Former Governor, Ambassador, and Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman had some thoughts on immigration in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. His heart is in the right place, but his thoughts are incomplete and naïve.
Huntsman rightly points out the importance of immigrants to our nation’s economy and to our freshness of thought. He also rightly reviews past mistakes we’ve made vis-à-vis immigration—the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1907 Gentleman’s Agreement, the 1924 Immigration Act, among others.
But he offers nothing concrete in the way of a solution beyond the usual “need to improve our visa system” and “need to recruit immigrants.” But he does add this:
Such initiatives won’t only bring talent here—they will allow us to deny it to our competitors.
Sure. Immigrants are pieces of meat, or tools to be used to our advantage and against other nations in a zero sum game.
Cue Bill the Cat. This drivel is of a piece with the Progressive claptrap that says all blacks must be Democrats or they’re traitors to their race, that gays must be Liberals, or they’re self-hating…whatever.
No. We should be welcoming immigrants because they’re human beings who want to make something better of their lives and their families’ lives and they have something to offer our nation—not because they have something to offer.
Note, though, that the visa games Huntsman rightly decries do need to stop; this is an important component to real immigration reform. But there’s far more to this than just putting paid to some visa quota nonsense. We need to make it much easier for folks who want to come here to do so easily. The delays in getting visas need to be eliminated. The visa system needs to be simplified: there really only needs to be three kinds of visas: residency, visitor, and business. And I’m not convinced three categories really are necessary. All categories should offer a path to citizenship, but that decision should be take-able by the immigrant (or resident alien, if he just wants to live here) at any time, or never, without impacting his visa.
It needs to be far easier physically to cross our borders, too. Entry stations should be far more closely spaced, and not at all limited to urban areas. This, just incidentally, will severely hamper human trafficking as the mules (and worse) will find their services needed far less.
But legal entry into our country is only one leg of the stool of immigration reform. Sitting opposite that easy entry is a need to tightly secure our borders. There really are folks who want to enter under the radar because their hearts are not pure and their goals are nefarious: drug traffickers and terrorists come to mind. Accordingly, it ought to be hard to enter without a visa and at any place other than a check point. This will require improvements and expansion in border patrols, surveillance equipment, and so on—and not just at the borders, but in depth.
And the third leg. What do we do about the illegal aliens that are present? Justice—to Americans, to aliens who have entered legally (maybe especially to them, since they’ve grunted through our Byzantine entry mazes and still got in legally), to existing immigrants—demands that the illegal aliens not be given a pass. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D, IL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) both have partial solutions that are worth building on in this area.
Most importantly, and making reform harder to do, all three legs of this reform must be done together. No one of these is sufficient, and if less than all are done, the imbalance will just blow up the effort.