Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Wednesday gave Democrats a lesson in basic economics, by pointing out that the immigration bill they support would bring in more workers and lead to lower U.S. wages — instead of boosting wages as Democrats have insisted.
Sessions was responding to floor speeches from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who again called on House Republicans to pass the Senate’s immigration bill.
Reid, Schumer and others have argued that studies show increased immigration would help the economy, and point to support for the Senate bill by major business groups. But Sessions said supporters of the Senate bill are ignoring how it would affect low-skilled workers.
Sessions said labor is like any other commodity in that its price will fall as supply increases. And he said that’s just what the Senate immigration bill would do.
“If you bring in more labor, you’ll have lower wages for American workers,” Sessions said on the Senate floor. “There is no disputing that, yet we have Senators who repeatedly speak on the floor and say this is going to increase wages.
“Give me a break,” he added. “You can’t just say something and think that’s going to make it a reality. It’s the opposite of reality.”
Sessions added that the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the Senate immigration bill backs up his claim that the bill would hurt workers.
That report said average wages would fall slightly under the bill over the next 10 years. And while wages would be expected to rise after that, starting in 2025, the report says this increase would not affect everyone — instead, it says lower and higher-skilled workers would see a slight wage drop.
“So Mr. Reid and Mr. Schumer, I’m glad to talk about this issue,” he said. “I’m glad to talk about immigration. But we’re going to talk about what’s in the interest of the American people.
“We’re not going to talk about your politics and your ideology and your special interest,” he added. “We’re going to talk about what’s good for America.”
Sessions said Democrats were ignoring these facts and are trying to turn the immigration debate into a discussion about who is helped politically by the bill. In doing so, Sessions said, Democrats have lost sight of who they should be serving.
“There was one group of people omitted from the remarks of Leader Reid and Senator Schumer: American workers,” he said. “[I]t seems Mr. Schumer’s party has been hijacked by special interests and they’ve lost sight of who they claim to represent — working Americans.”