‐ “And here to speak for the party of diversity, inclusion, women, people of color, and a bold embrace of the future is . . . some guy named ‘Kennedy.’”
‐ Last summer, President Trump said that he wanted Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired. The White House counsel said he would resign rather than carry out the plan, and Trump backed off. So reported the New York Times, and the White House has disputed it only vaguely. The episode illustrates that Trump can be reckless (firing Mueller would have caused a crisis for Republicans), that his aides try to protect him from himself, and that his commands are not meant quite as seriously as most presidents’ are. The usual suspects are, however, maintaining that Trump assaulted the rule of law and suggesting that the aborted firing should be an article of his impeachment. Legislators are discussing bills, of dubious constitutionality, to protect Mueller from firing. Who will protect him from his hysterical fans?
‐ In his State of the Union address, President Trump rattled off an impressive list of accomplishments, from tax cuts to reform of veterans’ health care. He highlighted Americans who had done heroic things. He laid out an immigration proposal with many positive elements that few politicians in the past have gone near (see editorial below). But beyond immigration, he did not have much to say about how Republicans will busy themselves in 2018. We already knew Trump likes infrastructure investment. What we need to hear, quickly if he wants action, is how he proposes to get more of it. We didn’t. Nor did we hear what kind of paid-family-leave policy he wants, or how he wants to lower drug prices or combat opioid addiction. Neither he nor the congressional GOP has much of an agenda and, worse, they don’t seem to think it’s a problem.
‐ The House Intelligence Committee, headed by California Republican Devin Nunes, voted to release a four-page memo written by the committee’s staff. This initiated the process to declassify the document, and then release it. Republicans who have already seen the memo say it relates disturbing abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department against the 2016 Trump campaign. The obloquy heaped on Nunes for his trouble has been extraordinary. The same Democrats who cheered every splashy leak of classified information to the New York Times during the Bush years now allege that releasing the memo will be a grave offense against the intelligence community. John Heilemann of MSNBC has insinuated that Nunes might be a Russian agent. But the point of the congressional investigations into the 2016 election controversies should be to generate more public information rather than less. Release the memo, and let the public reach its own conclusions.
‐ Senate Democrats briefly shut down parts of the federal government in an attempt to force Republicans to enact an amnesty for illegal immigrants who came here as children. The Democrats folded when Republicans agreed to consider legislation on the subject on a short timeline: Government funding runs out on February 8, so Democrats can try another shutdown. The Democrats also got something they wanted from the bill: a six-year extension of the children’s-health-insurance program, no reforms attached. But they appear to have been taken aback by the fact that a lot of reporters straightforwardly said that the Democrats had shut down the government. Evidently the shocks of the Trump era are not yet through.
‐ In 2008, Burns Strider, the faith-outreach adviser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was accused of a harassing a 30-year-old female co-worker (Strider, then 42, reportedly rubbed her shoulders inappropriately and sent her suggestive emails). Strider was told to get counseling and docked some pay, but kept on; the young woman was reassigned. Clinton’s first reaction to the story when it recently broke was to issue a report from a law firm, which had all the warmth of a meat locker (“When matters arose, they were reviewed”), though she later tweeted that she had called the woman “to tell her how proud I am of her. . . . We deserve to be heard.” So the modern Joan of Arc stuck with the horn-dog, unleashed lawyers, and uttered banalities. This, times a thousand, was just what Mrs. Clinton did in the ’90s.
‐ Steve Wynn is the latest powerful man to be accused of serial sexual predation. A Wall Street Journal report alleges that the casino mogul repeatedly coerced women who worked for him into sex. For years, Wynn used his deep pockets to evade scrutiny, in one case paying a manicurist $7.5 million to settle her complaint. Wynn is a major donor to the GOP and, before the story broke, was the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel says that Wynn’s donations will be returned, but only if an investigation finds him guilty of wrongdoing. When similar reports emerged about Harvey Weinstein, McDaniel said it should be a no-brainer for her Democratic counterparts to return his “dirty money.” This shouldn’t be difficult: Neither party should associate itself with louche and unsavory men such as these, no matter how wealthy they are.
