Rep. Jerry Nadler on Thursday argued the U.S. needs “many illegal immigrants” in the country to pick vegetables and keep them from rotting.

The New York Democrat made the remark during a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement hearing about the “Impact of Illegal Immigration on Social Services.”

“We need immigrants in this country,” Nadler said. “Forget the fact that our vegetables would rot in the ground if they weren’t being picked by many immigrants — many illegal immigrants.

“The fact is the birth rate in this country is way below replacement level, which means our population is going to start shrinking,” he added. “And the ratio of people on Social Security and Medicare is going to increase relative to the number of people supporting them.”

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Nadler’s comments drew the attention of social media users.

“Yes, all the millions of illegals from 150+ countries spanning the globe are going to Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, etc. to work in the fields,” Stephen Miller, who served as a senior adviser to former President Trump, said on X.

“What a tired, vapid, exhausted and stupid cliche. Just utter nonsense.”

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Nadler is not the only Democrat who has made this argument. In 2022, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi said farmers need illegal immigrants “to pick the crops” in Florida. Last year, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said vegetables in her state would start “rotting” due to an anti-illegal immigrant law.

The illegal immigration crisis experienced a record-breaking month in December, with over 300,000 encounters at the southern border. The influx has continued to strain communities as migrants are bussed from the southern border to the north. 

Groups of migrants have been transported by bus and plane in an act of protest from southern states, most prominently Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began sending them to New York City and other sanctuary jurisdictions last year. 

Abbott’s office has said it has sent around 27,000 migrants to New York City since then and has done so to relieve pressure on the border communities.