Sanders: Corporations have 'exploited' immigration bill to lower wages

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Sanders said he supports many provisions in the comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

The Senate is expected to begin floor debate on a bipartisan bill from the Gang of Eight next week. S. 744 would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.

Sanders said one part of the bill, which cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote last month, reforms the J-1 visa program. He said the change would allow younger foreigners to work lower wage jobs that young Americans are struggling to find.

“I fear very much that this J-1 program is being exploited by corporations such as Hershey’s and McDonald's,” Sanders said. “What people are saying is that American young people are too lazy to work these jobs. ... I think that is a slap in the face to our young people.”

Sanders added that when underemployment is considered, the real unemployment numbers are closer to 14 percent than 7 percent. He said young Americans need those low-skill jobs to help them pay for college.

Despite having bipartisan support, some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty for illegal residents before strengthening border enforcement.

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