A dead-end im­mi­gra­tion pro­posal

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­pears on Bloomberg View:

Leave aside the other fea­tures of the im­mi­gra­tionre­form pro­posal Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump en­dorsed on Wed­nes­day and fo­cus on its main idea: Re­duc­ing im­mi­gra­tion by half over a decade. It’s the wrong goal. There’s no doubt the U.S. im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem is bro­ken — or that a shift to merit-based im­mi­gra­tion, which the pro­posal ad­vo­cates, is long over­due. But ad­mit­ting far fewer im­mi­grants would do enor­mous dam­age to the U.S. econ­omy and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s fis­cal sta­bil­ity.

The leg­is­la­tion Trump em­braced, pro­posed by Repub­li­can sen­a­tors Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and David Per­due of Ge­or­gia, would not in­crease skills-based im­mi­gra­tion. In­deed, the num­ber of skilled im­mi­grants granted le­gal res­i­dency an­nu­ally would re­main roughly what it is now, 140,000, while fam­ily visas would be slashed and the 50,000 so-called di­ver­sity visas (for ap­pli­cants from coun­tries that are oth­er­wise un­der­rep­re­sented) would be elim­i­nated al­to­gether.

Trump said the new sys­tem “will re­duce poverty, in­crease wages and save tax­pay­ers bil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars.” How this would hap­pen is a mys­tery.

The sharp re­duc­tion in im­mi­grant work­ers in the years ahead would also re­duce tax re­ceipts for So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care and Med­i­caid, the tri­pod sup­port­ing the na­tion’s rapidly-ag­ing baby boomers — 10,000 of whom re­tire daily. Im­mi­grants paid about $328 bil­lion US in taxes in 2014, ac­cord­ing to one es­ti­mate.

In ef­fect, the plan would take the de­mo­graphic head­winds the U.S. faces al­ready and trans­form them into a gale. To counter those winds, the na­tion needs higher pro­duc­tiv­ity. And one way to boost pro­duc­tiv­ity is to wel­come skilled im­mi­grants.

Trump claims to ad­mire the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tems of Canada and Aus­tralia, and both are good role models.

But those na­tions also ad­mit far more im­mi­grants, as a per­cent­age of pop­u­la­tion, than the U.S. does. This plan is not a skills-based sys­tem akin to Aus­tralia and Canada. What the pres­i­dent and sen­a­tors are propos­ing is a dead end.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.