Politics

Cotton Hits Sen. Pryor on Amnesty To Win Swing Voters

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The immigration issue transcends racial and ethnic lines because it is a pocketbook dollars-and-cents, jobs-and-wages issue, Cotton says.

The June 2013 report by the Congressional Budget Office shows that mass-immigration lowers Americans’ wages, Cotton said. That’s because surplus workers means lower wages, adding “it is basic supply-and-demand.”

The mass inflow also drives up costs paid by local communities for welfare and schooling, and it leaves native-born and naturalized Americans without the services they paid for, he continued. “People do worry about the impact of large scale immigration increases on wage and unemployment…. [and how it is] putting a strain on local police, education and health-care systems.”

“African-Americans have a higher rate of unemployment than whites [because] they are hurt by mass-scale legal immigration and illegal immigration” Cotton explained.

“Many Hispanics, especially in Arkansas, are naturalized citizens, and they’re now paying for the consequences” of out-of-control immigration, he said.

Overall, politicians should help Americans get higher wages — not lower their wages — by creating a “tight-labor” economy where many employers have to compete for few unemployed workers, Cotton said.

Some groups oppose higher wages, he said. “Why is [that] a bad thing?” Cotton asked “That’s what we should be promoting.”

The immigration issue has nothing to do with culture or ethnic rivalries, he contended. But Democrats “project that kind of [ethnic and culture] language on Republicans.” They’re aided by the established media, because it “is in the tank for amnesty.”

“This is not a matter of Hispanics or any other ethnic group or any other national group,” he said. “This is matter of law-abiding people and law-breaking.”

“We have lots of Hispanics who did the right thing, who play by the rules… [and] that’s exactly the right kind of person we want to immigrate into this country.”

“We should be encouraging and rewarding that kind of legal immigration,” he explained.

That perspective is a close match for the vast majority of Americans, who simultaneously say they welcome immigrants and want fewer immigrants.

Recent polls show that swing-voting independents are opposed to large-scale legal and illegal immigration, Hispanics want much tougher border security, Obama’s immigration policies are strongly opposed by 57 percent and that Americans view immigration primarily as an economic issue.

“The current combination of children-at-the-border-crisis and an increasingly weakened President Obama is awakening a sleeping giant on an issue long eclipsed by the economy and healthcare,” said pollster Kellyanne Conway. “Leverage that. … Take your case directly to the [voters]. They are listening,” she wrote in her campaign memo. “There is a new open-mindedness to populist approaches, regardless of partisan or ideological preferences.” (RELATED: Liberals Up To 3 Times More Likely Than Conservatives To Back Hiring Foreign Workers Instead Of Americans)

But unlike most Americans, Cotton isn’t calling for a reduction in the annual legal immigration of one million foreigners.

“If we enforce the laws currently on the books… if we build a border fence, if we have a [computerized] system to track visas overstays, and if we held business accountable for employing illegal immigrants, our immigration problems would be solved,” he said.

Cotton does not completely reject calls by high-tech companies for a greater inflow of foreign university graduates to take jobs sought by American graduates. “I am open to being persuaded that there is a real shortage in the [science and technology] fields… if the evidence demonstrates that we need more engineers and programmers, I am open to it,” he said.

The country has a resident population of roughly 700,000 graduate level guest-workers. Roughly 4,000 of those guest-workers live in Arkansas and fill many high-status jobs in universities, hospitals, consulting firms, pharmacies, laboratories and tech companies that are sought by the children of influential middle-class Arkansas voters.