Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) says the U.S. legal immigration system is working against middle class Americans, tying stagnant wages to the current higher-than-usual levels of immigrants entering every year.
In an interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum, Cotton said depreciated wages for Americans and the influx of low-skilled laborers are directly connected to one another, an argument President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail.
“What I simply think we need to do is get a legal immigration system that works for American workers,” Cotton told MacCallum. “Over the last several decades, we’ve seen wages stagnate for blue collar workers.”
“At the same time, we’ve had record high numbers of unskilled and low-skilled immigration,” Cotton continued. “I think those two things are directly connected.”
Cotton is a Trump-ally and is seen as taking on the role of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in the U.S. Senate, as he is expected to become Attorney General.
Sessions, for decades, has been on the populist-wing of the Republican Party, often having Americans who lost their jobs to low-skilled foreign workers testify on Capitol Hill.
“But the single issue on which [Trump] campaigned above all others and set himself apart was immigration and refocusing our immigration system on working Americans,” Cotton said of Trump’s win in 2016.
Cotton said one of the largest problems currently with the country’s legal immigration system is the lack of merit-based immigration, where foreign workers are admitted for their skills in a specific occupation.
“Only about one in 15 immigrants coming in today is coming in because they have demonstrated skills or because they fill a demonstrated economic need,” Cotton said. “That means that they directly compete with high school graduates and people that don’t have a high school degree. Of course, that means there are going to be fewer jobs for those American citizens and lower wages.”
As Breitbart News reported, Cotton’s overhaul of the legal immigration system would eliminate the diversity visa lottery, cut the number of green cards allotted every year, reducing legal immigration by 41 percent in the first year.
Cotton has also advanced legislation to address this issue.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Cotton detailed specifics on his legal immigration overhaul, titled the “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment” (RAISE) Act, which would include:
- Reducing number of Green Cards given out every year from about one million to 500,000
- Prioritizing immediate family households, thus ending extended family chain migration to the U.S.
- Creating visa program for U.S. citizens to bring elderly parents to U.S. for caretaking purposes
- Eliminating the diversity visa lottery, where 50,000 visas are “arbitrarily allocated” every year
- Capping permanent U.S. refugees resettlement to 50,000 migrants per year
Under Cotton’s RAISE Act, overall immigration in the first year would be reduced by 41 percent and in 10 years, immigration would be reduced to 50 percent, causing wages to rise and putting American workers back to work, Cotton and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga) assert.
Immigration experts like NumbersUSA’s President Roy Beck are praising Cotton’s move on reducing legal immigration, saying it’s even more than Sessions has offered on the issue.
“With the introduction of this bill, Sen. Cotton has made it clear that he’s stepping not necessarily into the shoes, but onto the platform where Sessions’ shoes have been,” Beck told POLITICO. “This is beyond anything that Sen. Sessions ever did.”
Likewise, the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian praised Cotton’s populist push on legal immigration, telling POLITICO “For him to be the one to carry the standard of immigration reduction really does give it legitimacy.”
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.