Jared Kushner Makes the Case for Merit-Based Immigration

He says his plan will prioritize highly skilled immigrants and will "maintain our country's humanitarian values."


White House adviser Jared Kushner says he will present a plan to President Donald Trump making the case for a merit-based immigration system that prioritizes highly skilled immigrants over those with family ties to the United States.

Speaking at the TIME 100 Summit on Tuesday, Kushner said the U.S. should take a cue from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, all of which employ a complex points system to determine who is eligible for entry. This, he suggested, would "unify people" around strong American wages, a secure border, and humanitarian values.

"I do believe that the president's position on immigration has been maybe defined by his opponents by what he's against as opposed to what he's for," Kushner said.

That Trump's opponents have been more instrumental in branding his views on immigration than Trump himself is a dubious claim, as the president has consistently cast migrants as "criminals" and "rapists." He's also flipped on the subject more than once—just this year he said that he wants immigrants to come "in the largest numbers ever," but later claimed that "our country's full." (It isn't.)

But just what would a merit-based system look like here in the States, and how would it accomplish Kushner's ambitious end-game? The answer to that question is about as easy to pin down as is Trump's immigration stance.

Take Canada, for instance, which utilizes a multifaceted 100-point selection factor grid that considers language skills, education, age, work experience, arranged employment in the country, and adaptability. The latter category is quite broad, accounting for spousal factors, professional experience in Canada, as well as family ties to the area. (Although Kushner's plan has yet to be revealed, he seemed to imply that family ties and merit are mutually exclusive.)

That difference notwithstanding, it's likely that Kushner's proposal will look similar to Canada's. But our northern neighbor's approach is anything but a one-size fits all solution—it has one-tenth the population of the U.S., after all, with more people living in California than in all of Canada.

With a workforce that currently hovers around 130 million full-time employees—more than 300 percent of Canada's total population—it's impossible to expect the government to accurately predict a superlative economic balance, particularly if we're using Canada as the gold standard. The country has toggled back and forth between emphasizing labor market needs (which, with ineffective models, led to immigrant underemployment) and demand-driven factors (which brought an influx of immigrants who were considered to be unskilled).

If anything, Canada's experiment shows the unfeasibility of determining the optimal immigration level, particularly with varying interests at play. And these biases couldn't be clearer with Kushner's guest worker proposal, which he says will provide temporary visas to those seeking work in agriculture, hospitality, and a slew of other seasonal jobs (and which the Trump administration has already considered increasing in recent weeks). In other words, Kushner and Trump both tacitly acknowledge the economy's dependence on low-skilled immigrants, particularly as the country adds more jobs than it can fill.

Kushner's plan follows on the heels of the reintroduction of the RAISE Act, a bill spearheaded by Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.) and backed by Sens. David Perdue (R–Ga.) and Josh Hawley (R–Mo.). Also a merit-based proposal, it aims to cut legal immigrants in half. Kushner has called his bill "neutral" in closed-door meetings, per Axios, meaning that it will neither raise nor lower legal immigration levels overall.

Although comprehensive immigration reform is unlikely with a divided House and Senate, Kushner said at the TIME 100 Summit that he has the approval of both Stephen Miller, President Trump's hawkish immigration adviser, and Kevin Hassett, the pro-immigration Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

"If I can get Stephen Miller and Kevin Hassett to agree on an immigration plan, then Middle East peace will be easy by comparison," he said.

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  1. --- If anything, Canada's experiment shows the unfeasibility of determining the optimal immigration level ---

    Actually famous Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises warned that central economic planning is an exercise in futility because of the economic calculation problem, which describes the issue of trying to coordinate production or trade without the benefit of MARKET prices. A so-called "Merit Based" immigrantion policy is condemned to failure because the policy makers operate on the conceit that they better understand labor requirements than the very Market that demands labor. Which is no surprise: Trumpistas are ridiculously conceited.

    1. Tell me more about these market prices, oh great defender of the clowns that worship the minimum wage and unions

      1. I wasn't aware that Ludwig von Mises had a positive view of the minimum wage or unions.

        1. Don't put unions in the same category as minimum wage. The minimum wage is based on government coercion. There is nothing inherently wrong with unions.

