[EDITOR'S NOTE: Sen. Sessions' responds to this Anniston Star editorial.]
It takes a lot of nerve (or audacity) for Sen. Jeff Sessions to declare himself a champion of working Americans, considering how little past support he has given job-creating legislation.
Sessions, R-Mobile, opposes the Senate immigration reform bill, a bipartisan compromise that would beef up border security while not delaying legalization of the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here. Sessions said over the Labor Day holiday that this bill would reduce wages and increase unemployment for American workers.
To support this contention, he pointed to a recent study that showed a national workforce shrinking. “More people are retiring early, going on disability, turning to welfare, and giving up looking for work altogether,” he said. However, rather than helping Americans “get off of welfare, off of unemployment, and into good paying jobs,” Sessions claimed that the current administration, certain business interests and their allies in Congress want to “bring in more workers from overseas to do the jobs they say Americans aren’t cut out for.”
Then he closed with the ever-popular “our first loyalty must be to U.S. citizens.”
Although Sessions has called on the White House to produce facts to show how immigration reform would affect the economy, his opposition to reform is short on facts to support his case. Instead, there is the continual harping on how immigrants are taking American jobs, which plays well at Tea Party rallies, but is hard to prove, if it is true at all.
Thus far, there has been little attempt to explain how immigration reform, or the lack of it, would get the unemployed back into the workforce. The jobs currently open are either beyond the skills or educational level of the unemployed, or they are far from where the unemployed live.
Nor is there evidence to suggest that there would be a surge of low-skilled immigrants coming into the country if those immigrants here illegally were granted a form of amnesty.
When the economy was good, millions of immigrants came to this country for the jobs and the way of life. They took jobs in construction, where there were jobs aplenty. They took jobs in service industries and in a host of other fields where workers were needed.
No one seemed to mind.
But now Sen. Sessions appears to be suggesting that if we send home these workers who helped our economy grow, unemployed U.S. citizens will rush to take these jobs.
We have a question for Sessions: Look at states like Alabama and ask, how many jobs did our hostility to immigrants produce for U.S. citizens in the state?
Something needs to be done about unemployment and its economic and social consequences, but opposition to the immigration reform bill is not the answer.