On Immigration, Trump Really is Offering Something for Everyone

If you’re having a hard time figuring out the immigration debate, don’t be surprised. The Peloponnesian War was less complicated.

There’s a great deal of talk in every direction, but it really comes down to three different sides.

The status quo, first. That’s what we get if nothing changes. Which means our current chain-migration system in which immigrants can sponsor their immediate and remote family members (about 600,000 people a year) remains. That suits the Democrats just fine, since the new arrivals overwhelmingly vote their way when naturalized.

We wouldn’t get the wall Trump wants, but the border would nevertheless be less porous than it was in Obama’s time. No more catch-and-release, an energized border patrol and just maybe something can be done about the sanctuary cities and states.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the Republican restrictionists. They want less immigration. At the extreme their motto is “none is too many.”

They condemn Trump’s proposal for immigration reform as an amnesty, likening it to the 1986 Reagan amnesty.

Finally, there’s a group that thinks the problem is quality, not quantity. If an immigrant is a net positive for Americans, why not admit him? Why leave 20 bucks on the table? It’s called the Canadian merit system, and it’s something Trump has said he likes.

That’s where I’m coming from, but, Trump aside, there aren’t too many people who like the pure merit system. Sometimes the Wall Street Journal sounds like this, but then the Journal also gives off the impression it never met an immigrant it didn’t like. Sometimes Sen. Tom Cotton sounds like this, but then his RAISE Act would also cut the number of immigrants in half.

What the merit system has going for it is a racially neutral commitment to helping Americans. Unlike the status quo favored by the Democrats, it doesn’t impose a cost on native Americans. And unlike the restrictionists, it doesn’t leave money on the table. If we added one more person who makes the rest of us better off, why not do it?

By F.H. Buckley for NEW YORK POST
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