WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senior White House Advisor Stephen Miller fought back against New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush at Wednesday’s White House press briefing over a new Trump-backed legal immigration reform bill entitled the RAISE Act.
Thrush challenged Miller on the assertion that there is a connection between low skilled immigration and loss of American jobs. “There have been a lot of studies out there that don’t show a correlation between low skilled immigration and the loss of jobs for native workers,” said Thrush, who called on Miller to cite “one or two studies with specific numbers that prove the correlation between those two things, because your entire policy is based on that.”
Thrush then accused the administration of pushing infrastructure out of the way for immigration, stating that he had “sources” that have claimed that is the case.
Miller responded that “isn’t true.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 2, 2017
Miller then addressed Thrush’s first request by citing several studies from individuals including: George Borjas on the Mariel boatlift, Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and Steve Camarota of the U.S. Center for Immigration studies.
As Thrush came back citing a study from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, Miller replied citing data from that study that said mass immigration may cost close to $300 billion dollars a year.
Thrush soon pushed back against Miller’s suggestion that common sense be used with the retort, “I’m not asking for common sense, I’m asking for statistics.”
“Maybe it’s about time that we had compassion, Glenn, for American workers. President Trump has met with American workers who have been replaced by foreign workers,” said Miller. “Ask them how this has affected their lives.”
The two bounced back and forth before Miller said, “If you look at the premise, Glenn, of bringing in low-skilled labor, it’s based on the idea of labor shortage for lower skilled jobs. There isn’t.”
Miller pointed to a record high number of working age persons in the United States who aren’t currently working. “Almost one in four Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 aren’t even employed.” He then cited a statistic that one in five African American males without a high school diploma “has plummeted some 40 percentage points since the mass wave of unskilled migration began.”
Miller stated that it is common sense that some companies want to bring in more unskilled labor “because they know that it drives down wages and reduces labor cost.” He said the question to the government is rather, “To whom is our duty?” He answered his own question, “Our duty is to U.S. citizens and U.S. workers to promote rising wages for them.”
“If low-skilled immigration was an unalloyed good for the economy then why have we been growing at 1.5 percent for the last 17 years at a time of unprecedented new low wage arrivals? It’s just, the facts speak for themselves,” said Miller. He then said having ultra-high skilled workers at the back of the line makes no sense in 2017.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana