As a writer new to High Faluter, I’m not sure what the standard on responding to our fellow writers should be. Just to be safe, I’ll adhere to New York Times columnist rules, and say that some have argued that Trump’s new immigration plan is a good idea; suffice to say, I disagree with colleague PS Lancaster.
It’s What Canada Does!
With the steady stream of outrages coming out of the White House these days, it’s easy to miss any given one, so it’s useful to recap what Trump’s new immigration plan is.
“Trump’s” plan is the workings of Stephens Bannon and Miller, the administration’s go-to racists, who have thrown the President’s support behind a bill by Senators David Perdue (R-Georgia) and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas). According to press reports, the bill would drastically cut down both on the number of immigrant visas granted, and the classes of immigrants they’re granted to:
The Real Goal Is to Reduce Overall Immigration
This is a short, but critical point: the goal of this policy is to reduce the absolute number of immigrants coming to the United States. The rest of the changes, though real and meaningful, are just window dressing. The Trump administration’s core constituency is a faction of the American right that fundamentally opposes immigration, and this policy delivers on the policy goals of people like Steve Bannon who are clear that their preferred number of immigrant visas is zero.
It is impossible to honestly evaluate this policy without considering that context.
You’re Still a Person Even If You’re Not an Engineer
But, you may respond, shouldn’t our immigration policy work for the benefit of Americans and the US economy? Yes and no. For yes, see the section below. For no: of course people should still be granted visas even if they’re not a doctor.
Under current law US citizens and permanent residents can request visas for certain family members. Trump’s policy would limit these visas to spouses and minor children. That’s what talk about “skills based” immigration is trying to disguise, that under this plan your parents, siblings, or grandparents are considered to have no value to the US unless they have a great new idea for a tech start up. This is the enactment of a philosophy that says the United States is meant for two groups of people: people who were born here, and people we can get something out of.
This Policy Intentionally Ignores The Benefits of Immigration
With that said, it’s perfectly reasonable for the government to consider the needs of the country when crafting immigration policy. The US could use more people with medical training, for example. Laser focus on the economic merits of individual visa applicants, however, is not how you use immigration policy to advance national interests.
The literature on immigration is pretty clear at this point: it’s good. Immigrants can help depopulated areas regain their former vibrancy. Immigrants are more likely to start businesses. Immigrants increase the wages of native born citizens.
Cutting immigration like this policy would is actually a great way to harm the US economy. According to Pew, but for immigration the US working age population would decrease in the coming decades. Population declines have serious negative economic effects.
When he’s not yelling about the statue of liberty, Stephen Miller pretends to be worried about the “deskilling” of the US immigrant population. But don’t let his concern trolling fool you; he doesn’t care about the economic impact of immigration, because if he did he would be taking the exact opposite position. He cares about 2042.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2017, it’s that the American right will consistently lie about their motivations to build support for unpopular policies. They’ll tell us they’re concerned that health insurance premiums are too high, and then support a bill that would raise them. They’ll tell us Russia is our largest geopolitical foe, and then nominate a Kremlin asset for the presidency. And they’ll tell us they have a smart fix for our immigration system, when they really just want to shut it down.
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