Navy should recruit Americans to address labor shortages in shipyards

Tom Cotton, United States Senator

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter on April27 to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro disputing the secretary’s claim that American shipyards need more migrant labor. The Honorable Carlos Del Toro Secretary Department of the Navy1000 Navy Pentagon Washington, DC 20350-1000

Dear Secretary Del Toro,

I write regarding your comments last week to the Senate Armed Services Committee in favor of expanding legal immigration. This adds to remarks you made in a re-cent presentation at the National Defense Industrial Association Expeditionary Warfare conference, in which you claimed that the United States lacks sufficient blue-collar workers and should admit more migrant laborers. Your assessment of the U.S. labor force and immigration system is incorrect. Over 5.8 million Americans are unemployed, nearly seven million prime working-age men are out-side of the labor force, and nearly27 million Americans are relying on part-time work. There are clearly enough Americans to work in our nation’s shipyards—which employ barely 100,000 workers.

The current level of legal immigration is also more than sufficient. The United States admits over a million permanent residents each year—enough to replace every active-duty service member in the Navy almost three times over. Our country is also home to almost one-fifth of the world’s migrants and more than three times as many migrants as any other nation. Rather than seek to import more foreign workers, the Navy ought to redouble efforts to recruit Americans to address the labor shortages in our shipyards. I look forward to working with you to increase awareness of employment opportunities in our shipyards and improve incentives for Americans to take these essential jobs.

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