Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Thursday dismantled a maxim that has become an article of faith among mass-immigration advocates: that foreign-born residents work the jobs Americans won’t do.
That oft-repeated claim was one of the primary reasons Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offered Wednesday when he came out against Cotton’s bill to cut legal immigration. Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” Cotton called that “emotional and opinionated, and yet uninformed.”
To dispute the claim, Cotton turned to a simple fact — Americans already are working the jobs Americans supposedly will not do.
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“I’m not aware of any job that an American won’t do,” he said, pointing to data from the Labor Department. “The facts are native-born Americans make up the majority in every single industry in this country.”
Not only the claim factually wrong, it is a slight to hard-working Americans, Cotton said.
“It’s somewhat condescending and insulting to American workers. You know, maybe they don’t have a private equity fund and sit on the ‘Morning Joe’ panel,” he said. “But most of them just want a decent job that pays a decent wage and has a chance to support their families.”
Cotton’s Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, co-sponsored with Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), would restrict the ability of immigrants to sponsor extended family members for U.S. residency and place a premium on newcomers with skills, education, and English language ability.
Passing the bill will be difficult, because adopting a merit-based immigrant system is anathema to many lawmakers who believe America should be a beacon for distressed people around the globe searching for a better life — including those who sneak into the country without authorization.
But Cotton said those policies are simply not popular — particularly in the Republican Party. For proof, Cotton pointed out that Graham and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — Gang of Eight members who sponsored an amnesty measure in 2013 — both ran for the GOP nomination last year against the candidate who won.
“Between the two of them, they didn’t win a single statewide primary,” he said. “Yet Donald Trump didn’t just win the nomination; he won the presidency. You would think that the people in our party who have advocated for mass immigration and for amnesty first would take stock of what happened in our elections last year and realize that they are selling something that not many of our voters want.”
Cotton said reducing the number of unskilled, low-education immigrants would improve the economic prospects of Americans who fit that same profile.
“I would say that it’s not a coincidence that for 40 years, if you have a high school degree or less, your wages have fallen, and at that same time we have quadrupled the number of unskilled and low-skilled immigrants we bring into our country,” he said.
The irony that immigration advocates should consider, Cotton said, is that the most recent immigrants to America have the most to gain from his proposal.
“Who do they think the new wave of immigrants [is] hurting the most?” he asked. “They’re hurting the previous group of immigrants, because they’re the ones who are most likely to be competing in the same economic fields.”
(photo credit, homepage and article images: Michael Vadon, Flickr)