GOP Rep. Steve Stivers makes the case for legal immigration, even as President Trump tries to reduce it

GOP Rep. Steve Stivers on the US immigration split

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, has the toughest job in politics right now: trying to stop a Democratic "blue wave" at the polls this fall. Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, sat down to talk to CNBC's John Harwood about the campaign and other factors. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Rep. Steve Stivers: The American people have been so long without a raise, since 2008. But it's on the way. And you can see it already in the labor shortages that are out there.

CNBC's John Harwood: You're right, we do have a labor shortage. Doesn't that make it a bad idea to cut legal immigration, which the president and some in the Congress want to do?

Stivers: Well, I don't want to cut legal immigration. In fact, I don't think the president wants to cut legal immigration. He's suggested replacing the lottery with a merit-based system that would bring us people that we need in the high-tech fields.

Harwood: He wants to cut legal immigration in half.

Stivers: I think we should bring in people in the high-tech fields. I actually also believe that when you graduate from one of the schools in my district — I have Ohio University down in Athens, the Ohio State University — all these foreign students that come here on a student visa, I think we should staple a work visa to their diploma. We've educated them here, and then we force them to go home and compete against us, which is a silly economic policy.

Harwood: So you don't agree with the president on cutting legal immigration?

Stivers: I believe we should help people, that want to come here that have skills, help us grow our economy. I'm for that.