Senator Marco Rubio has rushed to distance himself from comments made by one of his aides that appear in a recent article on immigration by The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza. Lizza quotes an unnamed Rubio aide as saying: “There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are a lot of people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.”
Rubio, one of the authors of the Senate immigration bill, told The Daily Caller on Monday that he disagreed with the statement. “My belief is that the American worker is the most productive worker in the world,” he said. “The purpose of a guest worker program is not to replace Americans, but rather to provide workers in industries where there is a shortage of domestic workers. … The push to modernize our legal immigration system has been driven by the reality that U.S. businesses need better options to fill labor shortages when not enough Americans apply for jobs …”
According to Rubio, the 700,000 guest workers and 1 million permanent immigrant workers who received work permits in 2012 were not enough to fill that “shortage.” Under his bill, more than 2 million guest workers would be admitted in the first year after enactment, with an average of more than 1 million per year afterwards. Rubio’s legislation would expand guest worker programs even beyond what the failed 2007 McCain/Kennedy legislation proposed back before the recession plunged millions of Americans into joblessness.
And that’s just the guest worker programs.
The Senate immigration bill, S. 744, would grant lifetime work permits to more than 30 million legal and illegal immigrants over the next 10 years. There is no substantive disagreement on this point. NumbersUSA estimates S. 744 would give permanent work permits (green cards) to approximately 33 million immigrants via immigration over the next decade. Senator Jeff Sessions’ office estimates the number to be 30 million. The Center for American Progress, which supports S. 744, estimates 17 million new permanent workers (if you exclude the 11 million legalized aliens and 4.5 million aliens rushed through the backlog), or 32.5 million (if you include the legalized aliens and the backlog). To no one’s surprise, Rubio and the other members of the Senate’s Gang of Eight have declined to offer their own estimates.
Only 10 percent of Americans support immigration increases beyond the current record average of 1 million immigrants per year, according to a Pulse Opinion Research survey conducted in May. But the Gang of Eight had to allow a massive expansion in immigration in order to win support from industry lobbyists. Without large increases in accessible foreign labor, big business wouldn’t support the legislation.
But even with big business on board, Rubio and the rest of the Gang of Eight have to sell these massive expansions to American voters. Which brings us back to Rubio and his aide. The latter claims there are too many American workers who aren’t good enough for American jobs — a sentiment that most people find offensive. Rubio claims that Americans are good enough but not numerous enough. Frankly, what’s the difference? As this chart shows, there is no labor shortage. There are more Americans looking for work in every occupation than there are jobs available.
Rubio and his allies want to flood America with tens of millions of other nations’ job seekers. Whether their desire stems from a belief that American workers aren’t good enough or a belief that there aren’t enough good American workers is beside the point. With 20 million Americans unable to find full-time employment, Rubio’s legislation is of greater concern than his motives.
Roy Beck is the president of NumbersUSA.