The Corner

First Things First

Rohan Poojara at AEI has a piece calling for increases in “skilled” immigration to take precedence over concerns about law enforcement: “Stop Bickering Over Illegals, Focus On Legal Immigration Reform.” The “skilled” immigration panic is a phony one, ginned up by industry lobbyists who want to import plain-vanilla tech workers to keep wages down (see here and here, for instance). The genuinely “best and brightest” are already able to stay here, and do. (And did anyone notice that of the nine Nobel Prize winners in science fields, six were native-born Americans, two were foreigners working abroad, and only one was an immigrant — a Canadian, but still. Explain to me again how Americans are too stupid and lazy for science?)

But I wanted to make a different point: it doesn’t make sense to put aside questions of how to enforce the law in favor of new changes to the law. In other words, the first priority always has to be to put in place the commitment and infrastructure to ensure that the rules are followed before you start fiddling with the rules. Sure, “skilled” workers aren’t likely to sneak across the Mexican border, but that’s only one part of the immigration puzzle; from a quarter to a half of the illegal population entered legally (like the “skilled” workers Poojara wants more of) and then never left. It would pretty important to see that rules are followed before we debate new rules massively increasing “skilled” immigration.