Now that Trump has decided that the target for the total number of immigrants is unchanged, why don’t we just fix immigration:
- Family unification is a good thing, but it has taken too much of the total, now 70%.
- It’s sensible that some fraction of immigrants should get in based on special capabilities or other demonstrable merit. (It’s worth noting that the current system is actually not so bad in that respect.)
- It’s also sensible to have some fraction of immigration that is not so constrained. You never know who’s going to be a hero, and diversity has value. Moreover past immigrants mostly came from places where they were denied opportunities for such merit. So a lottery system has value too.
As a default, divide it up 1/3 for each and call it even. Otherwise negotiate the limits for a while and then call it done. (As an interesting variant, Canada handles family unification with relationship points in the merit index.)
- We need to settle DACA once and for all, because there is no value to anyone in not doing it. Since we’re talking about merit, these are upstanding, fully-adapted, English-speaking contributors.
- For the rest of currently undocumented immigrants, we had a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in 2013. That can still be a basis for work. These people are almost all working and paying taxes.
This isn’t so hard. It only takes the will to do it.
There remains the question of enforcement. For that, the problem is that we’ve been postulating solutions without any serious analysis. Politicians shouldn’t be arguing about this. (Border control was never wild about the wall until they were told they”d better be.) There needs to be an independent assessment of how money should be spent to enforce the law.
However one thing that is definite is that there is no excuse for mistreatment of desperate people looking to escape overwhelming problems for themselves or their families. We can’t satisfy them all–immigration law is there to say who gets help–but that’s no excuse for treating them all as criminals or worse.