Republican J.D. Vance, running against Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) for Ohio’s open United States Senate seat, says a merit-based legal immigration policy and  combatting the opioid crisis would dramatically strengthen the nation’s workforce.

During a Fox News town hall event, Vance endorsed Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) “RAISE Act” legislation that was first introduced in 2017.

“I’ve come out in favor of Tom Cotton’s the RAISE Act,” Vance said.

The RAISE Act, as Cotton has described to Breitbart News, would boost wages by eliminating the process known as “chain migration” whereby newly naturalized citizens can bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the U.S.

Roughly 7-in-10 legal immigrants arriving in the U.S. every year do so only because they have relatives already living in American communities.

In addition to ending chain migration, the RAISE Act would impose skills requirements, such as speaking English, for those seeking to legally immigrate to the U.S. and cut the annual inflow of legal immigration from its current roughly 1.2 million green card admissions down to 500,000 admissions.

Vance said the U.S. needs an immigration policy that enriches Americans’ wages and job prospects rather than enriching the world’s migrants at Americans’ expense. Vance said:

What our immigration policy does right now is it asks the question ‘Who do you know?’ and if you know somebody, then that’s how you get into the United States legally. I think the immigration policy of the United States should be about what skills and what attributes do you bring to the table that’s going to enrich the entire American nation.

That’s what the RAISE Act would do, that’s what most other first-world economies actually do. You let people into your country based on merit, not who they know, it’s based on merit. And I think that’s where we need to take the immigration policy in this country.

Put briefly, Vance suggests, national policy should be less about the volume of legal immigrants arriving each year and more about the quality of immigrants.

Similarly, Vance said the nation’s opioid crisis, killing over 100,000 Americans annually, is leading to an increasing number of Americans falling out of the workforce. That issue, Vance said, ought to be part of a broader labor policy.

“We know that the fentanyl … when the fentanyl is coming into our country at such an extraordinary degree brought in by the Mexican drug cartels, that’s actually one of the reasons why we have the labor shortage,” Vance said, adding:

Of course, we think about it most of all because it kills our citizens, we think about it most of all because it orphans our children, that’s obviously very important. It also creates labor shortages because this fentanyl takes people out of the workforce, makes them unable to work in good jobs.

Vance’s endorsement of the RAISE Act is significant as a number of House and Senate Republicans have suggested increasing legal immigration levels rather than siding with their base of supporters who overwhelmingly support reducing immigration overall.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that a majority, 55 percent, of Republican voters want to see legal immigration levels cut down to fewer than half a million a year. A majority of swing voters, 51 percent, said they want to see levels reduced anywhere from 750,000 to fewer than 500,000 a year.

On chain migration, 70 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats, and 65 percent of swing voters said they support eliminating the massive pipeline altogether. A majority of Republicans, Democrats, and swing voters also back requiring businesses to recruit jobless Americans off the labor market sidelines rather than allowing them to readily fill U.S. jobs with foreign visa workers.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here

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