WASHINGTON, June 21 – Senate leaders today agreed to include a provision in an immigration reform bill that would put young Americans to work through summer and year-round job programs.
The provision by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would provide $1.5 billion over two years for states and local communities to help find jobs for more than 400,000 16- to 24-year-olds who were hard hit by the Wall Street-caused recession. “With the youth unemployment rate unacceptably high, the youth jobs amendment will put hundreds of thousands of young Americans to work,” Sanders said.
Sanders had argued that helping unemployed American young people was the least Congress should do in a bill that allows college students from around the world to take jobs that young Americans would otherwise perform. Sanders focused on the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program and the H-2B guest worker programs.
Sanders said, “At a time when real unemployment is close to 14 percent and even higher among young people and minorities, it is absolutely imperative that we create millions of decent-paying jobs in our country. The establishment of a youth employment program for 400,000 young people is a good step forward but in the months to come we must do even more.”
While Sanders has said he wants to strengthen border security, he remains concerned about a massive increase in spending on private contractors that will take place under a provision Republicans insisted on in the compromise.
Sanders commended Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for his leadership on this issue as well as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the immigration subcommittee.
To read a summary of Sanders’ jobs provision, click here.
To read the provision, click here.