          1. There is nothing inherently wrong with unions.

            Agreed, except for the fact that they tend to exist to lobby for government protections (ie rent seeking). But the problem isn't that people are free to form unions and attempt to rent seek, the problem is that the government grants them what they lobby for.

            1. Yep, totally agree.

        2. I was talking to Old Mexican but okay

    2. It's different this time OM-MH. This time the central planners are on the right, not the left.

      There's nothing in the streets
      Looks any different to me
      And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
      And the parting on the left
      Is now parting on the right
      And the beards have all grown longer overnight
      We won't get fooled again!

      1. Our existing immigration system is central planning. It just plans things that Reason likes; unskilled, disabled, illiterate, criminal, diseased immigrants who claim asylum/refugee status or who have family ties (Uncle Mohammed can get a Rascal scooter, free oxygen generator, diabetic supplies and SSI !) while severely restricting highly skilled, educated and or wealthy immigrants who who pose a threat to their peers' jobs or compensation level.

        1. I don't disagree. Our existing immigration system is central planning, and is no good.

          No government restrictions on high or low skilled labor--letting the market decide instead of central planning--would be much preferred.

        2. Yup.

          Here's the thing: We're NOT going to get a free market in labor. That is off the table.

          So the question is, accepting that fact, what is the best course of action? Given that we have a welfare state, we don't need dependents moving in. Given that low skilled labor is ever lowering in demand, we don't need that either. Soooo maybe import people that make above average wages, and do the jobs of the future? Seems pretty obvious to me.

          Also, even if we had open borders, one must accept what this REALLY means... Averaging all nations out. That is AWESOME for shitty countries, to become closer to the mean... But it's horrible for 1st world nations. If average wages in the USA dropped in half because of massive immigration, it would STILL be a HUGE step up for most of the world. But it would be hell for people from here compared to what it is like now.

          People who don't accept that this averaging out is the obvious outcome of open borders are delusional, there is no other realistic outcome.

    3. Fuck off with your reductionism. Immigration isn't about importing robots to do manual labor. It's about demographic and cultural replacement. There already is a marketplace for cultural warfare; it's called free elections and American citizens have made it very clear they are opposed to continued illegal immigration, blanket amnesty, and demographic replacement schemes aimed at winning votes.

  2. Saying that rapists and murderers are sneaking across the border is an absolute fact. Every other week there's an incident where somebody who was deported snuck back in and murdered somebody. However, this is a statistically negligible problem, and the vast majority of illegal immigrants do not commit crimes. That is also a fact. But then again, white supremacist attacks and gay bashings are statistically nonsensical fears, too, that almost never happen. The fearmongering and generalization about those things by Democrats and the press is no better than Trump's fearmongering about MS13. I just wish everybody stopped fearmongering about everything. America is safer and better than ever.

    1. If only they'd start fearmongering about the welfare state

    2. Actually, every illegal immigrant is committing a crime.

      And while the murders from illegals may be statistically negligible, I don't think the families of the murdered people are gonna buy it.

    3. Statistical significance is irrelevant. Per our own laws, people who aren't supposed to be here to begin with are murdering people who are supposed to be here. That's the problem with illegal immigrant crime. Even if the rates are lower than the US born population, it doesn't matter. The illegal immigrant crime rate should be zero because there should be zero illegal immigrants.

      I'm still shocked that alternative media hasn't pushed Angel Moms to the forefront of the culture war yet. The optics are dreadful for the swamp. Taco trucks for dead kids is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

    4. Explain how America went from ~2% Hispanic to ~16% Hispanic, mostly via illegal immigration, anchor babies, and Reagan amnesty... And how Hispanics are represented at more than 2x their share of the population in murders according to the FBI... And yet somehow illegal immigrants and their kids are lower crime than Americans?