‐ In 1995, Barack Obama, a budding Illinois politician, attended the Million Man March organized by Louis Farrakhan. Obama’s post-march statement was reasonable: “African-American men [need] to come together. . . . But cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done.” A picture outweighs a thousand words, however. In 2005, when Farrakhan met with the Congressional Black Caucus, Senator Barack Obama posed with him for a smiling photo. A congressman, unidentified, asked the photographer, Askia Muhammad, not to print the shot. And so it was not printed, until last month, a year after Obama left the White House. Farrakhan of course is notorious for preaching that white folks are the result of a prehistoric breeding experiment conducted on the island of Patmos by the evil Dr. Yakub. Hillary supporters and Republicans would have been happy to run with such a photo in 2008, but a lensman’s discretion deprived them of the opportunity. It’s good to have friends who toot your horn — and who mute it.
‐ In 2002, Congress used a voice vote to approve a bill prohibiting the killing of infants who had been “born alive.” There was almost no opposition to a ban on fully delivering a fetus and then killing him as a method of “abortion.” The House has just passed a follow-up bill requiring abortionists to hand over infants born alive to hospitals, requiring hospital employees to report violations of the law, and imposing penalties up to five years of imprisonment for intentionally killing these infants. It should have been as uncontroversial as the earlier bill. Yet all but six Democrats voted against it, and one of the six said he had meant to vote against it but got confused. Hubert Humphrey said that the moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn of life, the twilight of life, and the shadows of life. The Democratic party he championed is long dead.
‐ Cecile Richards has led Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, for twelve years. She is leaving the job, and the New York Times ran the headline “Cecile Richards on Her Life After Planned Parenthood.” Lucky for her she gets one.
‐ The Trump administration has announced the creation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Health and Human Services Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The division will accept reports from citizens about potential violations of conscience and religious-freedom rights and enforce existing federal law to protect those rights, including prohibitions on forcing doctors and nurses to participate in abortions, sterilizations, and assisted suicides. Far from targeting certain individuals for discrimination, as some progressive critics have claimed, this division will work to protect First Amendment rights for all Americans, regardless of their faith or beliefs.
‐ Sometimes the Trump administration thinks “America first” means putting U.S. interests over the interests of multilateral organizations and the Davos gang. And sometimes the Trump administration thinks “America first” means protecting American consumers from the threat of . . . excellent washing machines being sold at attractive prices. President Trump has announced punitive tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels on the theory that these imports hurt U.S. producers and their employees. Maybe they do, though Trump does not seem to appreciate that a great share of the Americans employed in manufacturing washing machines work for foreign firms such as Samsung (which will build 1 million washing machines in Newberry, S.C., this year) or that the manufacturing of solar panels represents a tiny slice of the U.S. solar-power business, which is heavily reliant on imported components. Tariffs perform two functions: One of them is to subsidize less competitive domestic firms by allowing them to raise their prices, and the other is to pay for those subsidies by imposing a sales tax on U.S. consumers. The Trump administration has it right on tax and regulatory reform, which will have important long-term effects in making the U.S. business environment more competitive. Tariffs make the business environment less competitive, fattening politically connected firms and industries at the expense of American consumers. It’s a great deal if you’re the CEO of a solar-panel manufacturer, and a raw deal if you’re not.
‐ Since the beginning of the year, Americans have been subjected to a concerted attempt by the gun-control movement to mislead them as to the scale of gun violence in their country. A headline in the New York Times summed up the newest lie: “School shooting in Kentucky was 11th of the year. It was January 23rd.” This was not true, at least not unless one dramatically recasts what is meant by “school shooting.” The statistic to which the Times and others were referring was contrived by Everytown for Gun Safety. Among the “school shootings” listed were a police training accident in which nobody was hurt; two suicides; an incident in which a BB gun was shot at a school bus; a shooting near, but not in, a California college; and the murder of a university student at a nightclub. Just two of the events reported fit the description of “school shooting”: a shooting at a Texas high school in which one person was injured, and a shooting at a school in Kentucky at which two were killed and 18 were injured. That, of course, is two shootings too many. But two is not eleven. It is bad enough that from time to time disgruntled young men walk into schools and attempt to murder their classmates without political opportunists’ inflating the truth.
‐ President Trump handed out eleven Fake News awards, to mark his first year in office. Some of them were fun (footage showing Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe feeding koi as much fish food as his supposedly clueless guest); some of them were fun, but would be unwise to push too far (Paul Krugman said the stock market would never recover, but who wants to tie himself to an ultimately uncontrollable number?); some refer to matters that remain to be fully explained (the Russian-collusion story). But why is the president saying this himself? Has he no vice president? Richard Nixon if possible disliked the press even more than Donald Trump, but it was not he but Spiro Agnew who spoke of nattering nabobs of negativism.
