Immigration

Trump's Immigration Plan Could Use Some Work

Still, it's better than the administration's previous proposals to cut legal immigration in half.

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Last week, the Trump administration released the outline of an immigration plan meant to reshape how and which people are allowed into the United States. The plan would prioritize merit-based immigration and high-skilled labor over those who already have family here. Far from comprehensive or sufficient, it's a modest improvement over the administration's previous restrictive pushes.

The plan's centerpiece is a shift toward a "merit" system very similar to those in place in Australia and Canada. The reform would boost skill-based immigration from 12 percent to 57 percent, while decreasing family-based and lottery-based immigration by 50 percent. This is great news for employers in the market for high-skilled workers. Indeed, the cap for H-1B visas (for temporary, skilled workers) and employment-based green cards has not increased for many years, while the U.S. workforce has grown by 38 million since these programs' inception.

During his testimony this week before the House Committee on Small Business, my colleague Daniel Griswold advised members of Congress that in order to better serve our booming economy—especially the tech and health care industries but also future American businesses (large and small)—increasing the number of high-skilled workers is key. He suggests tripling of the number of H-1B visas to 195,000 and doubling the 1990 cap of 140,000 of employment-based green cards.

Griswold rightfully recommends that "spouses and minor children of the primary green card worker should be exempt from the cap" to preserve family units without taking away from our ability to attract more workers. Finally, he also suggests repealing the per-country quotas on green cards, which counterproductively discriminate against immigrants based on their country of origin.

The best feature of the Trump administration's plan, however, is that it would maintain current immigration levels. While this may sound like a bad approach since we actually need more immigrants, it's better than the administration's previous proposals to cut legal immigration in half.

It is baffling that anyone would seriously call for cutting overall levels of immigration. As the great professor and economist Julian Simon used to assert, people are the ultimate resource and with more people come more brains and the promise of greater things to come.

It's even more stunning to call for lower levels of immigration during an economic boom with the lowest unemployment rate in half a century. In fact, a recurring complaint from the business community is the difficulty of finding enough employees. This is true from high-skilled jobs in manufacturing to low-skilled ones in retail and the restaurant industries.

At the very least, for now, it appears that the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner is the person behind the plan and has managed to squash this destructive idea. That said, this plan falls short in many ways. Here are a few:

First, it fails to enhance the legal immigration of low-skilled workers in spite of the many studies that show the benefits of importing labor. This is the result of the president's misguided belief that—contrary to academic evidence—those foreigners who come to the United States to work as housecleaners, gardeners, construction workers, kitchen helpers, and nannies aren't good for Americans and America. Yet, in a country where wages are growing, access to low-skilled workers would help even more workers come back into the labor market.

Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal recently editorialized, "Merit systems don't measure entrepreneurship and would keep out many less-skilled workers who start small businesses like the neighborhood dry cleaner." Added to the plan's failure to streamline the guest-worker visas, this amounts to a serious opportunity cost for the country.

The administration's proposal also fails to resolve the issue with the "Dreamers," who are condemned to stay in limbo. And it does nothing to give the current illegal population—two-thirds of whom have already been here for a decade or more—a more stable and legal status.

With the Democrats unwilling to give any proposals coming from the administration a chance on the House's floor, including this one, this proposal is better understood as a political document than a serious legislative proposal. As such proposal goes, it fails to be aspirational and implement a comprehensive and needed immigration plan. Yet, it should be commended for putting an end to the nonsense about scaling back legal immigration.

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  1. The things Reason complains about in the article, like not giving a pass to current illegals, are good things.

    1. What is your evidence for this claim?

      1. That immigration and border security are a huge mess right now. Turning down the spigot for awhile let’s us better sort things out, and fix a lot of problems.

    2. +100

  2. Trump should have stuck to his guns on scaling back legal immigration. At least for a few years until we sort things out.

    1. I’m genuinely curious what “sort things out” means to you. Are you talking just border security, or something else?

      1. Oh that’s easy. He wants new immigrants to assimilate properly. And by “assimilate”, he means “vote for Team Red”.

        1. Well, if new immigrants aren’t voting in the same distribution as existing citizens, they clearly aren’t assimilating, because assimilating means becoming like natives, and the natives aren’t all Democrats.

