After Backing Amnesty, Tea Party Express Chair Claims He Stands with Sen. Sessions, American Workers

A day after writing an op-ed in favor of amnesty legislation that the Congressional Budget Office determined would lower the wages of American workers, Sal Russo, the co-founder and chief strategist of the Tea Party Express group, claimed on Thursday that he stood with American workers and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

In an appearance on Laura Ingraham's talk radio show on Thursday, Russo said that President Ronald Reagan believed that importing more foreign workers would depress wages and make it more difficult for Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder to find opportunities. That is a point Sessions has been relentlessly making while championing American workers of all races, emphasizing that amnesty legislation would hurt black and Latino workers disproportionately.

"I totally agree with Senator Sessions," Russo asserted. Ingraham immediately countered, telling Russo that if she were to call Sessions and ask if Russo was with him on the issue, Sessions would say, "Uh, no. No. And No."

Numerous reports have refuted the notion that there is a shortage of American high-tech workers, but that did not stop Russo from claiming exactly that in his Wednesday op-ed. 

"Our economy has long outgrown the visa programs we have now. In high-skilled industries such as engineering and medicine, we do not have the talent we need to fill the jobs," Russo claimed in Roll Call. "These industries are the fastest growing in the country, and we depend on them for job creation and economic growth."

Ingraham noted Russo cited Michael Bloomberg's Partnership for a New American Economy in his op-ed and mentioned that Bloomberg favors "an unending supply of foreign workers coming into this country to take jobs in this country" and is "in favor of an all-out amnesty.” Citing Bloomberg's pro-amnesty group, Russo claimed in his op-ed that there will be a "shortage of 235,000 jobs in science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] fields by 2018," even though the idea of the STEM shortage has also been questioned by a report in the the Atlantic, while there are more American STEM graduates than there are job openings for them.

Ingraham noted in the interview that pro-amnesty advocates who are spending millions on the issue, like Bloomberg and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, want an "unending flow of cheap labor that keeps the rich rich and the Chamber of Commerce happy." Russo struggled to articulate whether amnesty legislation would help American workers and said he could not answer whether he was for a pathway to citizenship for all of the country's illegal immigrants. 

Russo also joined amnesty advocates like Grover Norquist and American Conservative Union head Al Cardenas on Wednesday in what was billed as the first of a monthly series of pro-amnesty meetings and calls that they hope will "keep up the drumbeat for reform in the face of continued resistance from conservatives in the House," according to The Hill.

Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, said the position of her Tea Party was different from Russo's on Monday: "We must first fully secure our borders. Immigration reform cannot happen without this necessary first step."

“We support legal immigration and the rule of law, according to the Constitution. There is already a legal path to citizenship for those wishing to come to the United States," Martin continued. "Anyone who decides to get off that path and enter the United States illegally should not be given any sort of amnesty because doing so is neither fair nor equal treatment under the law."

Martin also emphasized that Americans must "demand the Obama administration enforce our current immigration laws" and that conservatives will watch Congress "like a hawk and will do everything to make sure immigration reform is done in a manner that respects the law and those who abide by it.”

"Those who are determined to have entered the country illegally and are on-track for deportation should be deported," she said. "Those who have been convicted of crimes and are serving sentences for their crimes should remain incarcerated until their sentences have been served."


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