WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered the following remarks in response to Senate Democrat leaders’ desire to pass an immigration bill that would reduce Americans’ wages and employment by dramatically increasing the supply of new labor:
“Today Majority Leader Reid and Senator Chuck Schumer came down to the Senate floor to demand that the House of Representatives pass their immigration bill. They labeled Republicans as ‘extremists’ for not giving in to their demands.
Senator Schumer said that Republicans are ‘xenophobes’ because they don’t want to pass his plan.
Let’s talk about what is extreme.
A new report reveals that this Administration has released 36,000 criminal aliens from ICE detention—including this report found: 193 homicide convictions, 1,153 sexual offenders, 303 kidnapping convictions and 1,075 aggravated assault convictions.
These dangerous offenders should be placed back into custody.
You know what else is extreme? Extreme is trying to pass an immigration bill that would double the flow of new guest workers into our country—and triple the grants of permanent admissions—when 50 million working-age Americans are out of work.
It is not xenophobic but compassionate to say we should focus our attention on helping struggling American workers. It is not xenophobic but out patriotic duty to defend the integrity of our borders and the rule of law. It is the oath we all took as Senators to defend the constitution of the United States.
There was one group of people omitted from the remarks of Leader Reid and Senator Schumer: American workers.
According to CBO, Senate Democrats immigration bill would increase unemployment while reducing wages for the next 12 years and reducing Americans’ per-person wealth for the next 17 years. If you bring in 30 million people in the next ten years, as this bill would do, tripling the number that would normally be given legal status in America, it would bring down the per-person wealth and it would bring down wages. Surely the Chamber of Commerce understands the free market. Do they not? Surely Senator Reid understands that. Does he not? On a conference call yesterday worrying about the American steel industry, we talked about how a large amount of steel was being dumped into America. Why? What is the impact of that? What is the concern? More steel equals lower prices for steel. If you bring in more cotton, the lower the price is for cotton. If you bring in more labor, you’ll have lower wages for American workers. That’s what the CBO tells us. There is no disputing that, yet we have Senators who repeatedly speak on the floor and say this is going to increase wages. Give me a break. You can’t just say something and think that’s going to make it a reality. It’s the opposite of reality.
Under current law, we admit more than six hundred thousand guest workers each year and 1 million permanent immigrants.
Under the Senate bill, we would admit more than 1.2 million guest workers each year and give permanent residency to 30 million immigrants over the next ten years. A tripling of what the normal rate would be.
Research from Harvard professor Dr. George Borjas shows that American workers lose more than $400 billion in wages each year due to competition from lower-cost workers from abroad. Dr. George Borjas’ research also shows that from 1980-2000, he concluded wages declined 7.4% for lower-skilled American workers due to high immigration levels
So there is no doubt, colleagues, you have to understand this: A vote for the Reid-Schumer immigration bill is a vote to lower the wages of American workers. Not only that, it makes it harder for Americans to get a job, period.
The people hurt worst by the Democrats’ immigration policies are young Americans, low-income Americans, and minority workers.
Minority workers, according to Dr. George Borjas’ studies and others, are particularly damaged by the large flow. This includes Hispanics who come here lawfully or have been legalized in America and are trying to get started on the way up and would like to have a pay raise, but their wages are being pulled down by an extraordinary, unjustified flow of labor that we can’t absorb. We don’t have enough jobs. That’s the problem. We need to ask: Is this a good idea for America? Can we absorb this number of people and maintain decent wages or are we in a longer-term trend and we’re just going to allow middle and lower-income workers see their wages erode? It’s a big issue and we need to be honest about it.
Mr. Schumer says we should do the bidding of the Chamber of Commerce. Well, talking about hijacking, it seems Mr. Schumer’s party has been hijacked by special interests and they’ve lost sight of who they claim to represent—working Americans. That’s my charge. We have a generous immigration policy. We need to make sure it’s enforced correctly and carried out lawfully. That’s what the American people have asked of us. They’ve demanded for 40 years that we create a lawful system that we can be proud of, that treats people fairly. You make your application to come to America, you lay out your qualifications, and they’re evaluated and the best people, the most deserving on an objective basis are the ones that are admitted. What’s wrong with that? That’s what Canada does. That’s what the UK does. It’s what Australia does. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s what we should be doing. We should decide how many people the country can absorb and what wage categories before we admit huge numbers and certainly before we double the number we presently bring in.
Some lawmakers who support the Senate plan claim that tech industries couldn’t find qualified Americans—even though we have twice as many American STEM graduates each year as jobs to fill.
A recent paper by Professor Hal Salzman at Rutgers University carefully analyzed data from the Department of Education and the Department of Labor. This is what he concluded: ‘The first data to consider is the broad notion of a supply crisis in which the United States does not produce enough STEM graduates to meet industry demand. In fact, the nation graduates more than two times as many STEM student each year as find jobs in STEM field. For the 180,000 or so annual opening, U.S. Colleges and Universities supply 500,000 graduates.’ They supply more than twice the number of graduates as we have jobs for now. I’m a little dubious about some of these big business triples claiming they can’t get enough people. We hear people in Silicon Valley promoting any kind of immigration as long as they get more workers. Mr. Salzman says this, ‘The only clear impact of the large IT guest worker inflows over this decade can be seen in salary levels which have remained at their late 1990 levels and which dampens incentives for domestic students to pursue STEM degrees.’ Then he goes on to say this, and I agree with this line, ‘If there is a shortage, where are the market indicators?’
So, Mr. Donohue and your friends at the Chamber of Commerce, you believe in the free market. Why are wages down if we have a shortage of workers? Why aren’t wages going up?
Here’s what one prominent CEO had to say: ‘There are 600,000 jobs in manufacturing that are going unfilled today. This immigration bill can go a long way toward helping us fill those positions.’
From 2000-2013, the grim fact is that all net job gains went to immigrant workers. Under the Democrat plan, if this bill were to pass the house, this would accelerate.
From 2000 to 2013, the number of working-age Americans increased by 16 million. Yet the number of people—American workers—actually fell 1.3 million. That’s why the unemployment rate and the dropout rate is so high. During the same period, 2000-2013, the number of working-age immigrants increased by 8.8 million while 5.3 million immigrants gained employment. So, really, all the jobs created during this period of time have been in effect, mathematically speaking, taken by foreign workers. Is this healthy? Isn’t this one of the reasons we’re having a hard time today?
There are 50 million working-age Americans who aren’t working. Wages today are lower than they were in 1999. Median household incomes have dropped nearly $2,300 dollars since 2009.
The percentage of Americans in workforce is the lowest in 36 years. So Mr. Reid and Mr. Schumer, I’m glad to talk about this issue. I’m glad to talk about immigration. But we’re going to talk about what’s in the interest of the American people. We’re not going to talk about your politics and your ideology and your special interest. We’re going to talk about what’s good for America. And what’s good for America is to get more of our unemployed working, to get wages going up rather than down. I’m not surprised you didn’t talk about workers and wages in your remarks this morning when you demeaned people who disagree with you and oppose your great bill that you’ve drafted that will not work.
We are not going to be scared or intimidated into handing over control of our immigration laws to a small group of special interests who meet in your office.
We need to have a lawful system of immigration that we can be proud of. That is what the American people have asked of us and Congress refuses to give.”