There is an underlying divide among congressional Republicans on the issue of legal immigration, according to a report by The Hill.
The two sides could not be more diametrically opposed. On one side are those who want the GOP to cut back on legal immigration to tighten the labor market; on the other are those who see legal immigration as a way to support the economy and pay for entitlements for an aging population.
Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., are proposing The Raise Act to cut green cards nearly in half, from 1.05 million annually (2015's level) to 539,000, according to The Hill. The R.A.I.S.E. (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) act would allow for fewer legal immigrants in the U.S. work force, leaving more jobs and higher wages for Americans.
That "hire American" view has opposition even within the Republican party for economic reasons, led by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., two oft-vocal critics of President Donald Trump.
"I oppose the idea of cutting green cards," Graham told The Hill.
Graham believes a wave of retiring Baby Boomers will need to be supported by a larger workforce on Social Security and Medicare entitlements.
"When you look at the 20-year demographics we're facing, we'll have an aging population and a declining workforce," Graham added.
Sen. McCain also opposes The Raise Act, as Silicon Valley tech companies would argue, because it would "stifle innovation," according to the report.
"I just don't agree with it," McCain told The Hill. "I think we need more Sergey Brins [the Soviet-born Google co-founder] and people like that who were born outside of this country, came here, received an education and made enormous progress for all of mankind."
The Cotton-Perdue green card proposal, though, prioritizes skilled workers in applying for green cards as it trims back on the total permitted annually, per the report.
"As far as the numbers and all that, I don't know there's a magic number," Sen. Marco Rubio told The Hill. "I know the number of immigrants to the United States over the last 30 years is historically high. I'm open about people who think the numbers should be different."
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