GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said the U.S. should pursue a merit-based immigration policy during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, adding he believes it will help stimulate the economy.
The comments come after Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced the ‘The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, aimed at dramatically scale back legal immigration.
Johnson has said in the past farmers in his state rely on immigrant workers, but he hopes the introduction of the RAISE Act and the reintroduction of the DREAM Act will lead to productive discussions on comprehensive immigration reform.
“Well, what I’m hoping is the bill that senators Perdue and Cotton introduced possibly combined with my own guest worker visa program managed by the states, combined with what Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin are doing will start a serious discussion in terms of what we need to do in terms of fixing our incredibly broken legal immigration system,” he told host Jake Tapper.
According to Johnson, the country hasn’t put enough emphasis on assuring the immigrants being granted green cards provide skills the country needs.
“But, you know, Jake, if you take a look at the facts on average we’ve been admitting about a million people with legal residencies,” he continued. “In 2015, where we had the best data 65 percent of those were based on family relationships, 21 percent were diversity, refugees, asylees and others. Only 14 percent had anything to do with work.”
Johnson argued there are millions seeking opportunity in the U.S., and the country needs to put an emphasis on those who can help America.
“Now there literally hundred millions of people that want to come into America to seek the opportunity that only America really offers. We should be selective,” he said. “We should target those individuals that can come here on a merit-based system and add to our economy.”
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