Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Minority Whip, sat down with Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham on Wednesday night to discuss immigration and the steps both Congress and the White House needed to take towards changing the laws. The Louisiana Republican said that it was time to move past schemes like the Diversity Visa Lottery to a “merit-based” system that would bring the world’s best and brightest into the country.
“Right now,” Scalise said, “we’ve got some of the dumbest laws on the books. If we educate somebody in America to be a computer scientist or engineer, we force them to leave the country to compete against us. Meanwhile, we’ve got the visa lottery. Why don’t we flip that narrative?”
Scalise noted that things weren’t always like that. He said America should return to a merit-based immigration system that would not only embolden the rule of law, but that would “ultimately get back to those basic foundational principles where you come to America to seek the American dream.”
He said that while he didn’t expect far-left Democrats from New York and California to embrace such a system, there was still a chance that moderates from the heartland would work with Republicans to modify the existing laws.
Well, we’ll soon see.
The White House unveiled its new plan for immigration on Thursday, and there appears to be very little hope that it will draw bipartisan support. Not only are liberal Democrats unlikely to support the plan, which calls for more border wall construction, but even some hardliners on the right see trouble in the administration’s proposed visa overhaul.
“This plan is out of touch with the president’s base,” fumed Center for Immigration Studies president Mark Krikorian in a National Review op-ed. “The proposal will not include any reduction in the overall level of legal immigration, not even a symbolic one.”
The proposal will, however, shift the focus of invited immigration away from its current target – the family members of those who are already here – to a skills-based program. At the moment, only about 12 percent of immigrants qualify to come to America based on their merit. More than half, meanwhile, get permission to enter because they have a relative in the country. Trump wants to do just what Scalise said – flip those numbers in the hopes that we can get a higher quality of immigrant population.
Whether it’s a good plan or a bad plan is almost a moot point. Democrats are determined not to negotiate with this president on immigration or anything else of even vague interest to his supporters. Until they come around – or are roundly defeated in the next election – the idea of any meaningful immigration progress is pretty far-fetched.