Don’t let lib­er­als de­mo­nize im­mi­gra­tion re­form

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Mercedes Sch­lapp

Lib­er­als are launch­ing a cam­paign to de­mo­nize and dele­git­imize one of President Trump’s key pol­icy ini­tia­tives for purely par­ti­san ends. No sooner had Repub­li­can Sens. Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and David Per­due of Ge­or­gia joined Mr. Trump Wed­nes­day at the White House to pro­mote their Re­form­ing Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion for Strong Econ­omy (RAISE) Act than calls of racism and xeno­pho­bia came flood­ing in from Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress and lib­eral pun­dits alike.

Do lib­er­als think na­tions such as Canada, Ja­pan, Bri­tain and Aus­tralia are pur­su­ing “racist” im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies? All have had merit-based im­mi­gra­tion sys­tems in place for decades. In some cases they cre­ated a point sys­tem where ed­u­ca­tion level, skills and ex­pe­ri­ence are given ex­tra weight. For in­stance, Bri­tain cre­ated a ranked sys­tem where one en­tire tier was elim­i­nated after Bri­tish of­fi­cials de­cided that they would no longer al­low un­skilled im­mi­grants to enter from out­side the Euro­pean Union.

For too long the U.S. im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem has fo­cused on ac­cept­ing low-skilled im­mi­grants. Ba­sic economics tells us that the surge of low-skilled workers de­presses wages and harms the prospects of Amer­i­can workers. While low-skilled im­mi­grants have a place in our econ­omy, a greater pri­or­ity needs to be placed on at­tract­ing high-skilled im­mi­grants to match the econ­omy’s needs.

As Mr. Per­due said at the White House, “We want to wel­come tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als from around the world who wish to come to the United States le­gally to work and make a bet­ter life for them­selves.

“The RAISE Act will cre­ate a skills­based sys­tem that is more re­spon­sive to the needs of our econ­omy and pre­serves the qual­ity of jobs avail­able to Amer­i­can workers.”

The bill faces a tough road ahead in Congress. Sixty votes are needed in the Se­nate for the bill to pass, and sev­eral Repub­li­can law­mak­ers have al­ready come out in op­po­si­tion. Sen. Lind­say Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can, said that the bill would be “dev­as­tat­ing to [South Carolina’s] econ­omy,” and Ari­zona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake ex­pressed his con­cerns with the sharp cuts to the num­ber of le­gal im­mi­grants.

Many com­pa­nies, most no­tably in the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor, also op­pose the bill. The In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy In­dus­try Coun­cil, a lead­ing tech­nol­ogy trade or­ga­ni­za­tion, ar­gues the mea­sure would be bad for in­no­va­tion and re­cruit­ment.

The Cot­ton-Per­due bill fo­cuses on just one part of the im­mi­gra­tion re­form puz­zle. The idea of cut­ting the num­ber of le­gal im­mi­grants by half needs to be eval­u­ated to en­sure that the num­ber of le­gal im­mi­grants is not stag­nant but re­sponds to our chang­ing eco­nomic needs.

There is also a need to re­visit the guest-worker pro­gram that is par­tic­u­larly vi­tal to the agri­cul­ture sec­tor. Canada has suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented a guest-worker pro­gram, which may serve as a model for the U.S.

The bill’s an­nounce­ment came as some­thing of a sur­prise, which did not give the sup­port­ers much of a chance to or­ga­nize early sup­port.

Hold­ing lis­ten­ing ses­sions with the var­i­ous in­dus­try and mi­nor­ity groups who are most af­fected will pro­vide valu­able feed­back, along with a chance to build broad sup­port.

While the RAISE Act is the start of re­work­ing and mod­ern­iz­ing our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, the leg­is­la­tion will be dif­fi­cult to pass in Congress, which means fur­ther de­lay in sig­nif­i­cantly chang­ing our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem. Our out­dated im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem only hurts the Amer­i­can worker, and a merit-based sys­tem could help bal­ance the skills we need to pre­serve our pros­per­ity. Mercedes Sch­lapp is a Fox News con­trib­u­tor, co-founder of Cove Strate­gies and for­mer White House di­rec­tor of spe­cialty me­dia un­der President Ge­orge W. Bush.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“We want to wel­come tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als from around the world who wish to come to the United States le­gally,” said Sen. David Per­due (right).

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