      It doesn't jive. Most people who say that shit lump in legal Chinese engineer immigrants with the illegals... Which is bunk. They also use the national average for Americans, which now includes tons of illegal Hispanics and their kids, and most importantly black people. Hispanics DO commit crimes less than blacks, but ONLY less than blacks. They're the 2nd highest crime group in the country.

      So if you want to use Detroit as your acceptable bar for crime, fine... But it's a shit idea.

      In reality any place illegals move into, if they're not displacing a black community, the crime will go up. This is just a matter of statistics. FYI I'm part Mexican myself, and grew up in California the first half of my life. This shit is real yo.

  3. Sell H-1B visas to the highest bidder and let the market decide.

    1. Close. Forget about H-1B visas and actually let the market decide.

      1. Who gets to vote, and this is where it leads, isn't a market decision.

        1. It doesn't have to lead to that. Congress is entirely justified in setting naturalization policy. Only citizens get to vote. But Congress and the Executive are not efficient at commanding the labor market by regulating the supply and demand of labor, and thus, they shouldn't attempt to.

          Naturalization does not equal immigration, nor does it have to. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to separate the two, because they're more interested in political calculus than solving problems.

          1. If guest workers can't vote, they also cannot be calculated as part of the Census to assign representation and electoral votes. Otherwise you have the current situation where states import illegal immigrants and establish sanctuaries to steal representatives and electoral votes from non sanctuary states.

            1. Do you think that really happens? Do you have a link to a credible study? I guess I'd be willing to discuss that proposal if this were a real policy debate.

              The idea is pretty bad optics from your side though. What with the whole Constitutional recognition of 3/5's of a person for slaves. Not to mention I'm pretty sure you'd need a Constitutional Amendment to change Article 1 Section 2.

              1. It's already happened because we haven't had citizenship questions in recent Censuses. The question is whether or not the Democrats who run sanctuary municipalities acknowledge that they're just doing this for the votes or because they genuinely believe in some greater good.

                There really aren't many studies on this subject and they're all biased in that they come from organizations that focus on immigration issues, but here is one such study.


                1. Also see Evenwel v. Abbott. IANAL so I can't comment on the truthiness from a law perspective, but the effective policy of counting illegal immigrants because they partake in society is an extremely dangerous slippery slope. The logic that permits an illegal immigrant to count towards representation because "they're impacted too," by definition, leads to giving illegals the vote on moral grounds. If they're impacted enough to be counted, why not enough to vote? If it's immoral to deny them any representation, it cannot possibly be moral to deny them complete representation.

                  1. Random note: the Reason Foundation teamed up with Cato to support Evenwel in her appeal. I'm glad to know even Reason realizes that counting illegal immigrants in any capacity in the voter rolls is highly unconstitutional. It's quite literally modern slavery except this time, the slave owners get a full vote per illegal instead of 3/5.

                    The optics would be awful, but I'm still hopeful that Trump and Kobach will investigate sanctuary municipalities and charge their mayors/governors with treason. I don't know how these elected officials can be given the benefit of the doubt when the primary and direct result of sanctuary municipalities is diluting votes to overthrow our government.

          2. If we eliminated birthright citizenship, didn't count them in the census, and didn't allow them to vote... I'd be okay with letting the labor market more or less ebb and flow as needed.

            But as long as anchor babies are a thing, and these people can vote, if we want to maintain a free society we HAVE to limit immigration. The polls are clear: ALL immigrant groups are far to the left of native born Americans.

            Even if you believe we can convert all these people in time, it still means we need to control the influx so we're not swamped. We actually already are. If elections were only decided by people who have been here for 3 generations on all sides of their family this country would be a completely different, freer place. Immigrants and their kids have tilted America heavily to the left.

            Sometimes facts hurt, but they're still true.

            1. The Uruk-Hai will assimilate in 3 to 4 generations. The real problem is Urukophobia.

              I'm surprised Trump hasn't retweeted orcposting memes. They really explain the situation well.

              1. Pretty much. Even if you believe the melting pot will EVENTUALLY work on everybody, you still have the legitimate question of speed and scale, and the effects that will have in between now and when they assimilate.