          And it’s pretty transparent that open borders advocates want increased immigration precisely because immigrants disproportionately vote for “team blue”, (The only form of illegal immigration the last administration cracked down on was escapees from Cuba, who not coincidentally tend to vote Republican.) so are you going to argue that only one side in this fight is allowed to have political motives?

          I would think by “sort things out”, he actually means, arrive at a point where illegal immigration has been drastically reduced, and a significant fraction of the existing illegal population have been deported. The nation could accommodate a larger legal immigration rate if we didn’t have to do it on top of the illegal immigration.

          1. assimilating means becoming like natives

            No, it means “the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture.” It does not mean that immigrants become identical to natives.

            Furthermore you’ve smuggled in an “all else equal” assumption. If both Team Red and Team Blue had identical positions with regards to immigration, you might have a point. But they don’t. One team is openly hostile to immigrants, which tends to matter more to the immigrants themselves than to non-immigrants.

            It is not fair to blame the immigrants for refusing to vote for the team that despises them.

            1. One team is openly hostile to illegal immigrants. I haven’t noticed any particular Republican hostility towards legal immigrants.

              1. Oh good grief, Brett.

                YOUR OWN ARGUMENTS that essentialize immigrants down to nothing more than a vaguely-defined “culture” is insulting to all foreigners.

                1. Oh, I see, this is some sort of weird “hostility” of a kind that’s only identifiable by liberals.

                  1. So when people like you say “we don’t want you Somalis here because you bring a toxic culture to America” then you expect Somalis to happily vote for your team? And when they don’t, you blame them for “not assimilating”, right?

                  2. “I insult foreigners and then I don’t understand why they don’t vote for my tribe. It must be because those wascally Democrats promise them free shit!”

                    1. The only foreigners you speak for are the child rapists you correspond with on the dark web Pedo Jeffy. Of the many resident aliens and naturalized citizens I know, they pretty much all agree that they should adapt to this country when they come here. Not the other way around. Italian friend of mine told me that he came here specifically because he likes it here better, as we are far more productive than back in Italy. He hates socialism, and soft headed idiots like you who want to destroy everything that makes America distinctly America.

            2. ‘ No, it means “the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture. ‘

              Nice to see racebaiterjeff admit what I’ve been saying for a long time.
              Import Not Americans, Become Not America.

              I so look forward to the day when we’ve we’ve fully absorbed and integrated honor killings into our wider culture.

              racebaiterjeff hates America and thinks the less American it becomes, the better.

              1. There is no option on the table for “America remains unchanged”.

                Either it will change with a culture of openness, or it will change with a culture of paranoia and xenophobia.

                Even if we adopt your ideas and built huge walls and kept all the foreigners out, there are presumably still going to be babies born. Who are going to be “less American” than the Americans who are alive today, since they are going to be different than the Americans alive today.

                YOU need to admit that America is going to become “less American” one way or another.

                But you know what will make America WORSE? Creating a climate of fear and paranoia, and a concomitant police state to enforce that fear. Is that what you want?

                1. Pedo Jeffy, we don’t need to do a goddamn thing you think we do. You’re stupid and weak. T would be best if you just got together with Tony and engaged in a suicide pact.

        2. You say really stupid shit Jeff.

          1. Oh look it’s another drive-by ignorant insult from Jesse-poo.

            1. You really don’t deserve anything more

          2. Pedo Jeffy just comes in and shitposts on what was an otherwise decent discussion. Which is what he always does. Because he says the same stupid, discredited shit every time. Then when he gets called out he says a bunch of hyperbolic crap and calls everyone racist for disagreeing with his stupid ideas.

            He really is an argument for bullying. He needs his ass beaten until he just finally stops.

      2. Border security, and figuring out who is staying, and who has to go. We really should have tings under control, and then also Morden I’ve and streamline the process for future immigrants. Plus I’m sure once we aren’t flooded with illegals we will actually see some increased demand for a guest worker program.

        Hard to deal with all that while everything is so chaotic and out of control.

    2. Just count asylum claims against legal immigration numbers. Behavior will fox itself right quick and maybe Democrats address the issue.

  3. […] Trump’s Immigration Plan Could Use Some Work  Reason […]

  4. Where’s the Democrats plan? They were so outraged about immigration policy until they took over the house. Both sides seem to like the status quo.

