Immigration Romanticism Unleashed

by John Derbyshire

I’ll also pick nits with the immigration aspects of last night’s debate. It was, as usual, low-grade stuff.

Romney:  This is a party that loves legal immigration.

What does that mean? Legal immigration, a.k.a. “immigration,” is a policy area. A party cannot love a policy area. Compare: “This is a party that loves defense.” Okay, but how is our defense policy to be oriented? To what ends? How much shall we spend?

Or: “This is a party that loves agriculture.” Great. Does the candidate favor farm price supports or not? If he favors them, does he favor them at current levels, or higher levels, or lower ones? Targeted at which product areas?

Romney’s answer was fatuous. Perhaps this is a party that loves fatuity.

Gingrich: I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century.

Who has proposed any such thing? How does it destroy a family to tell them to go back to their nation of lawful citizenship? Has someone proposed forbidding deportees to take their family members with them? Who? When?

A quarter century ago would be … let’s see … oh yes: 1986. That’s when Congress passed Simpson-Mazzoli, the bill that opened the floodgates to illegal immigration. By granting amnesty to those already here, and making promises about enforcement that the congresscritters had no intention of keeping.

Santorum:  We’ll not only have the innovation, which I support, coming from legal immigrants, but we’ll have that money trickle down to blue-collar workers …

See, there are these vibrant, smart, thrusting, innovating immigrants, and there are the dull-witted mass of, you know, Americans (ugh!) who are incapable of anything much but blue-collar drudge work. Gotta get those immigrants in here! Gotta give ‘em green cards!

This nation has three hundred and ten million citizens. In all that number, there isn’t enough talent to keep the economy humming? There aren’t enough innovators to keep us a technology leader? Funny, there used to be.

Here’s a suggestion in re high-skilled immigration: Permit settlement by foreigners qualified in a field when the economy indicates strong unfilled demand for workers in that field. Criteria might be: Five successive years in which median wages in that field rose by at least ten percent each year and college enrollment by citizens looking to enter that field rose byless than ten percent each year. That’s cold, un-romantic economics: but there must be a lot of citizens just as fed up with immigration romanticism as I am.

Romney:  Secure our border, protect legal immigration, and return to a system that follows the law.

That was precisely the sales pitch for Simpson-Mazzoli. Fool us once …

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