The Corner

Immigration

Rand Paul’s New Bill Would Increase Employment-Based Immigration ‘Nearly Fourfold’

Senator Rand Paul speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., December 4, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Most of the immigration talk today has involved Elizabeth Warren’s new plan, which would deliberately scale back immigration enforcement and make it easier to come to the U.S. on the basis of “family reunification.”

Senator Rand Paul’s idea is better, but not great either.

His new bill, the BELIEVE Act (seriously), is essentially a competitor to the Fairness for High Skills Immigrants Act, which I discussed here earlier this week (and which passed the House Wednesday). Both address the clumsy “per-country caps” for green cards that make it far easier to join the U.S. from some countries than others, and that disproportionately hurt higher-skilled and higher-paid immigrants.

As I mentioned in my previous post, killing those caps without fixing some other aspects of the immigration system could have unintended consequences, so a broader bill would be preferable. Paul’s bill is indeed broader, but not always in a good way.

As David Bier of the Cato Institute reports, Paul would double most of the employment-based green-card categories, raising their total from 140,000 to 270,000 — and on top of that would exempt spouses and minor children from the limits, which in effect doubles them again, for a “nearly fourfold” increase. Those working in “shortage occupations” designated by the Department of Labor, a list that now includes only nurses and physical therapists but could expand via new regulations, would be exempt as well. Unlimited green cards would also be available to “any foreign graduate of a U.S. unviersity who ever entered as a child of an E, H, or L temporary worker and lived in the United States for an aggregate period of at least 10 years.” “Employment authorization to spouses and minor children of temporary workers” is tossed in for good measure.

There would be no cuts to the family-based categories to compensate. We currently hand out a bit more than a million green cards a year. Just by back-of-the-envelope math, quadrupling employment green cards by itself would have to hike that number somewhere around a third.

As I’ve pointed out numerous times, higher overall immigration levels are not what Americans want. (Neither are lower levels.) The goal should be to shift the mix of immigrants toward the higher-skilled, not to hike high-skilled immigration while leaving everything else the same. When D.C. can show the American people that (A) the border is under control and (B) the legal-immigration system is serving the national interest by admitting the very best immigrants available, perhaps we can have a discussion about expanding the latter. Not until then.

Most Popular

Elections

Bernie Is Not Normal

The most substantively outrageous presidential campaign in American history has some serious chance of success. Bernie Sanders is leading or near the top of most polls in the first two Democratic nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire. He could plausibly win both, which would instantly transform the race ... Read More
Elections

Bernie Is Not Normal

The most substantively outrageous presidential campaign in American history has some serious chance of success. Bernie Sanders is leading or near the top of most polls in the first two Democratic nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire. He could plausibly win both, which would instantly transform the race ... Read More
PC Culture

Women Lie Too

Elizabeth Warren says Bernie Sanders once told her that a woman couldn't win the presidency. Bernie Sanders says Elizabeth Warren is lying about the encounter. I have no idea whom to believe. Some notable people on Twitter have wondered if maybe, considering all that happened during the #MeToo movement, ... Read More
PC Culture

Women Lie Too

Elizabeth Warren says Bernie Sanders once told her that a woman couldn't win the presidency. Bernie Sanders says Elizabeth Warren is lying about the encounter. I have no idea whom to believe. Some notable people on Twitter have wondered if maybe, considering all that happened during the #MeToo movement, ... Read More
Media

Our Stupid Times, Etc.

I don’t think most people who read the news are too stupid to understand the news. I think they are too dishonest. I am frankly embarrassed that we’ve found it necessary to append a note to Zachary Evans’s report on anti-Semitism to emphasize that quoting a person to illuminate his sentiments does not ... Read More
Media

Our Stupid Times, Etc.

I don’t think most people who read the news are too stupid to understand the news. I think they are too dishonest. I am frankly embarrassed that we’ve found it necessary to append a note to Zachary Evans’s report on anti-Semitism to emphasize that quoting a person to illuminate his sentiments does not ... Read More
Elections

The Democrats Have Had This Primary Before

As of this writing, the Democratic presidential contest looks very fluid, with four candidates bunched up in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the sudden relevance of foreign policy, thanks to the confrontation with Iran, has made it look more and more like a two-person race between Joe Biden and Bernie ... Read More
Elections

The Democrats Have Had This Primary Before

As of this writing, the Democratic presidential contest looks very fluid, with four candidates bunched up in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the sudden relevance of foreign policy, thanks to the confrontation with Iran, has made it look more and more like a two-person race between Joe Biden and Bernie ... Read More