The Conservative path to immigration reform

Across the political spectrum, public figures frequently refer to the U.S. as a “nation of immigrants.” To some extent, this is almost certainly true: American history is inseparably linked to the experiences and achievements of American immigrants.

Even today, the U.S. remains the world’s most popular destination for immigration, attracting about 20 percent of the world’s international migrants. The inflow of foreign students, scientists and engineers has been a key factor that has enabled the U.S. to maintain its competitive edge in research and development.

However, to suggest that because the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, it should not defend its borders from illegal immigration is idiotic and dangerously naive. The U.S. is a sovereign nation with the means of facilitating safe and lawful migration. It is a nation of immigrants, but also a nation of laws, and there is no reason to believe these concepts are mutually exclusive.

As a first generation immigrant to the United States, the issue of immigration is one I care deeply about. My family immigrated to this country when I was 13 years old — we did so legally. American tech companies like Microsoft, my father’s employer, provide over 85,000 H-1B visas each year, and they are in high demand. Employment-based visas like these attract highly skilled individuals to come and work in the U.S., and many become American citizens. These individuals immigrate legally, usually retain well-paid jobs, purchase goods, pay taxes and peacefully assimilate into the “melting pot” of American culture.

America is a free-market society, and labor is an essential part of that market. The role of government is to facilitate this movement of labor in a way that benefits the national economy and keeps America safe. Americans of all backgrounds, including most legal immigrants, just want to see immigration law enforced in a manner that is firm but fair.

By Liam Stewart for THE OBSERVER
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