- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday that the Trump-supported Senate proposal cutting the number of legal immigration visas would be bad for the economy.

“The overall number cut — I think this could cut to about half of the current legal immigrants — just isn’t the right direction for the economy,” Mr. Flake, Arizona Republican, said on CNN.

The RAISE Act — sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, and supported by President Trump — would create a merit-based immigration system and give priority to applicants with skills or those who already speak English. The number of applications would also drop from over 1 million to about 500,000 in an effort to give more job opportunities to American workers.

Mr. Flake said that not only was the number a drastic cut, but that migrant labor is necessary for the economy, something that he has experienced personally growing up in Arizona. Mr. Flake said there needs to be a better balance between allowing legal immigrants into the country while also securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We know very well in Arizona the value of migrant labor,” he said. “I grew up working next to migrant labor, and I’ve always felt that they were making migrant labor better, and we’re better off because of their hard work.”

“So I’ve been very supportive of immigration reform that, first secures border and we have interior enforcement, but that we have a humane and generous mechanism for those who have crossed the border illegally simply to support their family, and haven’t committed illegal acts other than crossing border,” Mr. Flake said.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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