Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney surprisingly announced to an audience in England that the U.S. is “desperate” for immigrants to fuel the nation’s economic growth, The Washington Post reported.
“We are desperate — desperate — for more people,” Mulvaney told an audience of several hundred Wednesday at the Oxford Union, according to a recording obtained by the Post.
“We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.” He emphasized that they must enter the country in a “legal fashion.”
Representatives of several industries, especially agriculture, have complained that it’s difficult to find people to fill available jobs, stalling growth. But those complaints, and Mulvaney’s remarks, directly contradict President Donald Trump, who insisted last year during a visit to the southern border: “Our country is full. Can’t take you anymore . . . so turn around.”
The Trump administration has been working to slash both legal and illegal immigration. Immigrant visas — for people following a legal process to enter the U.S. — have been cut more than 25% since 2016, according to State Department figures.
Mulvaney, however, insisted that, despite Trump’s “anti-immigrant” reputation, he actually wants more foreign workers.
Farms, in particular, have faced struggles finding American workers to fill manual labor jobs amid the crackdown on immigrants.
Trump promised to resounding applause last year at the annual farm convention in New Orleans that he would “make it easier” for immigrant farmworkers to come into the country. “You need these people,” he said.
Farmers are still struggling to find labor — and to weather Trump’s devastating trade wars. Farm bankruptcies jumped 24% last year. Nearly 40% of U.S. farm income this year will be provided by government insurance and taxpayer subsidies.
Though Trump repeatedly characterizes immigrants as a drain on the U.S.economy, that’s not supported by data analyzed by several organizations. Foreign-born workers contribute roughly $2 trillion to the economy annually, according to a 2017 study in the journal The National Academies of Science.
In the same speech, Mulvaney criticized Republicans for letting Trump ratchet up the federal debt.
“My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House,” he said, the Post reported. “The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the president. Then Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party,” Mulvaney complained.
The last time Mulvaney contradicted the White House line was when he indicated in October that there was a quid pro quo when Trump withheld military funds to Ukraine as he pressed the nation to launch an investigation into unfounded accusations against his political rival Joe Biden. “We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney told reporters. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy. Get over it.”