Com­mon sense is sighted in Wash­ing­ton

A new bill would fa­vor im­mi­grants ready to con­trib­ute on ar­rival

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Cal Thomas Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist. His lat­est book is “What Works: Com­mon Sense So­lu­tions for a Stronger Amer­ica” (Zon­der­van, 2014).

“Sound prac­ti­cal judg­ment that is in­de­pen­dent of spe­cial­ized knowl­edge, train­ing, or the like; nor­mal na­tive in­tel­li­gence.” — Dic­tionary.com’s def­i­ni­tion of com­mon sense.

Some­times what used to be called “com­mon sense” can seem rad­i­cal in Wash­ing­ton, which is used to prac­tic­ing sense­less poli­cies and fund­ing pro­grams that don’t work.

Im­mi­gra­tion is a per­fect ex­am­ple. Ev­ery­one says the sys­tem is bro­ken. There have been no sub­stan­tive pol­icy changes since the ’60s, but un­til last week few had put forth a sen­si­ble and cred­i­ble plan for fix­ing what ails it.

Thanks to Sens. Tom Cot­ton, Arkansas Repub­li­can, and David Per­due, Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can, we now have a plan wor­thy of se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion, even im­ple­men­ta­tion. Last week, they in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that, ac­cord­ing to USA To­day, that would “over­turn the rules for be­com­ing an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen and cut in half the num­ber al­lowed in.”

There are three keys to their pro­posal. The first is that peo­ple seek­ing to im­mi­grate to Amer­ica must pos­sess skills qual­i­fy­ing them for a job, or have a job wait­ing so they would not be­come part of our bloated wel­fare and de­pen­dency cul­ture.

The sec­ond key con­cerns num­bers and the goal of elim­i­nat­ing chain mi­gra­tion. De­spite coun­ter­ar­gu­ments based on the Emma Lazarus poem about the world send­ing Amer­ica its “tired and poor,” po­ems are not the Con­sti­tu­tion, or the law, oth­er­wise Emily Dickinson might have be­come pres­i­dent. Po­ems are about sen­ti­ment. The right im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy is about survival.

No na­tion can main­tain its char­ac­ter with­out con­trol­ling its bor­ders. Think of a sim­ple anal­ogy. If I fill a glass with wa­ter and then pour milk into the glass, the more milk I pour, the more wa­ter is dis­placed. That’s the United States, ab­sent a sound and sane im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

Key num­ber three is lan­guage. It isn’t dif­fi­cult for im­mi­grants to learn enough English to func­tion in Amer­ica. I meet them in Wash­ing­ton and ev­ery­where I travel. Here’s the of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment po­si­tion for be­com­ing a ci­ti­zen: “To be­come a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. ci­ti­zen, you must pass the nat­u­ral­iza­tion test. At your nat­u­ral­iza­tion in­ter­view, you will be re­quired to an­swer ques­tions about your ap­pli­ca­tion and back­ground. You will also take an English and civics test un­less you qual­ify for an ex­emp­tion or waiver.”

Un­der cur­rent pol­icy, nonci­t­i­zens don’t have to take an English test if they are 50 years old or older, and have lived in the U.S. as per­ma­nent res­i­dents for at least 20 years. If some­one has lived in Amer­ica for 20 years and still can’t speak English, doesn’t that sug­gest a prob­lem?

The Cot­ton-Per­due mea­sure would also elim­i­nate the Green Card Lot­tery, which, in an ef­fort to add di­ver­sity to the coun­try, grants 50,000 green cards each year to coun­tries that don’t nor­mally send many im­mi­grants to the U.S.

Any­one who thinks im­mi­gra­tion is a par­ti­san is­sue should take note, as the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies has done, of a sim­i­lar plan pro­posed in the mid-’90s by Rep. Bar­bara Jor­dan, Texas Demo­crat, who as chair of the U.S. Com­mis­sion on Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form, ad­vo­cated for in­creased re­stric­tions on im­mi­gra­tion. Her ef­fort was squashed by a com­bi­na­tion of the cor­po­rate right (which wants cheap la­bor) and the cul­tural left (which wants more votes for Democrats). The com­mon sense of these re­forms re­mains.

Pres­i­dent Trump says he will sign a bill con­tain­ing the Cot­ton-Per­due lan­guage, but as with so much else in dys­func­tional Wash­ing­ton, its suc­cess will de­pend on whether Congress has any com­mon sense left to do some­thing that is trans­par­ently nec­es­sary and will ben­e­fit the coun­try. Af­ter the de­ba­cle over health in­sur­ance, rais­ing the debt ceil­ing (more debt), sug­ges­tions that tax re­form may have to wait un­til af­ter a bud­get is passed (more spend­ing) and a new poll show­ing pub­lic ap­proval of Congress at just 10 per­cent, no one should be op­ti­mistic.

The Cot­ton-Per­due mea­sure would also elim­i­nate the Green Card Lot­tery, which, in an ef­fort to add di­ver­sity to the coun­try, grants 50,000 green cards each year to coun­tries that don’t nor­mally send many im­mi­grants to the U.S.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY HUNTER

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