No, I’m not talking about the fiscal-cliff talks, but about yesterday’s immigration vote in the House. The House passed a bill (the STEM Jobs Act) to give green cards to foreign students receiving graduate degrees in technical and scientific fields from the top U.S. research universities, offset by the elimination of the egregiously stupid Visa Lottery, which has no meaningful standards. Also, the bill would facilitate the admission of the spouses of green card holders (spouses they married after getting their green cards) without actually increasing immigration, something Senator Schumer had wanted in earlier negotiations. The net result is the same level of immigration, but shifted toward higher skills.
While I have reservations about the measure (including master’s degree recipients is just a sop to the tech firms’ thirst for cheap, controllable labor), getting rid of the Visa Lottery is important enough that this seems like a good deal. But the Democrats are balking. They’re opposing the bill — and preventing the reunification of green-card holders with their spouses abroad — precisely because it eliminates the Lottery, essentially taking a “no pasaran” stand, going to mattresses to prevent any immigration program from being allowed to end. Luis Gutierrez, one of the more colorful of the open-borders congressmen, said “If you support this bill, then you are saying that one type of immigrant is better than the otheer.” Well, yeah — not better in a moral sense but certainly better (or less bad, anyway) for the country. So there is nothing the Democrats are willing to give up for the family immigration change or the new tech program, both of which are popular with Democrat constituent groups, Hispanics and Silicon Valley, respectively.
The White House objection suggests a different fear: “However, the Administration does not support narrowly tailored proposals that do not meet the President’s long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform.” In other words, the administration fears the passage of targeted, incremental measures like this (or some version of the DREAM Act), because that would reduce the (perceived) pressure on Republican congressmen to support a broad amnesty.
This is a good position for the GOP to be in. They can argue, correctly, that unwieldy, 2,000-page laws are a bad way to make policy, and that step-by-step measures are more likely to succeed. Then let the Democrats show that it’s all or nothing for them, and see which seems more reasonable to voters.