Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

National Review and Weekly Standard agree: kill the immigration bill

Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard) and Rich Lowry (National Review) write about immigration reform in National Review.

Excerpt:

We are conservatives who have differed in the past on immigration reform, with Kristol favorably disposed toward it and Lowry skeptical. But the Gang of Eight has brought us into full agreement: Their bill, passed out of the Senate, is a comprehensive mistake. House Republicans should kill it without reservation.

[...]The bill’s first fatal deficiency is that it doesn’t solve the illegal-immigration problem. The enforcement provisions are riddled with exceptions, loopholes, and waivers. Every indication is that they are for show and will be disregarded, just as prior notional requirements to build a fence or an entry/exit visa system have been – and just as President Obama has recently announced he’s ignoring aspects of Obamacare that are inconvenient to enforce on schedule. Why won’t he waive a requirement for the use of E-Verify just as he’s unilaterally delayed the employer mandate? The fact that the legalization of illegal immigrants comes first makes it all the more likely that enforcement provisions will be ignored the same way they were after passage of the 1986 amnesty.

Marco Rubio says he doesn’t want to have to come back ten years from now and deal with the same illegal-immigration problem. But that’s exactly what the CBO says will happen under his own bill. According to the CBO analysis of the bill, it will reduce illegal immigration by as little as a third or by half at most. By one estimate, this means there will be about 7.5 million illegal immigrants here in ten years. And this is under the implausible assumption that the Obama administration would administer the law as written.

The bill’s changes in legal immigration are just as ill considered. Everyone professes to agree that our system should be tilted toward high-skilled immigration, but the Gang of Eight bill unleashes a flood of additional low-skilled immigration. The last thing low-skilled native and immigrant workers already here should have to deal with is wage-depressing competition from newly arriving workers. Nor is the new immigration under the bill a panacea for the long-term fiscal ills of entitlements, as often argued, because those programs are redistributive and most of the immigrants will be low-income workers.

Finally, there is the sheer size of the bill and the hasty manner in which it was amended and passed. Conservatives have eloquently and convincingly made the case against bills like this during the Obama years. Such bills reflect a mistaken belief in central planning and in practice become a stew of deals, payoffs, waivers, and special-interest breaks. Why would House Republicans now sign off on this kind of lawmaking? If you think Obamacare and Dodd-Frank are going swimmingly, you’ll love the Gang of Eight bill. It’s the opposite of conservative reform, which simplifies and limits government, strengthens the rule of law, and empowers citizens.

My position on immigration is simple. Build the fence first. Implement e-verify for employers and harsh penalties for hiring anyone without a work permit. Automatic green cards for skilled workers who prove they can work here, pay taxes, obey the law, and not collect federal benefits of any kind, for a period of six years (cumulative). A robust program to allow temporary low-skilled workers to work here temporarily, with no path to permanent residency or citizenship. No permanent residency for illegal immigrants. No path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m struck by the simplicity of your immigration position. How would solve the policy problem that, of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants here, many are homeowners paying mortgages (ridiculous but true), many are skilled and indispensible to their employers, and many have children who are citizens, who would not do well if thrust back to their own country?

    The only three options I see are extending the status quo, blanket deportation (highly unpopular with the general public), or some form of legalization that would attempt to regularize existing immigrants into the fold of a high-functioning American rule of law (something very much in question under Obama’s imperial executive style). The first two options are destructive, so I think we must go with the third. Not for all 11 million, but some acceptable portion.

  2. On your position, would the government allow low-skilled workers to acquire high-skilled jobs? And would they in turn have a chance for green cards? Completely barring citizenship as an eventual possibility will prove untenable in any conceivable Congress, I think.

    • No, because you would have to have a degree in a field that is relevant to one of the highly skilled areas, and some experience working in that field. My understanding for example is that software engineers need to have an accredited BS and show their transcript and resume. No low-skilled worker has that. And that’s how we make sure that they aren’t here to game the system.

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