President Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller had a tense exchange with reporters at Wednesday's press briefing as he defended the administration's new proposal to dramatically curtail legal immigration. The plan prioritizes highly skilled workers over family members for green cards.
The administration reasons that too many low-skilled immigrant workers are entering the country, costing Americans jobs and wages.
Miller said the U.S. has, in recent years, issued green cards without regard to whether an immigrant can "pay their own way or be reliant on welfare, or whether they'll displace or take a job from an American worker."
Calling a green card the "golden ticket" of immigration, Miller said Trump's proposal "puts the needs of the working class ahead of the investor class."
"We're protecting blue-collar workers," he said.
"We've seen significant reductions in wages for blue-collar workers, massive displacement of African-American and Hispanic workers, as well as the displacement of immigrant workers from previous years who oftentimes compete directly against new arrivals who are being paid even less," Stephen Miller said.
Miller went on to say the "numbers of low-skilled [immigrant] workers in particular is a major detriment to U.S. workers."
Have immigrants taken jobs from and lowered wages for American blue-collar workers?
The short answer:
Economists disagree whether or how much an influx of immigrants depresses wages. Some have found that new immigrants depress wages for certain groups, such as teenagers or workers with a high school diploma or less. Others say the overall effect on the economy is tiny, and an influx of immigrant workers vitalizes the economy overall.