While illegal immigration dominates the political discussion in America, there is also another aspect of immigration policy: legal immigration.
Recent statistics show the United States allows just over a million legal immigrants in the country annually. Given the obstacles to wage growth in the United States, some have suggested rethinking legal immigration to slow the growth of the labor supply and raise demand, which could result in higher wages.
Throughout the early going of his campaign, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a candidate for U.S. Senate, has emphasized his hawkish stance on illegal immigrants. During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday, he reiterated that position.
“Right now, we have a huge influx coming from Africa, the Middle East,” Tuberville said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “It has kind of slowed down in terms of the people coming from South America. But it doesn’t make any difference. We can’t afford – they’re coming across, and I know they need help. But people in this country need help, too. And we’ve got to get the wall built. We’ve got to know who is here. Then we’ve got to let them come a little at a time because we do need workers and we need people here to make this country better. We just can’t handle all of them at one time.”
When asked, Tuberville acknowledged immigration has an impact on wage growth.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” he replied. “The problem is we’re getting to a point where we don’t need just workers. We need smarter workers – people that can come here that have skills.”
The former football coach boasted about the efforts of the local governments around Alabama to improve their workforces. He said for some it would be a better path to a successful career than attending a four-year college, which may result in college loan debt.
However, he also said policymakers should back off the amount of legal immigration allowed in the country and focus on limiting illegal immigration.
“I think we should back off of it right now,” Tuberville said. “I think that we got to get a handle on who is coming here, where they’re at – I mean, we can control and actually take care of. The problem is, we have people all over this country that we can take care of – they’re elderly or handicap or vets, people that really need help. And we’re broke. This country is absolutely broke, but we’re spending billions of dollars on people coming here. Again, we don’t know really who they are. They’re bringing all kinds of diseases with them that we don’t understand. They’re not educated. We want to help them, but we also want to be able to help the people that have paid taxes in the past have helped this country, but we need immigrants here.”
“You know, we’re all immigrants but we’ve just got to get a handle on it and I would like to see us slow it all down – bring it to a point where we can control it, get all this stuff under control, get our education system under control because I’ve talked to people in this state, superintendents that have said, ‘Hey listen: They are dropping off these young kids here that are here illegally, and they want us to educate them, and they can’t read or write. They can’t speak English. They’ve never been to school. What are we supposed to do? We’re supposed to educate our people, and we’re downgrading our ability to educate the people that have paid their way here. But now all of a sudden, we’re told you’ve got to address this problem and help these kids.’ They do need help, and I feel sorry for them, but we can’t bring our country to a point where we’re hurting ourselves,” he added.