A Rosy Scenario for Immigration Reform

In an op-ed in the Washington Post President George W. Bush presents a remarkably rosy scenario for reforming immigration. According to him there are six areas on which both Republicans and Democrats can agree:

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Controlling the border
  • Support for development in Central American countries
  • A modernized asylum system
  • Increasing legal immigration
  • Bringing illegal immigrants already here “out of the shadows”

and concludes

Over the years, our instincts have always tended toward fairness and generosity. The reward has been generations of grateful, hard-working, self-reliant, patriotic Americans who came here by choice.

If we trust those instincts in the current debate, then bipartisan reform is possible. And we will again see immigration for what it is: not a problem and source of discord, but a great and defining asset of the United States.

My own view is that the only one of those measures on which a compromise is possible is DACA and even that will be difficult despite the measure being popular in the abstract because the two political parties cannot agree on the details. What is the objective? Who would qualify? How would claims be proven? The Republicans aren’t the Republicans he remembers, the Democrats aren’t the Democrats he remembers, the immigrants aren’t the immigrants he imagines, and, frankly, America isn’t as he imagines it, either.

I found this passage from early in his op-ed laughable or, at least, grossly exaggerate:

The help and respect historically accorded to new arrivals is one reason so many people still aspire and wait to become Americans.

When was that? It certainly wasn’t from 1921 to 1965. During that period a strict quota system essentially limited immigration to Northwestern Europeans. It certainly wasn’t in the 1830s and 1840s during which both New York and Philadelphia were rocked by anti-Irish riots. It wasn’t between 1882 and 1892 when the Chinese Exclusion Act made immigration China illegal. It wasn’t during the 1930s and 1940s when the U. S. refused to accept refugees from Eastern Europe. And it wasn’t during the 1930s when migrant workers from Mexico were forcibly shipped to Mexico in boxcars including some people who had been born here. What I would say is that over the last 30 years the U. S. has been more accepting of more immigrants from more different places than at any previous time in its history.

My own view is that we are desperately in need of immigration reform but it is impeded by mutual detestation on the part of our political parties and lack of agreement on the objectives of reform.

2 comments… add one
  • jan Link

    Workable immigration reform is impossible to achieve at this time. This is because of the extreme polarization that has seized the sensibilities of those who are supposedly put in charge to run this country sensibly, and not into the ground.

    I used to think of myself as more of a liberal, especially when dealing with immigration and various social issues. However, that self-categorization has changed, as the actions and goals of the democrat party have literally gone off the rails, becoming insanely hypocritical and damaging to the country.

    DACA, for instance could have been addressed reasonably in 2017, but for the Dems not wanting to hand the president of the opposition party a policy win. Border safety, policies stemming illegal entry or their easy dispersion into the states, stopping chain migration or using a lottery system to access our country were all obstructed by the Dems. The flow of drugs, especially fentanyl, the abuse and trafficking of women and children has never been colored as an issue to be dealt with by the Dems. Instead they seem obsessed by the desire to wave everyone across the border, fan them to all corners of the country, subsidize them over the needs of needy citizens. It’s basically a wrecking ball approach, undermining us at a time when we’re trying to recoup from a year-plus of lockdowns and economic downturns, aided and abetted by no oversight, checks and balances to the Biden immigration policy – only quick EOs to eliminate his predecessors policies that actually had some semblance of working.

    Consequently, I can’t tell which is greater in me – my anger or my sadness as to how the Biden Administration is responding or administering to the gravity of what this country finds itself in today.

  • DACA, for instance could have been addressed reasonably in 2017, but for the Dems not wanting to hand the president of the opposition party a policy win

    A similar argument could be made for why immigration reform failed in 2013. House Republicans saw no short term political benefit in it. They preferred having the issue to run on.

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