MIAMI, FL– Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Sen. Marco Rubio all talked tough on immigration while concealing their prior support for expanding guest worker programs during Thursday night’s Republican debate.
According to Pew polling data, 92 percent of the Republican electorate — and 83 percent of the American electorate overall — believes that the level of immigration present in the country should be either frozen or reduced.
This may explain why Kasich, Cruz, and Rubio did not volunteer their prior support for increasing guest worker programs. For instance, Sen. Cruz was asked about the nation’s rate of visa issuances — which distributes one million green cards and 700,000 guest worker visas annually. When asked what he believes the “right level” of immigration should be, Cruz said:
We need to redefine our legal immigration system so that it meets the needs of the American economy. Right now, we’re bringing in far too many low skilled workers. What that is doing is driving down the wages of hard-working Americans. Our system isn’t working.
Cruz did not mention his amendment to the Gang of Eight bill to double the supply of green cards — which would have resulted in an explosion of low-skilled immigration — nor did he mention his push to quintuple the H-1B program, which would allow American tech and white-collar workers to be replaced with lower-paid foreign labor.
Indeed, during the Gang of Eight fight, Cruz said that the immigration expansions of the Rubio-Schumer bill were the “best” part of the bill and that they did not go “nearly far enough.”
The Gang of Eight bill would have tripled green card issuances — permanently resettling 33 million foreign nationals on green cards in the span of a single decade — and would have doubled foreign guest worker visas. However, at the time, Cruz said:
The best aspect of the so-called Gang of Eight bill is the reform that is found concerning legal immigration. I think it makes some positive steps with regard to legal immigration, but I don’t think it goes nearly far enough… if we want to improve high-skilled innovation in my view we should not do so by half measures. We should do so with a significant step that materially improves the status quo, and for that reason I’ve introduced this amendment to increase the cap by five hundred percent.
During the course of the 2016 race, Cruz has since introduced reform legislation. However. Cruz has not ruled out the possibility of an increase in the future nor has he replied to Jeff Sessions’ candidates questionnaire about immigration reduction.
Similarly, when John Kasich was asked during last night’s debate if he thought a “pause on green cards issued to foreign workers” would help American workers, as Trump has suggested, Kasich said in part: “I think we ought to have a guest worker program, where people come in, work and go home.”
However the U.S. already has dozens of guest worker immigration programs bringing an unprecedented number of foreign workers into the country. Moreover, Kasich has previously said that he believes these programs are “too narrow“– suggesting that he supports expanding guest worker programs. This places him in the tiny minority of the Republican electorate, only 7% of whom want to increase immigration.
However, perhaps the most jarring declaration came from Sen. Rubio — one of Congress’ biggest champions of the wage-depressing H-1B guest worker program that has been used to displace scores of his own constituents.
During last night’s debate, Rubio made demonstrably false statements regarding one of his corporate backer’s use of the controversial H-1B program. This is especially remarkable given the fact that Rubio has repeatedly asserted that none of the other candidates “understands immigration better than I do.”
During the CNN debate, the Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan asked Rubio about how Florida Disney fired Rubio’s constituents and replaced them with low-wage foreign workers brought in to the country on H-1B visas. Disney is one of Sen. Rubio’s biggest financial backers, having donated more than $2 million according to Open Secrets.
The Florida Disney victims have said that Rubio never reached out to them after Disney fired them and forced them to train their lesser-skilled foreign replacements. Instead Sen. Rubio introduced legislation to expand H-1b job theft. Rubio’s 2015 I-Squared bill—endorsed by Disney’s CEO via his immigration lobbying firm—would triple H-1B visas with no protections for American workers.
At last night’s debate, Dinan said:
Senator Rubio in late 2014, Disney laid off 250 tech workers in Orlando, replacing many of them with foreign workers. Some of the Americans even had to train their own replacements. You support increasing the H-1B visa program that made it possible to bring in these foreign workers. Doesn’t this program take jobs away from Americans?
If it’s being abused the way Disney did. Understand that program, it is illegal now under that program to use it to replace American workers. Under that program, you have to prove not only that you’re not replacing Americans, but that you’ve tried to hire Americans. And if a company is caught abusing that process, they should never be allowed to use it again.
Dinan later asked: “Why not call for a pause on H1Bs until those abuses you’ve talked about are solved?”
Rubio said: “Well first, I think — well, I’d be open to it if it takes a pause. But I don’t think it takes a pause to enforce the law. What they are doing is they are in fact using that program to replace an American. If there’s an American working at Disney and they bring someone from another country using H1B to replace their direct job, that’s in violation of the law.
However, despite Rubio’s claim that no candidate is more knowledgeable about immigration than he is—this statement is not correct.
Rubio’s claim that “it is illegal now under that program to use it to replace an American worker,” is simply not true.
Replacing American workers with H-1B workers is legal. As page 35 of the Department of Labor Strategic Plan plainly states: “H-1B nondependent employers are not subject to the conditions, and their H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker.”
Disney is not an H-1B dependent company, and, as such, it can legally “displace” a “U.S. worker… from the job in favor of the foreign worker”– contrary to Rubio’s declaration.
Moreover, Rubio’s claim that “you have to prove not only that you’re not replacing Americans, but that you’ve tried to hire Americans” is similarly not true. This claim is reminiscent of an assertion Rubio made in a previous debates, which Breitbart News has already fact-checked. Rubio is thus doubling down on the false statement. As Howard University professor Ron Hira tells Breitbart, “This is absolutely false. There is no recruiting requirement for virtually all H-1B employers including Disney. This is a major flaw in the program.”
While Rubio made false representations about his corporate backer’s use of the H-1B program, Donald Trump was candid about his position on the H-1B issue:
I know the H1B very well. And it’s something that I frankly use and I shouldn’t be allowed to use it. We shouldn’t have it. Very, very bad for worker…it’s very bad for our workers and it’s unfair for our workers. And we should end it. Very importantly, the Disney workers endorsed me, as you probably read. And I got a full endorsement because they are the ones that said, and they had a news conference, and they said, he’s the only one that’s going to be able to fix it. Because it is a mess.
Indeed, at last month’s Congressional hearing examining the impact large-scale immigration has had on America’s tech workforce, immigration attorney John Miano said:
I was having an email exchange with someone who is very well known in the industry and he urged me to point out to you that it seems that the growing consensus amongst tech workers, at this point, is that the only way this [i.e. H-1B job theft] is going to get fixed is by an executive order by President Trump.
As Trump explained, Rubio’s own constituents—two former Disney workers—have endorsed Trump for President, and not Sen. Rubio.
At a rally in Alabama last month, ex-Disney worker Dena Moore told a crowd of tens of thousands, “What a great disappointment Marco Rubio is… backed by Disney and other companies to push through legislation that have brought H-1B visas to us and he has sabotaged Americans… Rubio’s staff said in 2013 explaining the [guest worker expansions in Gang of Eight] bill ‘American workers can’t cut it.’ Shame on you Marco Rubio,” Moore declared.
Sara Blackwell, the attorney representing the American Disney victims in their discrimination lawsuit against Disney, has similarly said, “I think Sen. Rubio is a liar. When you tell America that there are not enough qualified American workers whether you are Mark Zuckerberg, or [Disney CEO] Bob Iger, or Marco Rubio — when you say that there aren’t enough qualified Americans while hundreds of qualified Americans are being fired, and replaced by less qualified foreigners, that’s a straight lie. And I think Rubio lies. And the only motivation I can imagine he has to do so is the support he gets from his corporate donors.”