Andy Puzder, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of Labor, praised immigration reform in the past and criticized border security as a waste of money, which is drawing criticism from some Trump supporters.
During a Q&A in 2013 at the American Enterprise Institute, Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, said immigration reform would be good for business, Yahoo News reported.
“If we had immigration reform and were able to hire these people who really want to work, we’d have a more diverse, incentivized and productive workforce,” Puzder said then.
At the time, the Senate was debating passing comprehensive immigration reform that included a path to citizenship that was proposed by the bipartisan so-called Gang of Eight.
Puzder has also given generously to candidates who support comprehensive immigration reform, including the campaigns of original Gang of Eight members Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., along with Jeb Bush, according to Federal Election Commission documents.
While Trump has campaigned on deporting immigrants in the country illegally and building a “big, beautiful, powerful” wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Puzder thought too much was being spent on security.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Puzder’s selection is getting criticism from the nationalist right.
Breitbart, which was run by Trump’s incoming chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, posted a story with a headline that reads that he “Prefers Foreign Labor to American Workers.”
Breitbart pointed out Puzder’s assertion in the 2013 conference that immigrants appreciate that they have a job compared to other people in the country, though he called that a “gross generalization” and said people from all backgrounds and races were happy to have a job.
Breitbart also cited op-ed pieces Puzder had written saying the country’s immigration policy is unfair to those who have to live in the shadows, and that every candidate should support a path to citizenship.