Andrew Puzder, President-elect Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, has a track record of advocating for the legalization of illegal immigrants that seems to be at odds with Trump’s own statements during the campaign. In 2013, Puzder appeared at an event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute in which he described creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as “the right thing to do.” From the Yahoo News:
The CEO didn’t just argue that immigration reform would boost the economy, but also that it was the moral choice. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s the country that we are, it’s the people that we are, and we need to foster that image across the world and in the United States.”…
What Puzder singled out for criticism was the emphasis on border security in the GOP-authored immigration reform bill at the time. The bill proposed doubling the number of Border Patrol agents at the time to 40,000. “As an American — not as a CEO, but as an American, it does bother me a little bit for a couple reasons,” he said. “One is, as a conservative and a Republican, we’re trying to keep the deficit down — this is another $40 billion in spending, which you hate to see. And secondly, I don’t know when it became a conservative Republican principle that increasing the size and intrusiveness of the government is a good thing.” He pointed add [sic] that the number of people attempting to cross the border illegally was down dramatically from its height in the 1990s.
Puzder also wrote a piece at Politico in 2013 in which he advocated for comprehensive immigration reform:
We should implement immigration reform not because of politics but because it’s the right thing to do. The current system is unfair and unworkable. It’s hurting legal immigrants who are unable to navigate it, undocumented workers who are lured to the country by the prospect of employment, then must live in the shadows — and honest business people who just want to operate their businesses consistent with the law.
Comprehensive immigration reform should resolve the status of the current undocumented population and fix the system of legal immigration to help prevent illegal activity in the future while providing the economy with a capable and motivated workforce. It should include: effective border enforcement; a robust legal immigration program, including incentives for highly educated people to come to the U.S. and a guest worker program; a pathway to adjusted status for those here illegally now; and special relief for the children of undocumented immigrants.
The emphasis on the moral argument for a path to “adjusted status” and “relief for the children of undocumented immigrants” sounds like the kind of thing we’ve been hearing from President Obama for the last several years. Back in 2012 the President spoke on immigration in the Rose Garden saying, “I will not give up on this issue, not only because it’s the right thing to do for our economy — and CEOs agree with me — not just because it’s the right thing to do for our security, but because it’s the right thing to do, period.”
Of course as Labor Secretary, Puzder would not be responsible for border policy. Still, National Review’s Mark Krikorian thinks he makes a terrible fit for the Trump administration:
Andrew “Gang of Eight” Puzder would have been a better fit for the Jeb Bush administration, though even Jeb might have blushed at the idea of appointing him. Assuming he’s actually nominated and confirmed, the Labor Department will go from being run by a post-American socialist to a post-American capitalist. So much for putting American workers first. #NeverPuzder.
It will be interesting to see if Puzder modifies or clarifies his past stance on immigration in the coming weeks to put it more in line with where Trump has been on the issue. Then again, there are some signs that Trump himself may be softening a bit in at least one area Puzder mentioned.