Excerpt from Lou Dobbs re: Stealth "War on the Middle Class" with comments by Lori Wallach.

This is to give some important historic context to the important WTO Dispute DS503 story.

This pertains to the history of DS503
This is a transcript from from CNN.


Just ahead, President Bush defending his strategy in Iraq while the Republican Party launches an aggressive attack on Democrats. We'll have the latest for you on an escalating political battle and national debate.

And then, "War on the Middle Class," why some in Congress say the World Trade Organization is meddling in our immigration policy and could take sovereignty from this nation. We'll have a special report. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The latest now on the "War on the Middle Class." Outrage in Congress over the idea that U.S. immigration policy could be decided in the backrooms of the Hong Kong talks of the World Trade Organization. Developing nations and big U.S. multinationals want more work visas for poor country so more foreign workers can take middle class American jobs. And lawmakers have begun to realize their immigration authority could be handed over to a world body.

Christine Romans has the report.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A stern warning to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman: Don't use American jobs as a bargaining chip in WTO negotiations. A bipartisan group of senators led by Dianne Feinstein, in a letter to Portman write: "We should not give any false hopes that American immigration policy is up for discussion. Inclusion of immigration matters in free trade agreements degrades Congress' ability to exercise its plenary power."

The senators, all supporters of free trade, warn their support for American negotiated trade agreements ends if immigration is handed over to the WTO. The U.S. trade representative has not commented publicly on the Feinstein letter, but a trade office spokesman referred us to another letter from Congressman Clay Shaw and three others. In it, the congressman writes: "Calls are being made for reduced expectations, and for taking issues off the table, we urge you to resist such calls."

But Shaw says his letter by no means suggests Portman should bargain with visas for a trade deal.

REP. CLAY SHAW (R), FLORIDA: So this brings up a whole new can of worms when this gets back to the Congress of the United States because the immigration policy is controlled strictly by the Congress.

ROMANS: But the administration is being lobbied hard by big business and developing countries who want more visas and they want them binding under WTO's rules.

LORI WALLACH, PUBLIC CITIZEN GLOBAL TRADE WATCH: What we're talking about here is a sneaky Trojan horse maneuver. You have got the World Trade Organization and people are thinking it's about trade. But actually what is at stake here is an attempt to get written into the WTO guaranteed access for hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, basically usurping U.S. immigration law. ROMANS: Authority over visa limits belongs to the U.S. Congress and its judiciary committees. And House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner has repeatedly warned that immigration not be an element in trade agreements.


ROMANS: And now some members of Congress are starting to realize that in past free trade agreements they have unwittingly made concessions on immigration. Already under WTO rules we are required to offer 65,000 H-1B visas each year, if for any reason we don't, it goes to international arbitration and penalties can be levied against the United States.

DOBBS: Two things, one, degrade the U.S. Congress's power over immigration policy? It eliminates it. Secondly, Congress has already abdicated its constitutional responsibility by turning over fast track authority in the White House. They did that in 1976 and haven't had the guts to reassert their congressional responsibilities and take oversight of what has been a disastrous trade policy over the course of the past 25 years.

It appears Congress is actually standing up for a change for middle class workers in this country.

ROMANS: We'll see if they can stand up strongly enough to make sure they don't get some of these concessions at WTO next week.

DOBBS: You know, it will be very interesting to see and we're going to be watching more closely than anyone else. We can guarantee you that.

Thanks, Christine.

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