Yes, the sparring between CNN’s Jim Acosta and senior Trump aide Stephen Miller was insanely entertaining. Probably the most excitement since the cameras were turned back on in the press briefing room. At the same time, it also gives the administration a reason to turn them off again since Acosta was totally asking a line of questioning that was nothing but liberal talking points. It was explosive, but prior to that exchange, there was Miller’s whipping of The New York Times over facts and figures about the impact of low-skilled labor has on the economy.
Times reporter Glenn Thrush was pressing on the validity of the correlation between the influx of low-skill labor and job loss among American workers. Miller cited four organizations and persons who have been analyzing the data to make his point for why the Trump administration is pursuing a policy that stresses a language requirement and high-skills for green cards. It’s similar to what Canada does concerning the latter. Thrush was adamant that Miller give a specific statistic, which prompted Miller to say, “maybe we'll make a carve-out in the bill that says The New York Times can hire all the low-skilled, less-paid workers they want from other countries, and see how you feel then about low-wage substitution.” Below is the full transcript of the exchange [emphasis mine]:
GLENN THRUSH, NYT: Two quick questions. First of all, let's have some statistics. There have been a lot of studies out there that don't show a correlation between low-skilled immigration and the loss of jobs for native workers.Cite for me, if you could, one or two studies with specific numbers that prove the correlation between those two things -- because your entire policy is based on that.
And secondly, I have sources that told me, about a month ago, that you guys have sort of elbowed infrastructure out of the way to get immigration on the legislative queue. Tell me why this is more important than infrastructure.
STEPHEN MILLER: Look, the latter statement isn't true.
I think the most recent study I would point to is the study from George Borjas that he just did about the Mariel boatlift. And he went back and reexamined and opened up the old data, and talked about how it actually did reduce wages for workers who were living there at the time.
And Borjas has, of course, done enormous amounts of research on this, as has Peter Kirsanow on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, as has Steve Camarota at the Center for Immigration Studies, and so on and so --
THRUSH: How about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine?
MILLER: Right.And their recent study said that as much as $300 billion a year may be lost as a result of our current immigration system in terms of folks drawing more public benefits than they're paying in.
But let's also use common sense here, folks. At the end of the day, why do special interests want to bring in more low-skilled workers? And why historically --
THRUSH: Stephen, I'm not asking for common sense. I'm asking for specific statistical data.
MILLER: Well, I think it's very clear, Glenn, that you're not asking for common sense, but if I could just answer your question.
THRUSH: No, no, not common sense. Common sense is fungible. Statistics are not.
MILLER: I named the studies, Glenn.
THRUSH: Let me just finish the question. Tell me the specific --
MILLER: Glenn, Glenn, Glenn -- I named the studies. I named the studies.
THRUSH: I asked you for a statistic. Can you tell me how many --
MR. MILLER: Glenn, maybe we'll make a carve-out in the bill that says the New York Times can hire all the low-skilled, less-paid workers they want from other countries, and see how you feel then about low-wage substitution.This is a reality that's happening in our country.
MILLER: Maybe it's time we had compassion, Glenn, for American workers. President Trump has met with American workers who have been replaced by foreign workers.
THRUSH: Oh, I understand. I'm not questioning any of that. I’m asking for --
MILLER: And ask them -- ask them how this has affected their lives.
THRUSH: I'm not asking them. I'm asking you for a number.
MILLER: Look at -- I just told you.
THRUSH: Give me the number of low-skilled jobs that Americans might otherwise have --
MILLER: If you look at -- first of all, if you look at the premise, Glenn, of bringing in low-skilled labor, it's based on the idea that there's a labor shortage for lower-skilled jobs. There isn't.The number of people living in the United States in the working ages who aren't working today is at a record high.
One in four Americans -- or almost one in four Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 aren't even employed. For African American workers, their labor force participation rate who don't have a high school diploma -- I guess, African American males without a high school diploma has plummeted some 40 percentage points since the mass wave of unskilled migration began.
The reality is that, if you just use common sense -- and, yes, I will use common sense -- the reason why some companies want to bring in more unskilled labor is because they know that it drives down wages and reduces labor costs.
Our question as a government is, to whom is our duty? Our duty is to U.S. citizens and U.S. workers to promote rising wages for them. If low-skilled immigration was an unalloyed good for the economy, then why have we been growing at 1.5 percent for the last 17 years at a time of unprecedented new low-wage arrivals? The facts speak for themselves. At some point, we're accountable to reality.