There’s merit in im­mi­gra­tion plan Trump en­dorsed

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - MATT MACKOWIAK Matt Mack­owiakis the pres­i­dent of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Po­tomac Strat­egy Group, a Repub­li­can con­sul­tant, a Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and Bush-Cheney re-elec­tion cam­paign vet­eran, and for­mer press sec­re­tary to two U.S. se­na­tor

There may be no pol­icy is­sue on which Pres­i­dent Trump is more clearly de­fined than im­mi­gra­tion. Through­out the cam­paign, his hard­line views on end­ing sanc­tu­ary cities, stop­ping il­le­gal em­ploy­ment, build­ing the bor­der wall, rapidly de­port­ing crim­i­nal aliens and push­ing for Kate’s Law were brought up in nearly every speech.

The im­mi­gra­tion is­sue has his­tor­i­cally been po­lit­i­cally ad­van­ta­geous for Democrats, as they have staked out a po­si­tion which the me­dia de­scribes as more “com­pas­sion­ate.” Democrats have used im­mi­gra­tion as a wedge is­sue in gen­eral elec­tion cam­paigns with some suc­cess, par­tic­u­larly in states with large His­panic pop­u­la­tions.

Fears about the po­lit­i­cal cost of the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue led many Repub­li­cans to un­suc­cess­fully sup­port com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form sev­eral years ago, re­sult­ing in an ill-fated bill which passed the Se­nate, but died in the House in 2014.

Wed­nes­day’s pol­icy an­nounce­ment from Mr. Trump, high­light­ing his sup­port of the RAISE Act, leg­is­la­tion au­thored by GOP Sens. Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and David Per­due of Ge­or­gia, gives the bill far more at­ten­tion and mo­men­tum than it would have other­wise re­ceived. The RAISE Act aims to tran­si­tion to a mer­it­based sys­tem in de­ter­min­ing who gets into the coun­try, not un­like Canada and Aus­tralia.

A fact sheet re­leased by the White House of­fered an amaz­ing statis­tic: “Only one of every 15 im­mi­grants to the U.S. comes here be­cause of their skills.”

Wouldn’t it make more sense for Amer­ica to be more se­lec­tive about which le­gal im­mi­grants we al­low into our coun­try?

Mr. Trump’s view, which has been ad­vanced by ra­dio host Laura In­gra­ham for many years, is that low-skilled im­mi­grants de­press the wages of Amer­i­cans.

We can all sym­pa­thize with the low-skilled per­son from Cen­tral Amer­ica who wants to come to the U.S. in search of a bet­ter life, with the dream of even­tu­ally bring­ing their fam­ily here. But there must be a limit and our coun­try must put its econ­omy and own work­ers first.

Le­gal im­mi­gra­tion should be mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. We should re­turn our fo­cus to at­tract­ing skilled work­ers, those who can speak English and will con­trib­ute to the econ­omy with­out need­ing gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits.

The White House says that 50 per­cent of all im­mi­grant house­holds re­ceive wel­fare ben­e­fits, com­pared to 30 per­cent of na­tive-born Amer­i­cans. That is far too high to jus­tify keep­ing the cur­rent le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem in place.

Mr. Cot­ton and Mr. Per­due’s bill would change the cur­rent per­ma­nent em­ploy­ment-visa sys­tem into a skills-based sys­tem, re­ward­ing ap­pli­cants with English­language abil­ity, pre­vi­ous achieve­ments, en­tre­pre­neur­ial po­ten­tial and a good-pay­ing job of­fer in hand.

This bill rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of fam­i­lies, by pri­or­i­tiz­ing nu­clear fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing spouses and mi­nor chil­dren, but ends the prac­tice of giv­ing pref­er­ence to ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers and adult chil­dren. Cit­i­zens need­ing to care for el­derly par­ents can ap­ply for and re­ceive tem­po­rary visas for them.

This pro­posal will be con­tro­ver­sial in some parts of the coun­try.

Democrats will surely op­pose any change to the cur­rent bro­ken le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that would limit the in­flux of low-skilled work­ers, as they see those im­mi­grants as fu­ture Demo­cratic vot­ers when and if an amnesty pro­gram passes.

The leg­isla­tive path­way for this bill is un­cer­tain, as it would likely re­quire 60 votes in the Se­nate and there are only 52 Repub­li­can sen­a­tors.

But if Democrats want to de­fend a bro­ken im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that at­tracts 1 mil­lion le­gal im­mi­grants an­nu­ally, mostly low-skilled work­ers who would be more likely to need gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance, they can choose to do that. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will make the case that a more sen­si­ble le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem would be bet­ter for Amer­i­can work­ers, the Amer­i­can econ­omy and Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers.

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