Monday

November 20th, 2017

Insight

Changing Our Open Door Immigration Policy

Bruce Bialosky

By Bruce Bialosky

Published August 14, 2017

Who needs Games of Thrones when all one needs to do is watch a White House press conference? President Trump endorses the RAISE Act put forth by two U.S. Senators (Cotton and Perdue), that is meant to create legislation regarding just one facet of our immigration policy, and the world goes off its axis. What would happen if we confronted our national challenges regarding this issue?

Mr. Trump campaigned on shutting down the inflow of illegal people principally from our Southern border, but has met resistance on measures proposed for accomplishing his goal. Forget his silly campaign pledge of having Mexico pay for the wall. There are three ways to cut the flow of illegals into this country:

  1. Scare the dickens out of them and they will not come. That appears to be working to some extent since Mr. Trump ended the cavalier attitude of his predecessor toward enforcing our border laws.
  2. Construct a barrier (wall, fence - whatever you want to call it) that deters people from coming in.
  3. Hire more patrol guards to catch those who are coming illegally from doing so.

Even if you are an open borders person, you should endorse steps 2 and 3 as we have serious problems with criminals (MS-13, for instance) and drugs (heroin, cocaine and fentanyl) flowing in and harming our citizens. Yet Mr. Trump has met heavy resistance to doing both 2 and 3, largely from people saying neither is necessary. I would love to hear their solutions, as there never seems to be any except charges of racism.

Then comes a real proposal by two U.S. Senators which is endorsed by the administration. It is a starting point for discussion on one of the central aspects of how many people should be allowed to become members of our community - the United States of America.  

The rules really go back to the mid-1960s. First, President Johnson killed the Bracero program in 1964. It was originally initiated in 1942 and then expanded and successfully operated, allowing temporary workers to fill needs in certain seasonal industries. Johnson killed it to win the backing of unions in his upcoming election. Though the numbers had slimmed down, the numbers of participants reached over 400,000 in some years. If businesses have temporary employment needs, why did we never reestablish this program? It is because of continuing union resistance.

The Immigration Act of 1965 changed the flow of immigrants from being based on country of origin to focused on skills and immigrants' family relationships. That may have worked in 1965, but the world has changed a tad since then.  

Not only did we have 194 million people in 1965 versus 325 million now, but also our needs have changed. Our economy is largely skills based and our under-skilled people are already losing their jobs to machines, giving them fewer options just to find a job. No amount of training programs will solve all of that. It has not yet; why would it in the future?

Stephen Miller shows up to answer questions on this preliminary proposal that needs to work its way through committees in both the House and Senate, to the respective bodies, to a conference committee, back to the House and Senate and then the President's desk. Miller answers questions for 28 minutes. They were mostly just tough questions from the White House Press Corp. They did skip essential and basic questions. For example, why was the level of 500,000 legal immigrants chosen?  Why did they choose to emphasize knowledge of the English language as a key skill?  

Miller starts the press conference for five minutes explaining calmly, plainly and coherently the proposal which alters the existing program by establishing a points-based system including skills, will they be paid a high wage, can they speak English and will they be immediately employable. The point system mirrors one established in Canada and Australia.

Let's first address the English speaking rule (which is not all determining). This is not the 1880s. English is the language of the world. My wife and I are near traveling to 70 countries.  We have only once have had a problem - in Japan - which is fascinating because every one of the Japanese studies English in school.  We were told it is a cultural thing; they do operate a fairly closed society.  At least they speak the world's other most important language - baseball.

Our favorite story comes when I surprised my wife and took her to Cabo San Lucas for a big birthday. On her actual birthday we did something very unBialoskyish. We went to a straight- out-Mexican restaurant and did shooters. But through the haze of the tequila I noticed that even the busboys spoke very clear English. The next night we went on a sunset cruise which was run by an American expat. I inquired why that was. He said, "because if you do not speak English in Cabo you don't get a job." I observed that I wished that were so at most restaurants in Los Angeles, where you better know the Spanish word for water or you may go thirsty.  

As for how many people around the world speak English: we just visited a country (India) that probably has more English speakers than we have in our entire population.

Yet, a reporter went after Miller because of this and his perception of why the French built and gifted to us the Statue of Liberty. What was skipped over in this highly-unprofessional encounter with Miller was the reporter's biggest act of unworthiness; He told the story of his father arriving in the U.S. in 1962 as a refugee from Cuba. Thus, we should base our public policy 55 years later on his family's experience at that time. Maybe we have become unhinged. At least a new term entered our lexicon from this encounter - cosmopolitan bias. 

It is clear that there is a certain element of our society that has obliterated the distinction between illegal and legal immigration. Their use of terminology such as "undocumented workers", and their reflexive hysteria upon use of the legal term, "illegal aliens", accentuates that desire. Most frequently, they just use the term immigration with zero differential between the two facets, acting as if there exists a universal right to take up residence in our country.  

Addressing the issue of how many new immigrants we should have each year, could someone explain to me why in the state of California such a high number of people who work for our tax agencies not only are foreign born, but speak less than comprehensible English? Is it because these are jobs no Americans will take? Maybe as part of this discussion we can do a study of what jobs these immigrants are taking to provide background as to how many we should bring into the country and with what skills. Wouldn't that be rationale policy?  

We are at historic highs in the history of our country for legal immigration. This has been going on for 25 years. We might consider higher levels of legal immigrants, if we did not have so many illegal immigrants. That needs to be discussed. For 50 years the means by which we have prioritized our immigrants has been one way. Does that way still make sense? These are vital questions for all of us to review and answer. This has nothing to do with race, gender or religion, the fallback position of the weak.

Our Congress needs to commence a responsible, grown-up discussion. The future of our nation depends on it.  

 

Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.

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