A Collective Approach to Repairing America’s Immigration System

Conservatives can win the day if they add all these planks to their plan—and don’t trade any of them away.

On the topic of immigration, Washington has split into two tribes. One wants open borders; the other doesn’t. The odds of the disagreement ending in a bipartisan solution are about the same as Connor McGregor asking Khabib Nurmagomedov to be his best man.

Immigration will get sorted out not in congressional debate but at the ballot box. The 2020 national elections may well deliver a mandate to one side or the other. Conservatives could win that mandate if they rally round a consensus reform agenda.

To forge an appealing common path, conservatives will have to rethink how they handle the border issue. President Donald Trump has roused his base with a call to “build the wall.” Some think that’s all that’s needed and are willing to trade away almost anything to fund the wall. That would be a huge mistake.

Trump got an object lesson in tradeoffs when he offered to support continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—the Obama-era initiative that offered temporary lawful status with work authorization to young people brought here illegally as children. Though some GOP politicians would have gone along with it, Trump’s base was having none of it .

Clearly, on the amnesty issue, Trump cannot afford to compromise. Yes, security demands that there be more wall on the border. But a solid plan immigration reform agenda wouldn’t sell the farm to buy more seed corn.

Trump has drawn so much attention to this one requirement that the cacophony around his demands has drowned out discussion of all the other stuff that’s needed. An effective reform plan needs to make the case for more than additional “wall”; it should address all the elements that make for a more secure southern border.

By James Jay Carafano for THE NATIONAL INTEREST

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