusiastically helping Senator Kennedy write the new legislation. The biggest business lobby in the country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and its associated organization, the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, are actually writing parts of the bill, presumably so that none of our other senators would be unfairly burdened by actually doing their own work. Or perhaps in Senator Kennedy's estimation, they simply don't have the intellectual wherewithal to tackle the required mental heavy-lifting.
Senator Kennedy and his staff claim they're not being secretive about the details of the so-called comprehensive immigration reform, but they're just not willing to tell the public or other senators how the bill is being constructed. Notable Republicans are growing increasingly frustrated by their exclusion from the process, taking some umbrage at the immigrant advocacy groups replacing them in that process.
The Chamber of Commerce itself is feverish with expectation, confident their reform bill will certainly keep wages depressed. The Chamber claims there's a labor shortage in many of these industries: construction, housing services, leisure and hospitality. And that's where the cleverly named Essential Worker Immigration Coalition comes in. Founded, staffed and supported by the Chamber itself, the coalition is made up of the same industries claiming they desperately need more workers.
But there is a non-trivial disconnect here: In each of those industries, a labor shortage leads to higher wages. Unfortunately for the EWIC and the Chamber, and really for American workers, real wages in those industries have been declining, suggesting a very real surplus, not a deficit, of unskilled labor. Yet this President and this Congress continues to push the adoption of a guest-worker program. It's no wonder they have matching approval ratings in the low 30s.
Real wages in the overall construction sector have fallen nearly 2 percent since the start of the decade and nearly 4 percent since the recent wage peak in 2003. Construction workers in 2006 were making the same per-hour salary as they did in 1965 (measured in 1982 dollars). Landscaping workers have also seen real wages fall by nearly 4 percent since 2001. For the leisure and hospitality sector, workers are making the same per-hour salary as they did in 1972.
I've said for years that we cannot reform immigration if we cannot control it, and we cannot control it unless we secure our borders and ports. Once again it is clear that corporate America, special interests and the out-of-touch elites of the Senate have little regard for truth, working Americans, the common good and the national interest.
The Democratic Party is now putting working Americans and their families in the exact same position as the Republicans: last.
This Democratic-led Congress and this Republican President seem intent on pushing middle-class Americans, and truth, into the shadows. We asked for bipartisanship. But I don't think we can stand any more of it.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
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