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Puzder Changes Tune on Immigration: ‘I Will Fiercely Defend American Workers’ Over Foreigners

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor seemed to renounce his former positions on immigration—in which he supported foreigners over American workers for jobs—in a new statement on Saturday, seemingly admitting he was previously wrong.

Andy Puzder said in a Saturday statement according to RealClearPolitics as circulated by Trump’s transition team, in a sign he’s genuinely changing on the issue from prior controversial statements:

My job as a business person is to maximize profits for my company, employees and shareholders. My job as the Secretary of Labor, if confirmed, is to serve U.S. citizen workers – that is my moral and constitutional duty. The public spoke loud and clear in this election, and delivered a mandate to protect American workers. It makes no economic sense to spend trillions on welfare and jobless benefits for out of work Americans while bringing in foreign workers to fill jobs in their place.

As Secretary of Labor, I will fiercely defend American workers and implement my piece of the ten point plan the President-elect laid out. President-elect Trump’s plan to establish new immigration controls will boost wages and ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first. Hire American and Buy American is our policy, and the one supported by voters in both parties. I will not provide guest worker visas to companies that break the rules, and will support reforms to raise wages for Americans — I know the system from the inside, and will be the best champion American workers have had. With 94 million Americans outside the labor force, and massive unemployment in our inner cities and among minority workers, my job will be to help these workers find jobs. We also have large unemployment in our immigrant communities, and these communities benefit the most from clamping down on guest worker programs that compete against them.

It’s unclear if this will be enough of a shift on the issue, but it is a complete repudiation of things he’s said in the past that drew some sharp criticism off the bat once Trump nominated him.

Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food restaurants, previously said multiple times he wanted to bring in foreign workers to supplant American workers.

“The fact is that there are jobs in this country that U.S. citizens, for whatever reason, are reluctant or unwilling to perform,” Puzder wrote in a Politico oped in 2013.

“Immigrants appreciate what America offers,” Puzder said another time when he was lobbying for immigration bills in Washington, D.C., according to the Washington Post. “They are not taking jobs from Americans, because there are not sufficient Americans applying for jobs. Maybe they feel they have better options.”

There are countless other statements he’s made over the years, and they’ve drawn criticism from hardline immigration groups like Numbers USA, FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies, and others. But this new statement from Puzder is a complete reversal on the issue, and if Puzder stays strong and demonstrates he’s truly had a change of heart—and truly wants to represent Trump’s vision—he may be able to make it through the fire into confirmation.

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