If Dems win the WH and Senate, perhaps a surprise in immigration policy?

Trump’s immigration policies may be wrong but they are at least coherent. If the Dems take over Washington, I speculate that their approach to immigration might become more coherent. What shape will that take?

For some years, I have perceived that there is an underground consensus among liberals and conservatives on several aspects of immigration. First, that immigration needs to be more regulated. Jerry Kammer uses that word in his extremely valuable 2020 on immigration, Losing Control. There is an unexpressed feeling among the great majority of persons who pay attention to immigration that, for a country of immigrants, it is shameful that there is no coherent management of immigration.

The second shared but unexpressed consensus is that the unauthorized population needs to be normalized into legal status.

Then there are two ways in which a new consensus may emerge under Dem control.

First, it will emerge that key part of the Democratic constituencies want to limit low skilled immigration. Bernie Sanders has spoken that way. Kammer in his book reviews the misgivings in the organized labor community about low skilled immigration. Hispanics are ambivalent about low skilled, illegal immigration. With Dem control of Washington, it will be politically safe for some Dems to discuss this openly.

Second there is a slowly but then perhaps quick to emerge consensus, that immigration policy must be framed more in response to global trends, of which I see two major ones: the huge amount of skilled talent in the world, and the rise of China as a peer competitor. An immigration policy which addresses these trends will be relatively inclusive and relatively more focused on skilled immigration.

Get Kammer’s book. Lots of good stuff, including how Chuck Schumer screwed up immigration reform in the 1980s and 2010s.

One thought on “If Dems win the WH and Senate, perhaps a surprise in immigration policy?”

  1. Low skilled immigration is generally understood to include farm work. But we have relied on immigration for significant amounts of farm work since the country’s founding and even before. Slavery was predominantly related to farm work. In southern and western states, farm work has always relied on immigrants to perform significant farm work. Every time there has been an effort to attract Americans to do farm work, it was found that immigrants generally worked harder and more productively for lower pay than Americans have been willing to accept and under conditions that Americans consider too awful. Generally big farmers in California and Arizona look at so called low skilled immigrant farm workers differently than farmers in the east and south and north. So I am not ready to agree with the idea that low skilled immigration needs to be controlled when there is little evidence that Americans are willing to do that work.
    I also contend that we can make the same argument about immigrants engaged in caring for people in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and in support roles such as janitorial and domestic services.
    The contention that low skilled immigrants are “stealing jobs” from those born here is questionable at best. But that contention underlies the so called consensus that we need to better control so called low skill immigration.

    Sometimes consensus does just means there is widespread agreement – but that does not mean the consensus “solution” is the correct answer to the correct problem.

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