Republicans are divided when it comes to a new Senate bill receiving the full support of the Trump administration. While many conservatives believe that it’s time to close the door on the unrestrained legal immigration programs of the last three decades, others think it’s a mistake to put in place the kind of restrictive limits proposed by the new bill. In the latter camp we have Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who seems to find every opportunity available to oppose President Donald Trump.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Flake said, “The immigration proposal that was put forward last week. I think it’s fine to move to a points system, we did that in the bipartisan bill in the Senate, but you can’t cut immigration, legal immigration in half. And so I’ll stand up against that. And the behavior in the White House as well. I mean, referring to our colleagues across the aisle as losers or clowns is just not the direction to go if we are going to solve the problems in a conservative way that we need to. So I’ll stand up every time to the president when he’s doing things that I don’t think he should be doing.”
As you can see, Flake can’t even get to the end of his paragraph without steering the conversation away from immigration and into his personal feelings about Trump’s decorum, so it’s clear that this is about something more (or less) than a policy dispute. And that’s a shame, because Republicans need to get over their kneejerk dislike of Trump’s personality and get on board with his nation-building proposals. They may not fit in neatly with the old era of conservative thought, but that’s just the point, now isn’t it? The fact is that we are doing things with legal immigration that have had dire effects on American workers, and it’s not acceptable to simply keep ignoring what those effects have been – even if corporate interests would love nothing more.
In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, the paper maligned the RAISE Act as unworkable for American employers:
Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia have introduced legislation that would eliminate the green-card preferences for parents, adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens, which in effect would reduce legal immigration by 40%. Foreigners could also apply for up to 140,000 green cards via a government admissions process that awards points based on education, language ability, age, educational attainment and job skills.
But any point system is also arbitrary and reflects the biases of politicians—namely, Messrs. Cotton and Perdue—rather than the needs of employers. Employers have a better idea of the skills they need than does the Labor Department bureaucracy.
The WSJ editorial suggests that companies will simply pack up and leave if they can’t get the cheap labor that unrestrained immigration provides them. We’ll see about that. Trump has already promised to put an end to that kind of inversion process with tariffs if need be. He can also use the full power of the presidential bully pulpit to shame companies that migrate away from America in an attempt to exploit the cheapest labor they can find. So it may not be as simple as the Wall Street Journal proclaims.
Fact is, our system of immigration has taken an unforgiveable toll on American wages, to say nothing of our cohesive strengths as a united culture. We can’t let it continue without admitting that we’re essentially giving up our identity as a nation.
Trump’s election proves that most Americans aren’t ready to make that admission.