Unemployment in America is a "national emergency" and President Barack Obama should focus his agenda on solving that problem instead of expanding immigration, which will only exacerbate the situation, says Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Writing in USA Today, the Alabama Republican argued Sunday that his party needs to oppose the president's plans
by pointing to data showing that in the past decade high levels of immigration have displaced U.S. workers and driven down wages for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
"House Republicans should reply to the president's immigration effort with a simple message: Our first duty is to help struggling Americans find good work and rising wages," Sessions wrote.
"Today, the U.S. admits 1 million immigrants a year. The plan supported by the president and Senate Democrats would increase that to 3 million a year, or 30 million largely lower-skill immigrants over the next 10."
Sessions noted that most recent polls show the public opposes increases in the number of immigrants. Opposition, he said, is particularly pronounced among lower- and middle-income earners who will have to compete with new workers for increasingly scarce jobs.
"Did anyone ask the American people whether they wanted to triple immigration?" he wrote.
Sessions also used his op-ed piece to highlight research by Harvard professor George Borjas showing that high levels of immigration from 1980 through 2000 resulted in a 7.4% wage reduction for workers without a high school diploma. Current immigration policy, according to the research, resulted in a net wage loss of $402 billion for workers competing directly with immigrant labor.
"Republicans have a chance to recapture the trust of millions of disaffected voters who have turned away. But it will mean resisting the influence of corporate interests acting on the president's behalf. And it will mean recognizing the practical real-world concerns of everyday Americans," Sessions said.
"The choice is clear. Either the GOP can help the White House deliver a crushing hammer blow to the middle class — or it can stand alone as the one party defending the legitimate interests of American workers."
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