House Speaker Paul Ryan is rejecting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for new immigration controls that would boost wages for American workers and keep immigration levels within its historic norms.
Ryan instead said that he believes the nation’s immigration system is intended to help the economy and business interests, who want an increased flow of low-wage foreign labor.
“What I’ve always believed is that you need to retool the legal system so that it fits the economy’s needs,” Ryan said during a sit-down with the Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein.
Brownstein asked Ryan about Trump’s Arizona immigration speech in which Trump called for the establishment of a “new immigration commission to develop a new set of reforms to our legal immigration system” such as enacting “new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first” and keeping “immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms.”
Trump had explained that between 1965 and 2015, the U.S. admitted 59 million immigrants. “Many of these arrivals have greatly enriched our country,” Trump said. “But we now have an obligation to them, and to their children, to control future immigration – as we have following previous immigration waves – to ensure assimilation, integration and upward mobility. Within just a few years immigration as a share of national population is set to break all historical records.”
Brownstein asked Ryan what he thought “about limiting immigration so that we maintain a certain population balance.”
“I’ve never looked at it like that,” Ryan said— later explaining that he did not support Trump’s call for immigration curbs because he wants to be able to import more foreign migrants into the country who will milk Wisconsin cows.
“[We need to] transition our legal system so visas are given to what are needed for the economy,” Ryan said. “Do we have a shortage of dairy workers in western Wisconsin? Yes, we do! Do we have a shortage of high-tech Silicon Valley software engineers? Boomers are retiring. We’re going to need medical professions. We’re going to need nurses and doctors… We’re going to need people.”
Ryan’s suggestion that there is a shortage of high-skilled tech workers is a favorite talking point amongst business interests and Silicon Valley executives, who stand to profit from an influx of low-wage foreign workers. However, it is a talking point that tech labor market experts have thoroughly debunked. U.S. Census data shows there are more than 11 million Americans with degrees with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) who lack employment in these fields. In fact, U.S. schools are graduating two times more students with STEM degrees than are annually finding employment in these fields.
Ryan’s mention of low-skilled labor shortages amongst Wisconsin dairy farmers is equally interesting, as Ryan has previously suggested that an influx of low-skilled immigrant labor helps Wisconsin dairy farmers keep wages low. As Ryan told the National Journal in 2013:
“[Low-skilled immigrants] bring labor to our economy so jobs can get done. The dairy farmers in western Wisconsin are having a hard time finding anyone to help them produce their products, which are mostly cheese. If they can’t find workers, then they can’t produce, and we’ll end up importing. The flip side of the argument is: Just raise wages enough to attract people. But you raise wages too much in certain industries, then you’ll get rid of those industries, and we’ll just have to import.”
Ryan has repeatedly made the case for open borders immigration system. Under this globalist worldview, any willing employer should be able to hire any willing worker regardless of what country they live in. Under this theory, there is no limitation whatsoever to the amount of labor that can be imported into the country and, thus, there is no preference given to American citizens for jobs.
During his interview with Brownstein, Ryan went on to suggest that the country would soon face labor shortages of such a dire extreme that even if the U.S. were to employ all of the 94 million Americans outside of the labor force, there still would be U.S. jobs that would go unfilled. Ryan said:
“Even if we… get every able-bodied person out of welfare to work—there are 94 million able-bodied adults that aren’t in the workforce, some by choice, many not. Even if we get everybody off of welfare into work… we’re still going to have population needs because of the demographics in this country.”
Ryan suggested that the U.S. will “need” foreign workers to fill skill-sets that “cannot” be met by Americans.
“We’re going to need legal immigrants. So that means, in my mind, visas ought to be given based upon your contribution to society, your skill-set that is needed in our economy that cannot, is not, being filled by Americans.”
According to Pew polling data, 92 percent of the Republican electorate—and 83 percent of the American electorate overall—want to see immigration levels frozen or reduced. Based on Pew’s data, Ryan represents only a minuscule seven percent of the GOP electorate that wants to expand immigration levels.