Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) discussed the RAISE Act immigration reforms with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily.
Perdue said the RAISE Act does not “touch the temporary work visas or the illegal situation,” because “the president is already moving on the illegal situation.”
“You see the border crossings going down dramatically so far, the illegal border crossings,” he pointed out.
“What we do is focus on our legal immigration system, which is totally broken,” he said. “We bring in 1.1 million people today, and only one out of 15 come in with skills. The rest are people that come in as extended family members. It’s called chain immigration.”
“The result of all that is, over half of the immigrant households in America today are participants in our welfare systems. That’s not the American dream. This is why it’s so broken, and we can fix it,” said Perdue.
“What we’ve done is focused on a merit-based immigration system that is modeled, really, after the Canadian and Australian systems that have been in place for decades, and they’ve been proven to work. This is pro-worker. It’s pro-growth. It’s been proven to work,” he said.
“It focuses on six major areas: education, age, job, investment – if somebody wants to bring a business here – major accomplishments, and English. We give points for having English proficiency,” Perdue explained.
“This actually protects our low-skilled workers, and it provides a higher-skill worker. It attempts to deal with the income disparity that we’ve witnessed over the last 20 years here in America,” he said.
Perdue noted that, contrary to the bizarre talking point advanced by some opponents of the immigration reform plan, requiring English-language proficiency does not limit immigrants to “white people,” given that about 69 countries around the world have English as an official language.
“I’ve lived in Europe. I’ve lived in Asia. I’ve worked much of my career outside the United States. English is the language of business,” he said. “This not unusual for us to have this as a requirement.”
“By the way, it’s not a prerequisite,” he added. “Someone could still come under this system with minimal English skills but they have really, really strong education skills or something else that really can give us an indication that they will be productive here. That’s the whole bottom line is, they come in – there’s a reason they’re coming in to add to the economy and have a chance at the American dream without stealing it from existing workers in the United States.”
Perdue clarified that the merit-based immigration system uses a 100-point scale, following the Canadian and Australian models, and English-language proficiency counts for 12 points at most.
“If you’re a perfect English speaker, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’re going to be able to qualify under this merit-based system,” he said. “We have to see evidence that you’re going to bring skills that are employable. We give points for a job based on income, so it can’t be a job cutting grass. You get very few points for that, but a Ph.D. that can be an innovator and that sort of thing, we give them a few more points. It’s based on the kind of job it is and the compensation.”
“This is a very thoughtful, a very measured approach,” he argued. “We’re not trying to solve all of the immigration issues now. There’s one of the problems the attempts we’ve had in the past: they’re trying to solve everything at once. We have carved out 1.1 million green card recipients each year, and we said this needs to move to a merit-based system.”
“The liberal left better look at their history because, honestly, they looked at this in the mid-90s under Bill Clinton and they said, ‘Look, we need to be more like Canada in relation to bringing in skilled workers with a merit-based system,’” Perdue observed. “This is something that really shouldn’t be that partisan, frankly.”
Perdue cited “very strong” polling numbers, in the sixty percent range, indicating that Americans believe immigration should use a merit-based system.
“Right now, it’s family-based, so if you have a worker that comes in – and remember, only 1 out of 15 immigrants come in with skills to work – the rest are these chained extended families,” he stressed. “So today, if a worker gets a green card, they can bring their immediate family, but they can bring their extended family. We have workers that have been here for ten years, they’re still bringing family members, extended family members who may have no skills, and there’s no requirement to have any skills.”
“In addition to that, we have country cap quotas. It’s all arbitrary, and some of these numbers are fifty years old. It really does prohibit us from bringing the best and the brightest in here. It’s an archaic system, and we’ve really got to fix it,” he urged.
Perdue said the liberal left does not understand these arguments, “and they don’t want to.”
“You could see the hue and cry from the CNN guy the other day, and then also what Nancy Pelosi said, and everything else,” he said. “When a liberal politician starts to really scream about a new piece of legislation that I put in, I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.”
“There’s going to be a hue and cry, they’re going to say it’s biased, and this and that, but they need to realize that this was a Democratic effort in the mid-90s that looked at best practices and came up and said, ‘You know, we need to have a skills-based approach,” he reiterated.
“This is about developing America and making sure that America can afford to have all the things that the liberals think we need to have,” Perdue contended. “The point is, we’ve gotten to a point where we can’t afford the things that we’re now spending money on.”
“For America to continue to be the economic leader, we’ve got to continue to be the innovator, and we’ve got to continue to be a brain sink for the best and brightest around the world. We’ve also got to close this income gap between the skilled workers and the unskilled workers in America. This bill does all of that,” he said.
Marlow noted that the RAISE Act does not have an “easy path” through our sharply divided Congress and asked for some signs of hope that it might reach President Trump’s desk.
“I’m hoping that because Barbara Jordan and other people – Barbara Jordan is not known as a moderate, and she looked at this; this was back in the 90s when she was running this commission on immigration and said this was a pretty good idea,” Perdue replied.
“I think when people look at it away from the partisan – if a Democrat had brought this, we’d have plenty of Democratic support, and I could see a Democrat bringing this,” he said. “Look, Canada is not known for its conservatism, right? And here is a program that they’ve had for decades, and it’s worked. We looked at its objective. We looked at best practice and came up with something that we thought was nonpartisan and really would make America stronger.”
“This isn’t about necessarily cutting the number of immigrants. That’s a derivative number. What we did is say, ‘Look, let’s look at the quality of people coming in and make sure that they have something to add to our way of life that they can assimilate, and they can contribute to what we’re trying to do here, and then have an opportunity for their own American dream. Right now, we bring people in, entrap them in the welfare system, and they have no chance of chasing the American dream,” said Perdue.
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