The Middle Ground on Immigration Reform
Posted at noon on July 16
As the Senate’s immigration reform bill continues to languish in the House, Ramesh Ponnuru argues that the middle ground in the reform debate would be much more effective than both the Senate proposal and the status quo.
“Like the current bill, an alternative would include provisions to enforce the laws against illegal immigration. But it could differ in refusing to simply throw money at the border… Also like the current bill, the alternative would include an amnesty for undocumented immigrants — but a less sweeping one, applying only to people whose illegal stay began while they were children and who have otherwise followed the law… The path to citizenship for these young people should be more rapid than the one in the Senate bill.”
“The danger of a more sweeping amnesty is that it would encourage new illegal entrants by signaling that they will eventually be legalized, too. Congress should therefore hold off on that step while making sure that enforcement is up and running… Limited amnesty would be a good-faith gesture to show that the promise of future legalization isn’t merely words.”
“An alternative should also take a different approach on legal immigration. It should encourage immigration by highly skilled individuals, especially scientists and engineers, for the sake of higher economic growth. It should at the same time cut back on immigration based on reuniting extended families, which is nice but shouldn’t be a national priority… And, finally, the alternative shouldn’t include a guest-worker program.”