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Small Business Lobbyists Raise Concerns as Immigration Bill Nears Approval in Senate

The nation’s largest small-business lobbying group has suddenly inserted itself into the immigration reform debate, raising several concerns about legislation that is nearing approval in the Senate.

Quiet on the issue to this point, the National Federation of Independent Business has sent a letter to Senate leaders, urging them to address several “red flags” for small business owners in the chamber’s nearly finalized immigration package. The group took particular issue with the creation of a new Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, which would measure worker shortages and adjust caps on employment-based visas.

Susan Eckerly, the organization’s senior vice president of public policy, noted that the department would be self-funded using fees collected from businesses that hire low-skilled foreign workers — fees that could increase without approval from lawmakers.

“This self-funding mechanism shields the new Bureau from Congressional oversight,” Eckerly wrote in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “This structure creates a strong incentive to increase the fees and impose additional and new fees on employers.”

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