‐ No sooner had people heard of Jordan Peterson than they decided he was a dangerous extremist. Peterson is a psychologist at the University of Toronto who has amassed a sizeable following from his books and self-help videos. His commentary carries a political edge: Peterson advocates free speech, criticizes identity politics, and has become a sort of father figure for his mostly young, mostly male followers. For this, Peterson was accused of “whipping people up into a state of anger” by the British journalist Cathy Newman. Though Peterson is not quite the sage his fans make him out to be, the criticism he is enduring is manifestly unfair — perhaps because the things he says are manifestly reasonable.
‐ In response to the Republicans’ overhaul of the federal tax code, the California legislature has announced its intention to raise the state’s corporate rate. If it follows through, businesses in California will see around half of their savings from the federal tax cut eaten up by Sacramento. In the press, this news has been reported as California’s “fighting back” against the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. But in truth no such thing is happening. If California goes through with the move, it will not be doing anything much to the federal government; instead, it will be using its powers as a state to make a decision that affects Californians and nobody else. As is not the case with the federal corporate tax, any revenues produced by California’s hike will be revenues that will stay in, and be spent in, California. The Golden State’s folly will be all its own.
‐ Sometimes, politics moves beyond parody and into the dark plains of the Twilight Zone. In California, lawmakers are currently attempting to impose a six-month jail sentence on waiters who bring plastic straws to customers who haven’t asked for them. That’s not a typo: The bill would sanction six months in jail for those who have been convicted of providing an unwanted plastic straw. How, one has to wonder, does such a profoundly immoral idea bubble up in the first instance? Research conducted by Reason’s Christian Britschgi revealed that the impetus for the provision — the claim that Americans use 500 million straws per day — is the result of “research” that was conducted over the telephone by a nine-year-old and then spread by the recycling company Eco-Cycle. Rarely has the term “straw man” had so much literal and figurative resonance.
‐ It is dangerous for Russians to rally against Putin’s rule, as inmates past and present can attest. But thousands did exactly that on the last Sunday in January. They braved not only arrests but icy temperatures as well: In Yakutsk, not far from the Arctic Circle, it was 50 below. In Moscow, the leader of the opposition, Alexei Navalny, was violently arrested. At his headquarters, two of his supporters were doing a webcast. You could hear sawing or drilling in the background as the police were breaking in. The two webcasters continued calmly. Such Russians are indeed brave, more than most of us can know. Through all this, the White House was silent, but America should extend encouragement and sympathy to Russians seeking a freer, more democratic life.
‐ It happens without fail. Every military victory in the Middle East unlocks a new set of challenges. And so it is with the American-allied victory over ISIS in northern Syria. Even as Americans partner with Kurds to clean out the last remaining pockets of jihadist resistance, Turkish troops have launched an operation against Kurdish militias in Afrin, a city in Syria’s northwest corner. Turkey has long considered Kurdish rebels to be terrorists and direct threats to Turkey’s territorial integrity. At the same time, Kurds have been invaluable American allies in the fight against jihadists in Iraq and Syria. For now, Washington seems to be attempting to thread a difficult needle — granting Turkey limited freedom of action along its borders while still maintaining partnership with the Kurds. Complicating matters even further, there’s a substantial American military presence in Syria, and if Turkish troops penetrate deeper into Syria, they may encounter American troops. Thus, American patience with the Turkish incursion has its limits. Any conflict between a NATO partner and a military ally is fraught with strategic dangers, and the fact that it takes place in perhaps the most volatile nation on earth only compounds the peril. A deft but firm hand is needed to halt the Turkish incursion without empowering the worst elements of the Kurdish militias.
‐ “I think my life is worth nothing compared to a tear from the eye of a twelve-year-old girl who has been raped.” So speaks Abdullah Shrim, who is 43, a beekeeper by profession, a Yazidi by identity, and brave and true by deed. There are perhaps three-quarters of a million Yazidis, and since time immemorial, this ethnically Kurdish minority has been settled in Syria and Iraq, practicing religious rites compounded from Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. In one of their most brutal crimes, the jihadis of the Islamic State drove these people from their homes, killing hundreds of men and capturing thousands of women and girls, whom they have trafficked as sex slaves and prostitutes. Abdullah Shrim has recruited helpers to locate the many who are still missing and he has raised funds to pay the costs, which may be as high as $15,000 per person. Jihadis surviving in pockets of Iraq and Syria have executed five of these men and one young woman, and Shrim himself receives frequent death threats. So far, 338 women owe their liberation to him. Comes the hour, comes the man.
