Trey Gowdy: House Can’t Just Defend the Status Quo on Immigration

by Will Allen

Representative Trey Gowdy defended efforts by the House GOP to pass an improved version of immigration reform. The South Carolina Republican, who has criticized the comprehensive immmigration bill passed by the Senate, argued that Republican opposition to immigration legislation amounts to a defense of the status quo that is neither responsible nor politically tenable for Republicans: “If I were in California in a swing district . . . I would at least want to say, ‘The party I represent has the following positions.’ And I don’t think that in every case, arguing that the current law is sufficient is the best position.” The House should pass legislation on the issue, but ”that doesn’t mean you go to conference” with the Senate, he explained. (Conservatives have argued in recent weeks that taking House and Senate bills to conference would produce something much more similar to the Gang of Eight bill than whatever the House passes.)

Gowdy, who represents South Carolina’s manufacturing-heavy fourth district (including Greenville and Spartanburg), emphasized that labor shortages persist in several low-skilled sectors of the American economy, notwithstanding overall high rates of unemployment. “I will go on another plant tour this afternoon,” he told Laura Ingraham on her radio show. “I wish you would go on plant tours with me  . . . and ask the question, ‘Do you have any openings?’ And 99 percent of the time, the answer is yes.” He said that in many cases due to visa restrictions, for farm labor, “It is actually costlier to hire an immigrant. And yet the farm worker is almost invariably an immigrant. You can’t pay an American to pick blueberries.”

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