                I for one don't think many groups ever will fully assimilate. Look at blacks. They're been here as long as whites, and yet still have a completely different parallel culture. IMO the reason is purely racial. They see themselves as an other, and white people return the favor. IMO any group that can't blend in will remain an other in their minds and in others minds. This is hard wired in our biology.

                The reason European immigration worked is because they either blended in right off the bat, or in the case of Italians etc not blending in with their Northern European neighbors, they CAN blend in within a single generation of interbreeding. This doesn't exist with most new immigrants, which is exactly why it will be a cluster fuck going forward. Without true assimilation all we've done is turn the country into a powder keg.

  4. The idea of any of these clowns accurately measuring "merit" is a joke. The only possible way to do that is to set up a vast distributed bottom-up network of individual decision-makers responding to individual incentives. We could call it, oh I don't know, a "market" or something.

    1. Wrecker! Kulak!

    2. ^this guy gets it

  5. There is a real need for comprehensive immigration reform. Note the word "Comprehensive". The fact is we need to think bigger that Jared Kushner and his father-in-law. The real question is what are both side willing to put on the table to work out a deal. Because we can throw out this idea or that idea forever. The question here is can we get to if you give me some of my ideas, I will give you some of yours. If we can not do that is there any point in discussing anything?

    1. We as libertarians should propose policy solutions. We're in a unique position in that we don't have a magic letter after our name (D) or (R) that inflames the other side.

      My proposal for immigration reform:
      Offer unlimited work visas which allow unrestricted travel through ports of entry. Anything short of unlimited and we're back in the same shape we are now... the black market will provide.
      The work visa requires you to pass a criminal background check. It entitles you to no welfare, Social Security, unemployment benefits, etc. It has no bearing on your naturalization status (no pathway to citizenship). You have no right to vote.

      I would even be willing to attach border security funding to appease the Republicans. Although if there were no incentives to cross the border other than to avoid the criminal background check, then border security should be much easier/cheaper.

      1. I could live with that, but this idea would never get popular support because immigration is about demographic replacement, not labor. Your policy is probably the best objective way to meet market demand, but identity politics are so cancerous at this point that everyone wants to capture those guest workers and get them voting for their party. I think the loss of gibsmedat migrants would be offset with the influx of legal workers, but I don't see these ideas getting a majority vote because they functionally ensure an ethno-nationalist agenda. The optics are bad even though objectively it's a good policy.

        1. What's amazing is that whenever I've pitched this sort of framework of a plan, I rarely get a lot of push back on it besides as you point out the politics are impractical.

          If that's the case, then why even have debate? Neither side is going to budge, you might as well get used to the status quo. Or worse even... the arbitrariness of every President doing whatever he wants through executive action, as our last two glowing examples of leaders have done.

          1. Sounds like the problem is our current electorate. I bet the people you tell about that idea are not the typical hyper-partisan voter. I used to just blame the politicians, but at this point I have to blame the people who keep these mooks in office for decades. People like that are the real impediment to reform because they're seriously convinced that it would be better to have zero non-whites in the US or zero whites in the US.

            1. Come on get real! Everybody knows the US would be awesome if it was all whites AND Asians!

              And statistically speaking, one really can't argue with it either. Highest incomes, lowest crime, highest educational achievement, etc. Somehow, even though IQ is totally a construct and stuff, the peoples who come from parts of the world where they SOMEHOW consistently score highest on IQ tests always seem to do the best, no matter where they are in the world... And the same is true for the other peoples from lower IQ parts of the world...

              But it must all be some sort of evil right wing conspiracy, because it couldn't POSSIBLY be that evolution picked different traits in different parts of the world to adapt those people to their natural surrounding or anything. Obviously mother nature would make all people absolutely identical in every way, other than a few minor exterior features... If it did otherwise mother nature would be racist! And everybody knows Gaia isn't racist, because she's hella woke.

              1. It would be better in a statistical sense, but the idea of removing problematic populations doesn't end well.

                1. Indeed. Which is why it was a mistake to allow them in in the first place. America was doomed with the 1965 immigration act really, for many reasons other than just IQ scores.

