Senator Cruz Files Amendment to prevent Fast Track from Changing U.S. Immigration Law

When Fast-Track is voted upon, Senator Ted Cruz plans to propose an amendment that would prevent Obama from using his Fast-Track power to change federal immigration law. A Texas newspaper reports:

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today filed an amendment to the Trade Act of 2015 to lock in assurances that this legislation cannot be used to change federal immigration law.

“The Obama Administration has repeatedly assured Members of Congress that there is nothing in the Trade Act of 2015 that would allow the President to unilaterally make changes to federal immigration laws,” said Sen. Cruz. “I agree, and we should put it in writing and make it binding law. I am a strong supporter of free trade, but I cannot support legislation that would allow the President to once again circumvent Congress to enact his own immigration laws. Since the Obama Administration has emphatically argued that TPA [i.e. Fast Track] will not affect immigration, it should support this amendment, which makes that promise explicit.”

The amendment states that nothing in the Trade Act of 2015 or in any trade agreement subject to the Act “shall alter or affect any law, regulation, or policy relating to immigration.”

This amendment is critical, given that the Japanese Prime Minister disclosed on April 28 that the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty that he and Obama have been negotiating is "an ambitious attempt to create a new economic sphere in which people, goods and money will flow freely within the Asia-Pacific Region." Since both Mexico and the United States would be included, this implies the free flow of people between Mexico and the United States.

Unfortunately, Cruz has fallen for Obama's semantic trick. Obama is not lying when he says that he will not unilaterally change U.S. immigration law – because that’s not how these trade treaties work!

These treaties don't amend U.S. law. If any existing U.S. law or regulation violates the treaty, foreign businesses can sue the U.S. government for monetary damages through the treaties’ Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions. After a few billion dollars worth of fines, Congress changes the U.S. law.

If Cruz wants to protect the American people, he needs to take away the power of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions in these treaties to assess fines. The dispute settlement provisions of the World Trade Organization prove that fines are not needed – that disputes can be handled without requiring that countries give up their sovereignty.

Howard Richman with his father and son co-authored the 2014 book Balanced Trade: Ending the Unbearable Costs of America’s Trade Deficits, published by Lexington Books and the 2008 book Trading Away Our Future, published by Ideal Taxes Association.

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