Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is the only 2016 candidate from either party expressly committed to reducing legal immigration, on top of securing the border and dealing with illegal immigrants already in the country.
“It’s about time someone doesn’t just bow to corporate America on the Republican side, or just play the ethnic politics that the left now plays,” Santorum said Thursday on the Laura Ingraham Show.
Santorum proposes to slow the rate of legal immigration by reducing the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country every year from about one million to 750,000. He believes high levels of legal and illegal immigration in recent decades have suppressed the wages of American workers, hitting middle and lower income families particularly hard.
“Everyone can say they’re against amnesty, but what else are you for and what else are you against?” Santorum spokesman Matt Beynon told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “These are serious questions.”
Since 1970, the foreign-born population of the U.S. has more than tripled to 41 million, according to data compiled by the Congressional Research Service for the Senate Judiciary Committee. (RELATED: Wages Declined As Immigration Surged)
“What Santorum is proposing is simply to put American workers first,” Beynon told TheDCNF.
None of the announced or expected GOP candidates claim immigration hurts American workers, but most are of the mind that immigrants create jobs, and that more of the right kind of immigration is an unmitigated good for the American economy.
Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush all want to dramatically expand legal immigration, and allow big businesses even more access to what often amounts to cheaper foreign labor through work visa programs. (RELATED: As Floridians Are Displaced Rubio Demands More Foreign Workers)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has suggested he would reduce legal immigration in hard economic times, and vice versa, but he has stopped short of making a specific proposal to reform or reduce legal immigration.
“The statements we’ve seen from Gov. Walker recently are more in line with some of the things Sen. Santorum has been proposing for a long time,” Beynon said.
Santorum is also proposing to get rid of the so-called chain migration that happens because legal and sometimes illegal immigrants are allowed to bring their nuclear and non-nuclear relatives into the country with them.
He has denounced reported abuses of the H-1b visa program that lets corporations bring in high-skilled foreign workers on temporary work permits. But Santorum says the visa program displaces American workers with cheap foreign labor. (RELATED: Senators Ask Feds To Investigate Guest Worker Visa Abuse)
But he has not proposed any specific reforms to the program, and says he is for welcoming very high-skilled workers and also agriculture workers into the country.
“I have no problem [with], and in fact support, highly skilled workers coming into this country that are in fact economic multipliers — that can in fact create jobs,” he told Ingraham. “But that’s not what this H-1b program is increasingly being used for. It’s being used … to displace existing workers with cheaper foreign work.” (RELATED: Displaced Workers Sue DHS Over Work Permit Expansion)
“This is an opportunity for the Republican Party and for a leader to come forward and say, someone is going to be on the side of the American worker,” he added. “And that’s what I’m going to do.”
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