                  IMO the only solution is to break the country up, and allow people to self sort. Given how ethnic/racial political lines are, it would essentially amount to white shit libs and everybody else sorting into the socialist splinter nation, and whites and a more reasonable number of minorities wanting to stay in the rest of the USA.

                  I don't think we need to be a 100% white nation or anything like that, but I have come to the conclusion that any nation without a super majority ethno-cultural group at the helm is FUCKED. Somebody has to be steering the ship, setting social standards, etc.

      2. Your idea could be a start. For example define criminal background checks. I would allow having non-violent misdemeanors offense. If the workers get no benefits then they should not be taxed. Also we will need some level of benefits. If their kid get sick they need to go to the doctor. Workman's comp if a worker is injured. Their kids get to go to school. Educating a child is never a bad investment. We do need a pathway to citizenship for DACA and adults who have been in this country for a long period of time. I am not shipping off a grandmother who has been in this country for over 20 years. Call it amnesty but a country needs to do that every 20 or 30 years. So can you live with this?

        1. Yeah, it's a framework.

          The point is that any immigration policy that fails to address the root of the issu, that people want to come here to work, is going to eventually lead to the status quo where the black market for labor thrives. Similalry, making the details too restrictive would also lead to people weighing their options and choosing the illegal route as they do today.

          If voters would come to the realization that government can never successful eliminate human behaviors, only criminalize them, we'd all be much better off. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go.

          1. What about the idea that a policy doesn't have to be 100% effective to be worthwhile?

            We can't end 100% of rapes by passing a law, but it should be illegal. We can't eliminate 100% of cases of truly dangerous excessive speeding in cars either, but with no law, or zero enforcement we would certainly see more cases of dangerous speeding, right?

            This is my opinion on immigration. You think it needs to work 100%, when it doesn't. The fact that it is illegal deters fuck all knows how many people from even trying.

            And you ignore what the real outcome of truly unlimited legal immigration would do... We'd be flooded, very quickly, with a massive excess of low education immigrants.

            Think about this: If the standard of living fell by half in the USA, it would still be 10x higher than many nations in Africa. So why would they not want to come here still? They would. But this would be awful for native born Americans.

            Hence restricting immigration makes sense, especially on the low end. If we don't we'll be dragged down towards the global average. We don't need to perfectly manage it, because basically any shit system is better than a truly unlimited one. Even the current status quo is!

            If you want to live in a 3rd world nation, go for it! Move to almost anywhere else in the world and have fun... But I don't want the USA to be dragged down to that level, which is the inevitable outcome of open borders in the world as it exists today.

  6. (Although Kushner's plan has yet to be revealed, he seemed to imply that family ties and merit are mutually exclusive.)

    I don't follow this stuff, but I'm wondering if he implied that it just won't be a major factor in a, "points based" (Canadian) system. You could certainly implement a merit-based system and just score family ties with fewer points.

    1. Heck, I used a fiance visa to get my wife here from the Philippines. But I think we'd have had nothing to fear from a merit based system; She was a college graduate and phi beta kappa.

      1. Pretty much everywhere has spouse/children allowances... It's more about letting in some engineers useless 4th grade educated brother or cousin that is a problem.

        1. I don't think cousins are currently included under family reunification. It's usually restricted to spouses, unmarried minor children, and parents. Siblings aren't included.

          I have reason to know, my wife would like her mother to visit, so I looked into it.

          1. Getting the parents in begets the siblings, which begets the cousins, etc.

            Not that it can't take a long time and all, but that is essentially how the whole chain migration things slowly but surely does help get in pretty useless people. I sympathize with the kind of immigrants we want here... Ditching your family would suck... But at the same time, if you can't live without your family, don't move here. My ancestors ditched their family in Europe too.

  7. If anything, Canada's experiment shows the unfeasibility of determining the optimal immigration level, particularly with varying interests at play.

    But you gotta admit it makes for awesome trolling. "Hey, let's be more like Trudeau's Canada!"

