Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake called for the United States to let in immigrants who work hard, but don’t have any particular skills, in an effort to hit President Donald Trump on his immigration agenda, according to his New York Times’ op-ed Friday.
Flake told the story of Manuel Chaidez, an illegal immigrant with no discernible skills his parents hired, to drive his point home that America should bring people willing to work hard.
“In terms of material possessions, Manuel was an invisible man. His capacity for hard, backbreaking work was his sole credential in life. By no Washington bureaucrat’s estimation would he have been judged a ‘high value immigrant,’” Flake wrote. “He didn’t speak much English. He didn’t come from money. He hadn’t finished high school.”
Manuel was willing to work hard and with his hands Flake argued, which is a crucial skill to America and its ability to thrive.
“All Manuel had to recommend him was his strength and his belief that America was a place where, by the labor of your hands, you could create a life for yourself. That is all, and that is everything,” Flake wrote. “…Without such work there is no ranch. Without ranches, my town and towns like it would falter. And so in my estimation, Manuel is just about the highest-value immigrant possible, and if we forget that, then we forget something elemental about America.”
Flake went on to explain that while there should be a “point system” in how immigrants are allowed entry to the U.S., the country needs to make room for immigrants with no special skills but a willingness to work hard.
“When re-evaluating immigration policy, it is right to give priority, through a point system or otherwise, to those who have skills and abilities unique to the new economy. We did this in 2013, in the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate,” he continued. “But there must always be a place in America for those whose only initial credentials are a strong back and an eagerness to use it.”
Flake has been a vocal Trump opponent, calling the President’s travel ban “morally repugnant.” Trump has thrown his support behind Flake’s opponent in the race for the Arizona senate seat, slamming Flake for being “weak on borders.”