Bernie Sanders Rips Immigration Bill: 'Let Us Put Our Young People into Jobs Not into Jail'
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a liberal independent, ripped the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill on Tuesday on the Senate floor, arguing it would give American jobs to foreigners in a time when Americans need those jobs more than ever.
Sanders said that, while he supports many parts of the Gang of Eight bill, including the amnesty or path to citizenship with legalization, “what I do not support is that at a time when nearly 14 percent of Americans do not have a full-time job, at a time when youth unemployment is somewhere around 16 percent and kids from California to Maine are desperately seeking employment, I do not support a huge expansion in the guest worker program that will allow hundreds of thousands of entry-level guest workers to come into this country.”
Sanders argued that “this is important for at least two reasons: You have kids all over America who are wondering how they’re going to afford to be able to go to college, and many of these young people are going out looking for summer jobs, looking for part-time jobs in order to help them pay for college and that is terribly important.
“We should not pass legislation which makes it harder for young people to get jobs in order to put away a few bucks to help pay for college,” Sanders said, adding that “then there’s another group of people and those are young people who we don’t enough about, not everybody in America is going to college. There are million of young people who graduate high school who want to go out and start their careers and make some money and move up the ladder. There are others who have dropped out of high school. We cannot turn our backs on those young people. They need jobs as well. And If young people, young high school graduates for example, are unable to find entry-level jobs, how will they ever be able to develop the skills, the experience and the confidence they need to break into the job market? And if they don’t get those skills, if they don’t get those jobs and that income, there is a very strong possibility that they may end up in antisocial or self-destructive activities.”
Sanders went on to say that “street corners all over this country” are currently filled with “kids who have nothing to do.”
“And what are they doing when they stand on street corners?” Sanders asked rhetorically. “What they are doing is getting into drugs, they’re getting into crime, they’re getting into self-destructive activity. We already have too many young people in this country using drugs. We already have too many young people involved in criminal activity. As a nation, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, including China. Let us put our young people into jobs, not into jails.”
Sanders added that he has continually heard on the U.S. Senate floor that the “best antipoverty program is a paycheck.”
“Well, let us give the young people of this country a paycheck,” Sanders said. “Let’s put them to work. Let’s give them at least the entry-level jobs they need in order to earn some income today but even more importantly, let us allow them to gain the job skills they need so that they know what an honest day’s work is about and can move up the economic aldder and get better jobs in the future.”