‐ To have had the Red Army occupying the country leaves its mark on national character, witness the Visegrad Four, an Eastern European bloc consisting of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, all of them in the hands of politicians somewhere between touchy and angry, saviors to some and bogeymen to others. The president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, has claims to be the angriest, and certainly the rudest. Prime minister from 1998 to 2002, he was elected president in 2013. He became a public figure when he advocated treating some woodlands conservationists in the “good old medieval way: burn them, piss on them, and salt them.” He wonders aloud whether Muslim extremists might blow up the Castle that dominates Prague. He resents the orders to surrender independence one way and another that come via the German chancellor Angela Merkel and the Brussels bureaucrats, threatening to have a referendum on quitting the European Union. Oh yes, he’s just been reelected.
‐ In China, the Vatican has demanded the retirement of one bishop and the demotion of another in the non-government-approved Catholic Church to make room for two bishops the Chinese state has appointed to the official Patriotic Church. This move has drawn criticism from some who rightly note that it undermines the underground Church in China, the leadership and members of which are routinely persecuted by the government for practicing the faith outside the confines of the state-sanctioned Church. Though proponents of the deal argue that it is an important step in cementing a diplomatic relationship between the Catholic Church and the Chinese government, it seems more likely that, given the country’s history of religious persecution, this move will result in the Communist Party’s wielding greater influence in the Church.
‐ In 2011, a civil court in Chile found that a Catholic priest sexually abused teenagers in the 1980s. Churchmen and laypeople there widely believe that a certain bishop enabled him. In Chile, the globetrotting Pope Francis defended the bishop and implied that his accusers lied. The local faithful shook their heads and objected. On the plane back to Rome, after a weeklong trip during which he created turbulence and sowed ill will, Francis apologized to the victims of the abuse but then returned to defending the bishop. Oh, and a few days earlier, on a flight from Chile to Peru, he married two flight attendants in a ceremony that appeared impromptu and unserious. Later, explaining how it wasn’t, he made it sound like a media stunt. He should have stayed home. John Paul II became a rock star on a perpetual worldwide concert tour and was good at it. Francis isn’t. His inner circle should remind him of the tradition that the pope leaves Italy never and speaks to the public rarely. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” a devout Catholic once noted.
‐ If he has just tested a nuclear weapon and the missile to deliver it, the rational dictator would inhibit and confuse everyone afraid of a strike by making a move suggesting peaceful intent. Lo and behold, that is what Kim Jong-un has done: He has agreed that at the Winter Olympics to be held at Pyeongchang in South Korea, the women’s ice-hockey team will have players from both countries. This is a first. In 1988, the previous occasion when the South hosted the Olympics, the North made its opposition plain by blowing up an airliner. In the contest outside women’s ice hockey, a concert that a North Korean orchestra was due to give in the South has been canceled, and athletes from the South are not to be allowed to train in the North. Kim does want unification, but only on his terms. In the South, a survey carried out under the auspices of the government-sponsored Unification Institute found that 47.1 percent of those in their sixties were in favor of unification, but only 21 percent of those in their twenties were. A women’s ice-hockey team is all very well as a token of Korean unity, but that’s not enough to give credit to a dictator whose malice is a matter of extensive record.
‐ The French republic was born in rioting and has romanticized civil unrest ever since: Manifestations are to the French as marching is to the Irish or tailgating to Americans. The causes have ranged from police shootings and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to unwanted education reforms and even ridesharing apps. So what was the spark for the latest round of unrest? Nutella. When the Intermarché grocery chain slashed its prices for the crude-oil-resembling chocolate-hazelnut goo, gourmands rushed to snap up as many jars as they could. Supplies in stores quickly ran low, shoppers kept streaming in, and pretty soon it was sauve qui peut. Why did no other grocery chain match the price? In France, merchants are allowed to discount their list prices only at specified times of the year, with violators subject to fines (Intermarché is being investigated for violating these regulations). So all it would take is a modest dose of laissez-faire and the French would have to find something else to protest.