    1. The Democratic Party is clearly moving toward the Koch / Reason open borders position. Whoever gets the 2020 Dem nomination, I predict that candidate will endorse open borders in rallies, debates, and TV ads.

      1. I know I shouldn’t reply to you but I think you are delusional. Even if a Dem gets in in 2020 they will not do open borders. It is just posturing and politics now. The people of the U.S. do not want open borders and the Dems know that. It just sounds good to them.

        1. No, they’ll do open borders as a policy, while pretending they aren’t.

      2. The Dems won’t embrace open borders. That’s too honest. They’ll just oppose every attempt to control immigration.

  5. Increase student visas but restrict them to STEM fields. Upon graduation, if they can secure a high skilled job, streamline the process for them to obtain a green card. Student visa priority given to female students.

    1. It’s unclear to me why our immigration policy should be designed to drive down wages of US STEM workers.

    2. Student visa priority given to hot female students?

  6. As a starting point, I would say that it’s not bad. Given Trump’s history you can bet that this is just a point to start negotiations. The Democrats would be smart to dangle some more wall money out there for increasing non skilled and seasonal worker visas.

    I could even see Trump accepting it for the money and the opportunity to say, “see look how good the economy and unemployment numbers are, we need more temporary workers!” Plus he’s already increased seasonal agricultural visas.

    1. Democrats rejected season work visas in the 2006 deal. They dont want temporary workers, they want new voters.

  7. No mention of ending all welfare is a no go.

  8. “The plan’s centerpiece is a shift toward a “merit” system very similar to those in place in Australia and Canada.”

    But in Australia and Canada, it’s not Trump proposing it. That makes all the difference.

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  10. Let people associate with whom they please without having to get permission slips from the state.

    1. You’re like a 7th grader writing a one page immigration paper.

    2. “muh anarchy”

  11. Wait–we have a ‘booming economy’?

    But you just said that Trump had destroyed the economy with all his tariffing.

    Which is it?

    1. Trade War! Trade War!

      It’s devastation everywhere!

  12. “It is baffling that anyone would seriously call for cutting overall levels of immigration. ”

    As a general rule, if you’re baffled about why somebody advocates a position, you don’t understand the position. Because, if you did understand it, you might still disagree, but you’d at least understand why some people support it.

    So, don’t brag about your own incomprehension, it’s not a point in your favor.

    1. “It is baffling that anyone would seriously call for cutting overall levels of immigration. ”
      i.e.,
      “Americans should be replaced as quickly as possible.”

  13. He’s treating it like one of those TV shows he did, where the object was to hire somebody. I need someone to sweep the floor? Well, why not get someone with a doctoral degree if all else is equal? And that’s how it is if you assume the number who’ll be let in is fixed; in that case, no such thing as overqualified, from the country-as-employer point of view. It doesn’t look like there’s the stomach in the nation to openly increase the numbers who’ll be admitted, although a little increase in admissions might be palatable if stealthy and under the cover of (especially as a byproduct of) some other change.

  14. “It’s even more stunning to call for lower levels of immigration during an economic boom with the lowest unemployment rate in half a century. In fact, a recurring complaint from the business community is the difficulty of finding enough employees. This is true from high-skilled jobs in manufacturing to low-skilled ones in retail and the restaurant industries.”

    No, it’s not. A labor shortage increases real wages.

    1. What they mean by “having trouble finding enough employees”, is that they’re having trouble finding enough at the pay rate they like.

      Indeed, as you say, an actual labor shortage causes real wages to go up, not decline.

      1. There’s a McDonald’s near me that seems to be very understaffed and has had a ‘now hiring’ sign up for a little over a year (at least, I moved here for 13 months ago). Over a year ago they were advertising $10/hour. Now? They’re advertising… $10/hour.
        They are still understaffed, yet very busy.

        1. Comcast is laying $18/hr. In eastern WA currently for entry level call center employees to take inbound calls. Of course that involves speaking English fluently, so uneducated foreigners aren’t in demand for that.

  15. Quote: “It is baffling that anyone would seriously call for cutting overall levels of immigration. As the great professor and economist Julian Simon used to assert, people are the ultimate resource and with more people come more brains and the promise of greater things to come.

    And with more people come more consumption.

