CONCORD, New Hampshire — Former Sen. Scott Brown opened up the economic battlefield on immigration here Tuesday night with a little help from NBC’s Meet The Press host Chuck Todd.
“When you’re looking at that bill, what it also does is it immediately gives an opportunity for the president to authorize upwards of 11 million people to get jobs,” Brown said when talking about the Senate-passed “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. “I want to fight for jobs for New Hampshire. Here’s another thing about immigration. I voted to secure the border on two occasions. I voted to send troops to the border. We need to absolutely secure the border. The president through his executive order what he’s proposing to do is actively expand the definition of refugee to somebody who’s here [illegally] to work.”
Brown’s answer on this came after Shaheen dodged a question from Todd, the debate’s moderator, on the economic effects of a massive increase in immigration and amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“Is there any part of this Senate bill, and I know it’s a compromise and compromises mean you’re not going to like some things, but specifically on the idea of H1B visas when they come in, do you think it is pro-American worker enough or not pro-American worker enough when it comes to importing guest workers into the country?” Todd asked Shaheen.
Shaheen completely avoided the question, instead opting to tout the “Gang of Eight” bill’s GOP support.
“You know, we have a problem with our immigration system and we need to address that in a comprehensive way,” Shaheen responded. “That means we need to address the visa system that’s not working now for the tourism industry here, for our farming industry here, for our high-tech companies here. The bill that we passed starts first with addressing security at the border. It adds 700 miles of border fence. It increases the number of border agents. It provides additional resources for interdiction. It puts in place, and for surveillance. It puts in place an E-Verify system so people can make sure–so employers can make sure the people they’re hiring are actually legal here. I think this is the approach we should be taking. It’s comprehensive and it’s been disappointing to hear that my opponent doesn’t support this comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan [vote]. It has the support of both Sen. Ayotte and Sen. McCain. And I think we should urge the House to take up this bill and pass it.”
Brown has hammered Shaheen on immigration over and over again this year–attacking her for failing to vote to secure the border, and hitting her for rubber stamping President Barack Obama’s planned executive amnesty, something Shaheen says she opposes but hasn’t done anything to stop him.
Brown’s work on immigration has already earned Shaheen a million-dollar boost from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who pumped emergency money into the Granite State in early October fearing that Brown would beat her, undercutting Zuckerberg’s FWD.us work in favor of amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration.
But this is the first time Brown has honed in on what may be the most potent part of the immigration debate: how amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration would displace American workers from their jobs and drive wages down.
Harvard labor economist George Borjas has argued that increased immigration rates in the latter part of the 20th century reduced wages and employment opportunities for lower-skilled American workers–like the tens of thousands of blue-collar workers across New Hampshire at the Portsmouth shipyard or in the state’s various factories–by more than 7 percent. U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow argues that high rates of low-skilled immigration have drastically hurt and will continue to hurt blacks across the country if they continue to rise.
The Center For Immigration Studies found that the Senate immigration bill would double the flow of foreign guest workers and would triple green cards for unskilled laborers and work permits for unskilled illegal aliens–something that would mean they are competing for those blue-collar jobs Americans are having trouble getting or finding right now. Meanwhile, according to CBS News, wages are down across all occupations–something the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has acknowledged happens with high immigration levels.
On the high-skilled labor side of immigration–which Todd mentioned in his question about H1Bs–Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) guest workers flowing into the U.S. are hurting job opportunities and wages for Americans seeking those jobs, Howard University’s Ron Hira and other experts like University of California-Davis’ Norm Matloff, Rutgers’ Hal Salzman, Georgia State’s Paula Stephan, and Harvard Law’s Michael Teitelbaum argued in a USA Today op-ed this past summer. However, elites like Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway have pleaded for more of those guest workers.
“As longtime researchers of the STEM workforce and immigration who have separately done in-depth analyses on these issues, and having no self-interest in the outcomes of the legislative debate, we feel compelled to report that none of us has been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages,” the USA Today piece asserted.
