Sen. Tom Cotton said his colleague Lindsey Graham is “opinionated but uninformed” on immigration reform during a Thursday interview on MSNBC.
“Immigration is often an emotional topic and some Republicans in Congress are opinionated but uninformed about our legislation,” Cotton said.
Cotton is pushing a bill that would institute a merit based immigration system, prioritize English as an official language, and discourage family reunification. The bill slashes the number of yearly immigrants from 1 million to 500,000.
“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said cutting immigration in half is a non-starter, especially for Graham, who believes industries like meat packing and agriculture don’t have native-born Americans in them, making it harder to replace immigrant workers if the bill was passed. Scarborough played a clip of Graham’s comments on the bill:
“There are certain areas like meat packing and tourism and agriculture that you just can’t find American-born labor to do these jobs,” Graham said in a clip played by the hosts. “And these legal visas keep these companies from going out of business or moving overseas.” He called the bill “ill advised” and said he would not be supporting it.
“For Lindsey’s comments again, opinionated but uninformed,” Cotton said, regarding the clip.
“It’s simply false to say that Americans won’t do the jobs that he’s talking about,” he added. “There is not a single industry in this country, not a single industry, in which native born Americans do not hold a majority of all jobs.”
“Our legislation doesn’t touch upon guest workers and visas,” Cotton said. “That’s what he’s [Graham’s] talking about.”
Cotton said he believes Americans with a high school education have seen their wages fall as a result of unskilled immigrants driving down overall income.
“Americans will do these jobs if they’re paid a decent wage,” he concluded.
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