Mulvaney talks immigration, jobs in Fort Mill

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 2, 2013 

— U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney told residents Wednesday night there’s still a great deal of work ahead for lawmakers, but progressively more reason to believe much of it can be accomplished.

About 60 people attended a town hall-style meeting at Baxter’s Village Hall. Topics included gun control, federal spending, immigration and job creation. Much of the discussion centered on immigration reform and its impact on both social services and job growth.

Mulvaney expects a congressional agreement on immigration reform this year, saying lawmakers are now discussing important issues rather than sparring with talking points.

Expanding legal immigration is a major goal, along with addressing border security and existing illegal immigrants, he said, and South Carolina – with its considerable agriculture – stands to gain if more legal immigrants have a clearer path to employment.

Immigration also can affect industries like health care and power generation, he said, with skilled laborers coming from outside national borders.

“There’s a need for legal immigration, and we should grow that,” Mulvaney said.

Jobs were another hot topic. Mulvaney said the perceived demise of blue collar jobs isn’t what many people think, pointing to a printing business in Rock Hill and major in-state companies producing batteries, undershirts and bumpers, among other items.

“It’s not that it’s doing well,” he said, “but it’s better than people think it is.”

Mulvaney talked about one company in his district that’s growing but isn’t hiring. Owners there told him they have about one-tenth of the employees they had 10 years ago to do the same amount of work. The main reason companies are sitting on cash rather than investing it, Mulvaney said, is a concern over health care costs.

“You may not like that answer, but that’s the answer I’m getting,” he said.

Rock Hill resident Roger Miller pointed out that the same issues discussed Wednesday – health care, government spending, job creation – were front and center when voters elected Mulvaney in 2010 and again in 2012.

“Three or four years later, they’re still the problems,” Miller said.

He suggested that Mulvaney and other lawmakers look at smaller issues they could tackle more quickly, like closing out unused bank accounts.

Mulvaney said he has spent recent weeks with a bipartisan group forming what he hopes will be weekly ideas for such legislation.

“We may call it the Baxter town hall meeting bill,” Mulvaney said.

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