    "Yeah! Wait, no! Wait... fuck, *to self*how do I spin this into a Nazi narrative I'll get back to you!"

    1. One can compare two imperfect systems and conclude that one has more desirable outcomes than the other... Canada has almost exclusively high skilled immigrants, and has far fewer issues with their immigrants than we do in the USA.

      They also allow in lots of refugees lately, and those populations are, unsurprisingly a problem. Who woulda thunk, educated, wealthy well screened immigrants have different results than illiterate refugees... CRAZY!

  8. What are Jared Kushner's credentials on this subject?

    1. That's a perfectly reasonable question to ask. And I'd like to take that question, and start ramming it down the throats of every administration ever, going backwards and forwards in a number of areas of American policy, both domestic and foreign. Including but not limited to Robert McNamara.

    2. What are the credentials of all the shitbag progtards you worship that choose to opine on the subject?

      What are your credentials for even making this, or any comment Tony?

    3. He's a super rich Jew and if you criticize him you're a Nazi?

  9. […] Jared Kushner Makes the Case for Merit-Based Immigration  Reason […]

  10. Do your damnedest, clingers, in the little time you have left.

    Your betters will handle immigration after removing the bigoted yahoos' hands from the levers of government.

    Not before the enlargement of the Supreme Court, I hope, but soon enough.

    1. Actually Arty, we’re just going to urge you progtards if you don’t leave. Prepare for your new home, in a landfill face down.

  11. Zero immigration for 3 Generations. Full Stop.

    Society is beginning to come apart. Entirely too many immigrants coming in - faster than they can acclimate.
    We need to stop, entirely, and give things time to settle down.

    Liquefaction is the key to understanding.

    1. Pretty much!

      Societies NEED a certain amount of unity to hold together... Ours is right at that point where it starts to fall apart. Unless we WANT a civil war, we really do need to make some major changes, and give people time to assimilate.

    2. Oh, come on. A sufficiently selective immigration system could actually reverse some of that damage, by selecting for immigrants who are culturally more "American" than the average American.

      The real problem is that, for some time, our nominally restrictive immigration system has actually favored (illegal) immigration by exactly the wrong sort of people; English illiterates willing to break our laws.

      1. True.

        One problem I have with that though is we'd need a HELL of a political litmus test even for white Europeans, or high skilled Asians, etc. Because their nations are waaaaay hard to the left.

        The most obvious people in the world would be white Englishmen right? As close as it gets culturally/historically/etc. There and Australia, Canada, etc. Yet even their right wing politicians are totally cucked on gun rights.

        So it would be a zany exercise to try to improve the country via immigration, in terms of politics. Not saying it couldn't be done: Only pro gun, hard right Australians allowed in! LOL But it could not be easy, and there simply isn't the political will to do anything like that anytime soon, obviously.

  12. Imagine if you will a company that decides they're soooooo wealthy, so big, and growing so fast, they will simply hire every comer, because they're quite sure they will find SOMETHING for them to do.

    Maybe in the first year this rapidly growing company may be able to put them to mostly useful tasks... But what about year 2, or year 5? Year 10? They only have so much cash coming through the door, so in order to keep hiring every new person as per their policy, they eventually have to start cutting wages for everybody so they can afford to hire the new guys. The extra people DO increase overall output of the business... But taking every person, including badly qualified people has resulted in dramatic drops in productivity per capita.

    I think you get the point. The USA can absorb lots of people, but not as many as would move here with true open borders. If we had true open borders our standard of living will crater over time... GDP would go up, but adding a person that produces $1,000 a year would raise GDP... It's not GDP that matters, it's GDP PER CAPITA that matters.

    Endless unskilled immigration can never raise GDP per capita in a world where most people are faaaaar less educated than the US average, only skilled immigration can do that.

  13. A "merit-based" system designed and run by the government is based on the notion that the government can determine which people have more potential merit. That is as hideous and dangerous an idea as I can imagine. Sounds a lot like Hitler determining who were the best Germans.
    Governments - if they have any legitimate purpose - must treat all people as equal and must certainly not be given the power to determine who will make the best Americans.

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