Today the editors of the Washington Post declaim confidently: “Immigration reform is back at square one. But the way forward is clear.” I don’t find it nearly as clear and this paragraph from their editorial illustrates why:
There are available solutions if Congress could overcome its horror of bipartisan compromise. The goal should be to establish a realistic annual quota of immigrant visas for Central Americans, Haitians and others desperate to reach this country who otherwise will cross the border illegally — a number that recognizes the U.S. labor market’s demand for such employees. That must be supplemented by a muscular guest worker program that enables legal border crossing for migrants who want to support families remaining in their home countries.
I support a “muscular guest worker program” and I also support “realistic annual quota” but, sadly, even if those were implemented effectively and rigorously, it wouldn’t resolve the problem. As Gallup found 750 million people would like to leave their home countries if they could. More than half of the population of the “Northern Triangle” wants to move. By far the greatest number (158 million)—greater than the next five countries put together—want to emigrate to the U. S.
Said another way there is no quota, no practical number that would result in some people not being turned away. What has blocked compromise to date is that there is one faction that is unwilling to accept any more immigrants and another that is unwilling to turn anyone away. There is no meeting of minds there.
A couple of years ago a compromise deal was available to resolve the conundrum of the “Dreamers”, the beneficiaries of President Obama’s DACA executive order. It failed because the progressives in Congress wanted to extend the order to the Dreamers’ parents (and maybe a general amnesty) and that was unacceptable to many Congressional Republicans.