Matt Bevin, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger, told a group of Kentucky voters that American workers are less productive than immigrants.
“For those who think that all these fifteen to twenty million [illegal immigrant] people are here just to take advantage of us and ride the system, you’re wrong,” he said at a diner in Jessamine, Kentucky, in March.
“Most of them are not… but I’ll tell you what, there are more people like that even proportionally that were born here in this country,” he added. “That’s a fact… Healthy immigration is what has made this nation great. It is what will keep us strong, it is what will make us great in the future.”
McConnell’s election team slammed Bevin’s comments.
“Bevin says that illegal immigrants are better workers than law-abiding Americans, who he implies are lazy,” said a statement from campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. “Bevin thinks hardworking citizens are the problem, and slandered every single Kentuckian in the the Commonwealth. He should be ashamed of himself.”
Bevin’s spokeswoman, Rachel Semmel, declined to comment on the statement, stayed on the attack, and said McConnell didn’t try to block the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration deal last June.
“Mitch McConnell… has voted for amnesty three times, co-sponsored an additional amnesty bill with Democrats, and went into hiding during the Gang of 8 amnesty debacle,” she said.
McConnell’s team said the speech shows Bevin supports an amnesty for illegals.
“Sen. McConnell voted against the [Senate] immigration bill that Bailout Bevin once blasted as amnesty, and yet now he appears to support” that bill, said Moore. “This flip-flop is yet another example of Bevin’s shocking hypocrisy.”
Both candidates downplayed their support for some legal changes that would make it easier for American companies to hire foreign professionals for work in the U.S. The foreign hires are sought by businesses and lobbyists who say they’re facing a shortage of top-ranked American experts. But numerous studies say there is no shortage.
“Sen. McConnell supports merit-based immigration that would make it easier for high skilled professionals who earn their degrees here to come here, rather than the quota system we have today,” said a statement from Moore.
“The growth of our economy relies on American businesses being able to legally employ the world’s best and brightest,” Bevin’s spokeswoman said. “Legal immigration has always been a means to ensure that this is possible and that our nation remains economically strong. As a small business owner and job creator, Matt understands the need to streamline and simplify the work visa process for high-skilled workers.”