According to a recent U.S. News and World Report article from Rutgers’ Salzman, STEM graduates in America are having trouble finding employment–despite the claims from those CEOs that they need more foreign workers. Under the Shaheen-backed Senate Gang of Eight bill or an Obama executive action like it, Salzman noted, 100 percent of new IT jobs in America would go to foreigners. Even under Obama’s current immigration policies, which Shaheen supports, nearly two-thirds of new IT jobs in America go to foreigners. The U.S. Census Bureau announced in July that 74 percent of Americans with STEM degrees aren’t even working in STEM fields.
That’s not to mention that, according to Stanford University’s Vivek Wadwa in the Washington Post, Silicon Valley has a horrendous record of hiring women.
Perhaps more importantly than the policy implications for Brown right a couple weeks out, however, ispolling data compiled for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The polling data, gathered by Paragon Insights, found that 71 percent of all likely voters nationwide would support a GOP senate candidate who believes that “Immigration policy needs to serve the interests of the nation as a whole, not a few billionaire CEOs and immigration activists lobbying for open borders.” Only 16 percent said they wouldn’t. Women, as Breitbart News previously exclusively reported on the polling data, support that sentiment even more–by a 73 percent to 14 percent margin, whereas men support it 69 percent to 17 percent. Even Obama supporters support that concept by a 61 percent to 21 percent nod, and liberals back it 59 percent to 21 percent.
Brown spent most of his answer on immigration talking about securing the border and blocking amnesty.
“Well I have a different approach as to immigration,” Brown said when asked by Todd why disagrees with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who voted for the Gang of Eight bill. “The first thing you do is you need to secure the border. It’s not being secured. That bill I thought and others thought created incentives during that coming out period to have them step out of the shadows–I cannot provide EBT cards, preferential housing and other benefits to people who have broken our laws. That’s something where Sen. Ayotte and Sen. Shaheen and President Obama and I differ. That’s what it’s like to be an independent senator–you can actually disagree with your party and do it often. I was the most independent senator. I’m not going to rubber stamp a policy or rubber stamp a bill that I don’t think works.”
When Todd asked Brown to define what a “secure border” means, Brown said that it means “when people don’t come across it.”
“If you think the border is secure, folks, it’s not. The border is absolutely not secure. We see it each and every day. We see it in video clips and when we speak to the senators and mayors and governors who represent those great states. It’s not secure. We need to do it through fences, through walls, through aerial surveillance, through infrared, through troops, through border security. There’s a whole host of ways to actually secure our border, and it’s not being done. I have voted to secure our border. Whatever we do we have to make sure that that happens first. The president in his policy right now on immigration, his effort right now is to expand and give status to people who are here illegally.”
When Shaheen was asked what the metric for a secure border is, she again ducked in her response. “I think the Senate bill puts in place strong measures to secure the border,” Shaheen said. “And if you really want to secure the border, then my opponent would support that bill. If the House takes it up, it’s going to add fencing and it’s going to add border agents.”
Shaheen also accused Brown of “grandstanding” on immigration.
“What Scott Brown has done is to grandstand on this issue. Even the former chairman of the Republican Party said he’s grandstanding, trying to make political hay from border security,” Shaheen said.
While it’s certainly late in the campaign, Brown has seemingly done the impossible by closing a massive gap in polls between him and Shaheen by hammering her on the insecure border, the Ebola threat for her and the president’s lack of a support for banning flights to and from West Africa–she’s since flip-flopped, and now supports a flight ban–and for lack of resolve in dealing with ISIS terrorists. If Brown hones in one last time on the major national issue of the economic effects of amnesty–like he’s done with the security issues this year and like he did with Obamacare in 2010–moving forward like he seems to be gearing up to do, he may just pull off the upset of the year and beat Shaheen in bluish-purple New Hampshire.