Immigration reform! Why is it that I don’t care? Greg Sargent and the guys over at The Plum Line tell me that I should care. They seem to think that something will happen. (They also think that something is still going to happen on gun reform, so decide for yourself.) Today, Sargent reported on a new report from the Heritage Foundation that is meant to kill immigration reform. But he notes that the Republican establishment is pushing back on this. So maybe we will get actual immigration reform after all.
I have a couple of problems with this. First, the good thing in the bill is not very good. It offers a ridiculously arduous route to citizenship that will take at least 13 years to accomplish. And with all the details—background check, proof of residency before a certain date, paying of back taxes—it will just be impossible for a lot of people. And those who can do it, are likely looking at a lot longer a time than 13 years. But I’m okay with this; it’s not very good, but it is something.
The problem is all the conservative sweeteners that are being offered up for this long and winding road to citizenship. In particular, we are looking at a huge increase in the indentured servitude program known as the H1-B visa program. As I reported two weeks ago, there is no high tech worker shortage. This is just an effort by the government to bring down the wages of high tech workers.
Then there is the whole “secure the boarders” aspect of the law. This just seems like an effort to militarize the border. Plus there’s lots of room for conservatives to claim that the border is not (Ever!) secure so there can be no pathway to citizenship. I can well imagine seeing Republicans on Fox News saying, “As long as there is one person getting over the border, it is not secure!” (They’ll probably start complaining about sea traffic.)
But the fact is that the Gang of Eight bill is the most liberal it will ever be. Once it goes into the House, who knows what will become of it. I’ve already reported that they want to increase the path to citizenship to 15 years, because whatever is on offer, they must make it worse. By and end, it could be no better than my recent modest proposal.
So I’m not very excited about immigration reform. I suppose I would take the Gang of Eight bill if it were on offer. But it is a close call. And we might be best off waiting a couple of election cycles and seeing if we can get a much better bill.