    It’s baffling that you don’t recognize that people are a resource that requires other massive resources to sustain them. Our country is already up to 320 million people, and we can’t indefinitely sustain the people that are here now, much less a higher number in the future. For just one example, our country is running out of fresh water, particularly in the southwest. For our long term survival, we should be focusing on slowly getting that number down, not up. Not just here, but worldwide.

    1. Paul Ehrlich, is that you?

      1. Funny thing that. For those who don’t know, Ehrlich wrote “The Population Bomb” in 1968, predicting mass famines from overpopulation.

        What he didn’t account for, because he didn’t know, was the “green revolution” tech advances that led to massively increased crop yields. Ehrlich would have been right – if those advances were not made.

        But now world population is more than twice what it was in 1968, and the Green Revolution is petering out. The problems are a looming shortage of fresh water (California is feeling this acutely) as well as phosphorus. But anyway, famine isn’t the only problem. There are other issues like species extinction and waste disposal. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, just the amount of waste plastics we are generating is unsustainable. Technology might save us – again. But we can’t count on being lucky with that.

        1. It’s not that he would have been right “if” that didn’t happen; it’s that he was not right, just as every Malthusian before him. If you don’t understand how markets self correct to address problems, you don’t understand markets.

          The best way to address this error in thinking is to consider the underlying mechanism of why a market is self correcting. In a metaphysical sense, markets are a representation of the collective desires of all people. People, confronted with the reality of scarcity, make decisions about allocating their resources. Those decisions, which we call revealed preferences, show what people WOULD do, as opposed to what they often claim they would do and don’t follow through with (stated preferences). Inherent to the definition of the market itself, if people voluntarily make certain decisions, they are explicitly admitting that their decision is best for their situation. They are not admitting that their situation is ideal, but they are making an ideal choice for a non-ideal situation. Because people make decisions in this manner, market decisions are ALWAYS optimal for society. Some people think this isn’t true because of externalities, but externalities is just a fancy word for new factors that can be internalized and don’t fit the intro to micro supply/demand graph.

          Any time you presume that reality today will be the same as reality tomorrow and that we’re saved from our follies every time by sheer luck, you fundamentally misunderstand what a market is and how it produces societally optimal outcomes. Adam Smith called this concept the invisible hand. Neo-Marxists have greatly misrepresented us “neoliberals” as cuckoo shamans with a religious devotion to the invisible hand, but it is simply reality. Markets correct because people correct.

        2. “This time, Ehrlich will be right!”

  16. No, it’s worse. Immigration should be reduced.

  17. “First, it fails to enhance the legal immigration of low-skilled workers in spite of the many studies that show the benefits of importing labor.”

    Make sure that no low-skilled workers who immigrate are eligible for public assistance of any kind. Low-skill workers have a tendency to wallow in poverty all their lives–because they’re low-skill–we have no need to import poverty that taxpayers must pay for.

    Then we can talk about letting more in.

  18. ” members of Congress that in order to better serve our booming economy—especially the tech and health care industries but also future American businesses (large and small)—increasing the number of high-skilled workers is key.”

    Because government is about serving the economy, not serving Americans.

    Corporate Profits Uber Alles!

    1. How about government that sets and enforces essential rules, and stops trying to give shit to everyone, people or companies?

      1. How about it?

        We could stop giving US citizenship to foreigners. Works for me.

  19. Illegal alien numbers – Youve been lied to for decades!
    ALL media sources repeat the same old media/political lie of only 11-12 illegal aliens in the USA!! Whenever these politicians and their media regurgitate these numbers you will know them for their cover up!! DC politicians have been claiming 11 million for over 15 years now.
    2008 – Univision(Spanish) boasted 50 million
    2010 – Retired INS M. Cutler writes of 40-50 million would receive amnesty if granted..
    Geraldo Rivera in his stint on WABC New York would boast of 1 million illegals within NYC burroughs
    2012 – Debbie Schlussel writes of 40 million..
    2016 – Coulter writes of 60 million invaders already here

    1. Yeah, we have a real problem. And we clearly don’t need another umpteen million low education indigents from Mexico and Central/South America.

  20. Trump should stick to his guns to reduce legal immigration. At least a few years before we solved the problem. This is the thing I care about the most. https://www.larutadelsorigens.cat

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