Sunday, May 27, 2007

Immigration Reform

Charles Krauthammer gives a nice overview of what the new immigration bill being debated in congress will, and will not, accomplish. Here's a part of his column:

Today, preference for legal immigration is given not to the best and the brightest waiting on long lists everywhere on Earth to get into America, but to family members of those already here. Given that America has the pick of the world's energetic and entrepreneurial, this is a stunning competitive advantage, stunningly squandered.

The current reform would establish a point system for legal immigrants in which brains and enterprise count. This is a significant advance. However, before we get too ecstatic about finally doing the blindingly obvious, note two caveats:

(a) This new point system doesn't go into effect for eight years -- eight years of a new flood of immigrants chosen not for aptitude but bloodline. And who knows if a different Congress eight years from now will keep the current bargain.

(b) It's not enough to just create a point system in which credit is given for education, skills and English competence. These points can be outweighed by points given for -- you guessed it -- family ties, which are already built into the proposed new point system. There are already amendments on the Senate floor to magnify the value of being a niece rather than a nurse. (Barack Obama is proposing to abolish the point system entirely in five years.) A point system can be manipulated to give far more weight to family than skills -- until it becomes nothing but a cover for the old chain-migration system.

In our view the bill is unsatisfactory because it does not really guarantee that our porous borders will be fixed. It also grants amnesty to those who are here illegally which itself would not be a problem if it weren't for the fact that it allows illegals to eventually apply for citizenship and become eligible to dip their hands into taxpayers' pockets.

They're calling this proposal compromise immigration reform, but it's really no compromise at all. It gives the open borders advocates just about everything they want.

Our own suggestion, if I may humbly say it, is a genuine compromise and the only plan we've seen that is both just and compassionate. We offered it here last month. Peggy Noonan says much the same thing in a recent column but with far more grace and style than we could ever hope to achieve. Her piece is worth reading.