The Corner

Thou Shalt Not Be Comprehensive

While sailing the Caribbean with the NR cruisers drowning their sorrows in liquor, I was delighted to see that two of the Senate’s most stalwart defenders of conservative principle, Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, are back to work on amnesty “comprehensive immigration reform.” What could go wrong?

The editors are right in their observation that “Our immigration system is in need of deep reform, but amnesty is not the first item on intelligent reformers’ to-do list, if indeed it belongs on the list at all.” And whatever reforms we do make should avoid comprehensiveness like the plague. Whether we’re looking to reform immigration or health care or the tax code or environmental policy, significant but easily digestible chunks of reform would seem to be the way to go, both because they’re easier to explain to the public and easier to implement.

This is why I’m sympathetic to the kind of thing Maggie mentioned as a “first cut” at both fixing the immigration system and helping “persuade Latinos who are open to the conservative message that we understand their problems and don’t hate them.” She suggests a modified DREAM Act combined with what she calls a “mom visa,” allowing naturalized immigrants to care for elderly parents so long as they do not become citizens and create no costs whatsoever for the taxpayer. The mom visa (which would obviously have to be a mom-and-dad visa) is something Numbers USA has championed for some years, as a replacement for all the family immigration categories other than spouses and minor children. This would break the cycle of chain migration but still allow people to care for aged parents.

Such a DREAM Act-plus would have to include something like Lamar Smith’s E-Verify bill, which passed the House Judiciary Committee earlier in this Congress. Such a package would be big enough to be worth doing, offer something for a variety of actors, and yet be compact enough that we wouldn’t have to pass it to learn what’s in it.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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