Friday, July 09, 2010

Piecemeal Immigration Reform

"the Washington establishment [is] so dismissive of modest legislation [because it] neither flatters the egos of wonks nor enhances the legacies (or electoral prospects) of Congressional members. And it ruins the strategy of holding common-sense reforms hostage to more controversial policy changes, a type of gamesmanship on which legislators rely."

-- Conor Friedersdof, Forbes, 7.08.10


Friedersdof is trying to explain why we always wrongly go for the big change when little steps are easier to pass, and much less likely to create future problems. And specifically, Friedersdof is attacking comprehensive immigration reform, exactly as I did earlier.

I liked many recommendations from the Council on Foreign Relations’ study, U.S. Immigration Policy, but thought it wrong to try to make all the changes at once. It’s more realistic to close the borders first, fix illegal workplace hiring, and push through changes that bring in more qualified immigrants right away, building a national consensus behind broader immigration reform before dealing with less-skilled (unskilled) workers and illegal immigrants.

Though he has the right idea, Friedersdof ‘s first steps are limited to:

➢ Expanding visa allotments for highly skilled immigrants, helping us join the global competition for talent that other industrialized countries long ago began in earnest.

➢ finishing a border fence whose half-existence steers unlawful border jumpers toward the most dangerous parts of the desert.

➢ passing the DREAM Act, extending lawful status to some children illegally brought to the United States.

➢ expelling the least desirable newcomers: illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes, felonies or other serious transgressions against the law.