‐ A social-networking site enabling athletes with Fitbits or other GPS-enabled workout devices to log their routes has accidentally revealed valuable and highly classified information about U.S. military operations. In November, Strava launched its “global heat map,” an aggregate of its 27 million users’ athletic activities superimposed on a map of the globe. If you ran in a block around your house, for example, your route would show up as a dark blue line on the map, and the more times that route was logged, the brighter the line would become. Here’s another example: If you were a military serviceman and you patrolled the perimeter of your base in the middle of Afghanistan with your Fitbit turned on, your blue line would betray the location and size of your base. This is the discovery a 20-year-old Australian student made when zooming in on blobs of color in the otherwise dark Syrian desert. Defense experts have pointed out that even though the locations of many bases are known, the highly specific patterns of activity Strava has layered over a blurry map are valuable information about what goes on at the bases. After the student opened the Pandora’s box, Twitter users confirmed suspicions that the military was building a base in northern Syria and discovered a Patriot missile system in Yemen. Understandably, military officials say they are working on a fix.
‐ When Donald and Melania Trump asked the Guggenheim Museum to loan the White House Landscape with Snow, an 1888 Vincent van Gogh masterpiece, for display in the Trumps’ private living quarters, chief curator Nancy Spector offered an insult as an alternative. “Should the President and the First Lady have any interest in installing it,” Spector wrote in an email, the Trumps could borrow America, the name of an interactive, fully functioning, 18-karat-gold toilet “created” by artist Maurizio Cattelan, which the Guggenheim had placed in a public restroom on the museum’s fifth floor. (Yes, patrons could avail themselves of the golden chamberpot’s services.) America, of course, was a satirical critique of American capitalism, income inequality, and all our national sins. The incident is evidence of the decline in our civic culture. Perhaps the president should have been content with the White House’s already-extensive art collection. Perhaps the Guggenheim should have acted with more class.
‐ Dr. Larry Nassar, former physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after an astonishing 156 women testified at his sentencing hearing that he had abused them when they were aspiring girl athletes under his care. (Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct; he had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for possessing child pornography.) The vortex of his fall has consumed men and women who should have reined him in: The president and athletic director of MSU, and the board of USA Gymnastics, have all resigned under pressure. Power worshipped success, defenseless bodies were violated, innocence destroyed. The only fit words may be Christ’s: It were better that a millstone were hanged about their necks, and they cast into the sea.
‐ According to the NFL, an ad from American Veterans bearing the words “#PleaseStand” isn’t allowed to run in the Super Bowl program because the Super Bowl has “never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.” Uh, since when? The NFL was far less shy during last year’s event: First, there was the Budweiser spot, released days after President Donald Trump announced the travel ban, that told the story of the struggle the company’s immigrant founder faced to come to America. Then came the Airbnb ad, titled “We Accept,” that contained the line, “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.” Finally, there was an Audi commercial, which the Washington Post praised highly, depicting a father wondering how he can tell his daughter that the world doesn’t value her as much as it values men. Seemingly, the NFL’s rule is less about blocking ads that carry a political statement than about blocking those that carry a certain kind of political statement.
‐ A journalistic adage holds that “Dog Bites Man” is not news, while “Man Bites Dog” is. A case in point comes to us from Boscawen, N.H. Police there cornered a scofflaw with an outstanding warrant in a trailer, and when he tried unsuccessfully to hide beneath a pile of clothes (somehow that never works as well as it should), Agent K9 Veda advanced and attempted to apprehend him. At this point, according to an official account, the undaunted perp “put K9 Veda in a chokehold and bit her in the head,” but Veda soon gained the upper paw, and the fugitive was taken into custody. As one officer commented, “If you get into a biting competition with a police dog, you’re not going to win. They’re pretty good at that.” Granite State criminals, beware.
‐ “I have been asking for thirty years why most critics are afraid of dragons while most children, and many adults, are not,” wrote Ursula K. Le Guin. She was a defender of dragons as well as spaceships — an author who believed that fantasy and science fiction should be taken seriously as literature rather than consigned to a literary ghetto. Her own work helped make the case, as she became one of her generation’s most accomplished novelists in both fields. A Wizard of Earthsea, published in 1968 and later expanded into a series, tells of a boy who goes to wizard school; influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien, it was a forerunner to the Harry Potter tales. Her best-known book may be The Left Hand of Darkness. Hailed by feminists, it describes a race of androgynous aliens. Le Guin’s books were intellectually charged, full of anthropological detail, and always challenging. Dead at 88. R.I.P.
