Tom Cotton: ‘The Powerful and Elite Reap the Benefits of a Constant Influx of Low-Skill Labor’

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas
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Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton responded to New York Times columnist David Brooks over his claims that curbing mass immigration would cripple the U.S., tweeting that an influx of low-skilled labor hurts the employment prospects of young Americans, minorities, and established immigrants.

Cotton has sponsored a bill cutting annual immigration flows into the U.S. by half, by limiting entry to 500,000 foreign workers each years. It’s a popular position for a wide swath of voters: 54 percent want immigration halved or reduced to zero, including 22 percent who want a total moratorium. That includes 68 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats who want to see dramatic reductions in migration levels.

The foreign-born population is set to grow more than 700 percent from 1970s levels. Now, it stands at 42.4 million. Unless immigration controls are taken off autopilot, over 78 million foreigners will soon reside in the U.S.

Mass immigration from the Third World is crippling workers in the economy, as Breitbart News reported in July. Every single job created from 2000 to 2014 went to foreign-born workers residing in the U.S.

But Brooks thinks reducing extreme immigration inflows is “the national death wish.”

Waves of low-skilled workers allow natives to take up better jobs, Brooks says. Society stratified between low-skilled serfs and the wealthy benefits everyone: “The essential point is that immigrants don’t take native jobs on any sort of one-to-one basis. They drive economic activity all the way down the river, creating new jobs in some areas and then pushing native workers into more complicated jobs in others. A comprehensive study of non-European Union immigrants into Denmark between 1991 and 2008 found that immigrants did not push down wages, but rather freed natives to do more pleasant work.”

Americans have racked up over one trillion dollars in student loan debt looking to upgrade their skills and get back into the job market. And 41 percent of white, working-class men have given up looking for work in an era of high immigration rates and lowered wages, according to the Economist. That group comprises 23 percent of the U.S. workforce and much of President Donald Trump’s political base. Brooks incorrectly summarizes a National Academy of Sciences study, saying it “found that immigration didn’t drive down most wages, but it had a ‘very small’ and temporary effect on native-born workers without a high school degree.”

That’s not what the report said, Cotton chided Brooks, adding that his bill helps the “forgotten” classes hurt by mass immigration and globalization:

Brooks even takes a shot at those who are troubled by the massive transformation immigration has brought to many American communities. “For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston,” he writes. People’s differences bring them together: “The large immigrant population has paradoxically given the city a very strong, very patriotic and cohesive culture, built around being welcoming to newcomers and embracing the future… In 2015 it had the healthiest philanthropic sector in the nation. The city is coming together to solve its pension problems better than just about any other big place.”

Brooks nurses a powerful dislike of Trump and his populist, America-First nationalism. In an earlier column, he called Trump’s election win “horrific”: “Trump’s bigotry, dishonesty and promise-breaking will have to be denounced. We can’t go morally numb. But he needs to be replaced with a program that addresses the problems that fueled his assent.”

“After all, the guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think,” he warned darkly.

Along with Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue, Cotton introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment, or the RAISE Act, in Congress earlier in February. The bill would end the outdated chain migration system and allow migrants to only bring elderly parents along with them, provided they won’t go on public assistance.

“There has been a generation’s-long decline in blue collar wages,” Cotton said. “The natural effect of having low-skills and no-skills workers in this country is going to be a tighter labor market that is going to put more upward pressure on wages of working folks.”

“Our immigration system should focus on what is good for American citizens–and if parents and siblings or adult children or their spouses have the skills that they need to succeed in our economy and contribute, then they can come in through other employment-based programs,” he added.


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