Pethokoukis, Economics, U.S. Economy

This isn’t the immigration reform you’re looking for — but it could be


On Earth-2, Election Night 2012 turned out to be a very near thing for the Romney campaign. What was supposed to be a comfortable victory turned into a nail biter. While the campaign team was overjoyed when that 270th electoral vote was finally locked down, the celebration was tempered by the realization of how close they came to blowing it.

Turned out there was no margin for error. What if the “47%” video had come out in September rather than a couple of days earlier? Might have cast a pall over the entire fall campaign. Or what if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hadn’t been hospitalized with a mysterious stomach ailment when Superstorm Sandy hit? A healthy Christie might have toured the damaged Jersey shore with President Obama, maybe giving the struggling campaign a needed fillip. And counting on Project Orca without a proper shakedown? A huge gamble that easily could have come back to bite them in the keister. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

The first term of the 45th American president had hardly begun and his political team was already thinking about 2016. How to maintain or improve their showing among white, working-class voters while also beginning to reverse the GOP’s collapse among Hispanics. How to recover from Romney’s “self deportation” gaffe?

Senator Marco Rubio was tasked with shepherding a comprehensive immigration bill through Congress that would be worthwhile wonkery and, as a side benefit, helpful politics. Key elements of the package: Legalizing undocumented workers but providing them no path to citizenship without leaving the country and applying as a legal immigrant. Requiring low-skill immigrants post assimilation bonds. Using auctions to distribute most work permits and visas. Granting a green card to every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a US university. Overall, a plan to a) create market-driven immigration policy geared toward producing a flexible, high-skill workforce that could adjust to technological change, and b) prevent another influx of undocumented, low-skill workers. …

Clearly, the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform isn’t anywhere near what I just described. The guest worker program particularly seems a mess. But it’s better than the status quo, particularly in its attempt to make immigration policy better match future US workforce needs. It could use improvement. Some of that might happen in the Senate. Hopefully much more in the House. Now is the time for advocates of pro-growth immigration policy to shape the debate, not work to end it.

4 thoughts on “This isn’t the immigration reform you’re looking for — but it could be

  1. Completely missing from the wishcasting: border security.

    ” Legalizing undocumented workers but providing them no path to citizenship without leaving the country and applying as a legal immigrant. ”

    Yeah, the goodwill on that won’t even last until the ink is dry on that bill. Democrat ads will be full of “2nd class citizens” and “Jim Crow returns!” The GOP will end up even further behind on the precious Hispanic vote.

  2. Don’t get fooled again. We cannot trust this government to secure jobs or the border, 2/3 of likely voters say (Rasmussen poll 5/7/2013). Make the federal prove us wrong by getting control of the border, immigration and jobs. Make good on the promises of the first amnesty in 1986. No amnesty, no citizenship ever.

  3. Its Illegal immigration Halloween, Trick or Treat! Tomorrow will be celebrated as the the day of the dead. What is dying is the immigration system, the concept that our borders are controllable but NOT controlled prevents any legalization of those who have violated them VERY unappealing to those who believe that the Law of the Land is essentially negated. A nation is defined by its borders, and if those borders are meaningless, then the NATION loses its distinction from any other land. The LAWS of that nation are also defined by those borders, again no distinguishable border, no distinguishable LAW. Our country is on the verge of being a lawless frontier, already being colonized. Having our political leadership declare that the existing laws shall not be enforced, simply opens the doors. Having our ‘friendly” southern neighbor encourage and facilitating the illegal immigration of its citizens north, can only be seen as a nation that sanctions the take-over of the northerly neighbor. What is an invasion? An influx of a population into the lawful territory of another nation. Saying that a invasion has to be an ARMED incursion denies that the invasion is what it plainly is, an organized process to take over a country, and within 20 years the CHILDREN born there as illegally present aliens will be voting as citizens, with loyalty to their parent’s country, in philosophy and motivation, seeing reconquista as their goal. This is the plan of AZTLAN, Maldef and ultimately the Mexican government. They want to return 50% of the continental United States to Mexican nationality. This plan is well underway.

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