‐ Mort Walker contributed to the happiness of American life, and beyond. His comic strip Beetle Bailey ran in 1,800 newspapers around the world. It showed us life at Camp Swampy, where Private Bailey did his best to irritate Sergeant Orville P. Snorkel, otherwise known as “Sarge.” They were all under the command of General Amos T. Halftrack, who was assisted by the shapely Miss Buxley. The humor in Beetle Bailey could be gentle or sharp, and sometimes a combination of the two. The strip was a daily chuckle for millions. Mort Walker created other strips as well, including Hi and Lois. A kid from Kansas City, he has died at 94. We salute him, with a hint of a Beetle slouch, in tribute.
‐ Paul Bocuse, a leading light within the nouvelle cuisine movement, died in January at 91. Bocuse, a Frenchman, was a giant in his field. Not only did he receive the Culinary Institute of America’s coveted “Chef of the Century” award, he also put his imprimatur on his own honor, the world-renowned Bocuse d’Or, which over time has become a de facto “World’s Best Chef” marker. Bocuse’s flagship restaurant in Lyon, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, is one of a handful to have received three Michelin stars. Notably, a significant number of the others are run by former students of his. Bocuse died in the same place he was born: the small apartment above his beloved restaurant. Some among us are put here for a reason.
The DACA Deal
Nancy Pelosi says the White House’s immigration proposal is “a campaign to make America white again.” Actually, it is a serious and genuine attempt to get 60 votes in the Senate by finding common ground with moderate Democrats.
President Obama provided a unilateral and temporary amnesty of 700,000 illegal immigrants who came here as minors. The Trump White House proposal would make the amnesty permanent and codify it into law — and would expand it to 2 million people by including those who were eligible for Obama’s program but did not apply for it. These so-called Dreamers would have a pathway to citizenship, which Obama did not give them. In exchange, the proposal would provide more resources and legal authority for border control and would reform the legal-immigration system.
We are not enthusiastic about the larger amnesty. Our objection is not to the offer of citizenship, contingent on certain conditions: If we make the collective decision that these people should stay in the U.S., we should strive to make them fully assimilated members of American society. But an amnesty this large will be a real administrative challenge to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is also a break from what has been a fundamental principle of immigration hawks: A functioning system of enforcement should be established before any amnesty potentially draws more illegal immigrants here by sending the message that they, too, might be able to stay. The gains in enforcement and a tighter legal system would have to be substantial to make this concession worthwhile.
The White House wants a $25 billion trust fund for border enforcement and new resources for immigration agencies, and changes in law. The little stuff here — all aimed at ensuring that when we catch illegal immigrants at the border we can detain them and send them home — is much more important than a wall itself. It would, without a doubt, put a further crimp on illegal immigration.
On the legal side, the White House wants to eliminate the visa lottery and end the reunification of extended families known as “chain migration.” (Immigrants could still sponsor their spouses and minor children.) These represent large-scale reforms to the system that would, if immediately implemented, quickly reduce the number of green cards issued by a third or more. Contrary to Pelosi’s racial demagoguery, it is entirely possible that white people would make up a smaller portion of our immigrant inflow under the proposal.
But because the possibility of Congress’s signing up for such a rapid change seems remote, the White House is proposing, in effect, to phase in the reforms by working through the current backlog of extended family members seeking visas. (The details of how this would happen would matter a lot.) It may take ten years to clear this backlog, which raises the worry that the reform would never happen. If the White House proposal became law, however, a future Congress and president would have to enact any alteration. It’s not clear when immigration hawks will again have the chance to make even such a slow-fuse change in the legal-immigration system. The window may be completely shut after the November midterms.
As it is, even this compromise may be a bridge too far for the Senate. If so, we still believe that the cleanest, best deal would be a trade of a smaller codification of DACA for a mandatory E-Verify system to keep employers from hiring illegal labor. The White House is, understandably, trying to figure out a plausible way to go big; there would be no shame in going small, and pocketing a key enforcement priority while regularizing the status of people who, in many cases, know no home other than the U.S.