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  by  Roy Beck

It was much more than lip service. The extended immigration comments by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) at a recent Iowa presidential audition indicated a deep understanding of what decades of spiked immigration numbers have done to struggling workers and their families.

. . . we also have to face the reality that what's hurting American workers -- maybe more than anything else if you're an unskilled worker in America -- is a huge amount of immigration that's going on in this country.

And I'm not just talking about illegal immigration. Yes, we've seen 12, 15 million illegal immigrants here who are competing in primarily unskilled jobs. But in the last 14 years since 2000, there've been more people who have come to this country legally than any 14-year period in American history, and that includes the Great Wave."

Santorum's decision to go beyond the usual applause lines on illegal immigration and insisting on the need to reduce LEGAL numbers in the critical presidential sweepstakes state of Iowa is yet another indication that the pro-wage-earner immigration arguments championed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) continue to move toward dominance in the Republican Party.

View the full YouTube clip of Santorum's comments by clicking on this:

If you want to add a comment on YouTube to support the immigration-reduction message, click here.

Until recently, the muddled message from national Republican leaders has been mostly about the need to satisfy the desires of corporations for HIGHER legal immigration.

Santorum not only changed the message but set himself as opposed to those corporations:

. . . unfortunately on our side, the Republican side, we have the business community who sees labor as a commodity. Ladies and gentleman, I don't see people as a commodity. I see people as individuals and valuable people whose wages should not be depressed to keep profits high by having people come into this country to keep wages down. "

The Dallas Morning News noted that Santorum was one of several politicians considering a 2016 presidential run who "auditioned for the party faithful last weekend at an influential gathering of Christian conservatives." The others were Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Gov. Rick Perry (Texas), Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.) and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.).

Immigration was listed first among what the Morning News called the "recurrent themes" of the Annual Family Leadership Summit co-sponsored by Family Leader and Family Research Council Action. More than a thousand paid to attend the speeches at Iowa State University in Ames.

Santorum praised the idea of a "respite" from high immigration levels as the nation has had several times in the past:

And you know historically in America what we've done every time we've had huge waves of immigration? They've been waves, and what happens to waves? They come in, and then they go out; they provide a respite, they provide a respite for a lot of reasons -- for labor markets to adjust.

One of the reasons we see labor markets in such distress and wages not going anywhere is because there's a flood of labor coming in.

So we need a policy that puts Americans first, an American immigration policy that says no to amnesty, that says yes to securing the border, and that says that we need to dial back on chain immigration to this country which has resulted in over a million people a year coming here to suppress our labor markets."

One of the most impressive parts of this speech was Santorum's making the typical appeal that politicians make to their immigrant family history. But he made a very different conclusion than most make:

I'm the son of an immigrant and I'll give you the experience of my father. He was one of the guys caught in the wave. My grandfather came at the end of the Great Wave in 1923. In 1921 and 1924 they passed two immigration laws that shut down immigration. After 1924, immigration was about a 100,000 a year, it's now over a million a year in America today. It was a hundred-thousand and so my father was in Italy and my grandfather was in America for seven years it took for him to wait so he could see his dad.

You can say, "we shouldn't do that to people." Well, my dad would always say, "America was worth the wait." It's worth doing it the right way because it was right for America to take a pause and to make sure that Americans were looked after first so that when he came he had the opportunities that the American Dream will give to all of your children."

Santorum has set a benchmark for all other candidates.

If they only talk about border security or stopping illegal immigration, you can be reasonably sure that they aren't dedicated to an immigration policy that first serves the interests of the American people. They may not be as bad as the corporate lobbyists, but you can't count on them on the big immigration issues unless they show as Santorum did last month in Iowa that they understand that adding a million immigrants with lifetime work permits EVERY YEAR poses real challenges for millions of Americans.

The Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway made a presentation at the Heritage Foundation last month in which she revealed recent extensive polling that indicates a message like Santorum's and Sessions' can be a big political winner for either Party. But at present, almost nobody in the Democratic Party is choosing to use it. A growing number of Republicans are. If this continues, they are likely to score enough political gains to cause some Democrats to abandon their national Party's insistence on uncontrolled immigration. At that point, the public interest rather than special interests might finally begin to prevail.

In the meantime, Santorum seemed to be issuing a challenge to other Republicans when he said:

This, ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not, is a message that Republicans can stand up and proudly talk about. It's a conservative message, but it's a unifying message."

ROY BECK is President & Founder of NumbersUSA

Tags:  
Legal Immigration
Chain Migration

Updated: Wed, Oct 15th 2014 @ 8:08am EDT

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