Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) , an immigration reform supporter told WRVO early last year his support for the legislation stems from providing a legal way for illegal immigrants to work. Hanna told WRVO at the time, farmers can’t find enough legal employees to work in the district’s dairy farm industry.
“Why would we want to make criminals out of dairy farmers simply because they want to run their business, when we know there are people available to do the work,” he said.
“It’s important that New Yorkers find a legal way to help people come here, do the work they want to do, know who they are, where they are how they contribute, what they cost, have a way to find those people and if necessary send them back,” said Hanna. “But our process today is out of control.”
The New York Republican believes that foreign immigrants do not take American jobs.
“Much immigrant labor is highly skilled and thus presumably not differentiated,” he told The Washington Post. “Why would wage competition not incur in the labor market?”
Utica, which serves as a large chunk of Hanna’s district is among the top ten cities in the state with a current unemployment rate of 6.4 percent or above. That number once skyrocketed to 10.5 percent in 2012.
By September 2012, Hanna introduced the Science Technology Education and Math (STEM) Education Opportunity Act. Hanna touted that the bill would give a federal tax deduction equal to a student’s STEM higher education expenses, like room and board.
Hanna targeted the legislation towards attracting foreign immigrants as opposed to Americans to fill jobs in the math and science fields. In an April 2013 op-ed piece for the Council for Global Immigration Hanna wrote, “We need to educate our own population and encourage the study of STEM subjects from an early age. But creating a deep and broad pipeline of domestic STEM teachers, students and workers will take many years, so we need to change our immigration laws now to allow more foreign STEM workers to fill immediate job openings.”
Utica was once a thriving industrial hub with over 100,000 residents NPR reported in 2006. However, following the 1995 shutdown of a nearby Air Force Base in Rome, the population took a dive to a mere 60,000 individuals. The number has not changed much in 8 years. Home to a refugee center, Utica continues to be a draw for foreign immigrant labor. The population of foreign born persons in Utica between 2008 and 2012 was 17 percent.
Interestingly, when the time came for Hanna to be at a The Joint Economic Committee hearing in April of 2013, he ditched the hearing. The intent of the meeting was to find bipartisan solutions to handling the problem of long-term unemployment. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) appointed Hanna to the committee just two months prior.
More recently, Hanna banded with 69 other immigration reform Republicans, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and almost the entire Democratic Party to defeat an amendment to the FY 2015 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 4745), proposed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), to bar Section 8 housing for individuals who are in the country illegally.
Gohmert referenced a 2009 HUD study showing that 0.4% of spending for housing programs goes towards subsidizing illegal immigrants. If the amendment passed, over $7 million would have been cut out of the Public Housing Capital Fund. Over $17 million would have been slashed from the Public Housing Operating fund. These numbers are proportionate to the 0.4% share of the overall budget aimed at housing subsidies for illegals.
“In a time when some American citizens can’t get the housing they need it is unacceptable that those ineligible are stealing from them. This amendment would help encourage HUD to look into this problem and make corrections in their oversight and enforcement of the laws that should govern the way they run the federal housing assistance programs,” Gohmert. said.
Hanna, however, two days after the defeat of Gohmert’s amendment, said in a video release he said, “When I ran for Congress, I promised you I’d fight for fiscal sanity and conservative solutions and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”