The Corner

Zero Immigration?

At the risk of giving away too many details from my upcoming book (Due this summer! From Sentinel!), I actually don’t favor zero immigration, and haven’t met anyone who does. What I think we need instead is zero-based budgeting in immigration — start from zero, but then build up, adding those narrowly defined groups whose admission is so compelling that it outweighs the problems caused by the conflict between immigration and modern society. That would include spouses and minor children of American citizens, which was permitted even under the 1920s restrictions, and currently totals 250,000-300,000 people a year; a handful of the planet’s truly exceptional talents, real Einsteins, not just B+ students from Hyderabad Community College; plus some number (I’d pick 50,000, since that what Congress thought it was approving when adopting the 1980 Refugee Act) of humanitarian immigrants, which would include refugees resettled from abroad plus asylum recipients (i.e., illegal aliens demanding the right to stay due to persecution at home). That’s 350,000 to 400,000 people a year, hardly a small number, but as low as we probably can go.

I’d be happy to debate some other arrangement, but no one on the other side wants to talk about anything but maintaining the status quo (whose details they don’t even know) plus legalizing everyone who comes outside those categories. So I’ll ask those who disagree — how many immigrants do you want to take? What specific categories?


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Language, of course, is generally employed by human beings to distract or deceive. So there is much to be said for critical listening.