Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Question for Liberals

Immigration reform is thought to have a chance in the new Congress, but there's been very little substantive discussion, at least that I've seen, about what would go into "comprehensive" reform. What should Democrats be fighting for? What should they be fighting against?


  1. First I'll admit that I don't know much about immigration policy, so I'm likely to wait for elite signalling (Yglesias, Chris Hayes, Ezra Klein, etc).

    That said, I'm hoping for a large increase in the number of immigrants, both "high" and "low" skilled. This will help with economic growth in the near term and deficits in the long term.

  2. I too lack expertise, and await elite signaling. However, my main goals are:

    1. A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the US;
    2. A significant permanent increase in the number of legal immigrants allowed in each year.

    Re: #2, while I think it probably would be good for the economy, that's not my primary motivation. Rather, I think immigration is one of the best and easiest ways to improve the lives of people in poor or repressive countries. So we should support it on those grounds.

  3. I'd agree with the goals of pathway to citizenship and an increase in legal immigration. I do think that with the current economic climate a large scale increase in legal unskilled immigration will be very difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Furthermore increasing the amount of highly skilled immigrants is a policy goal that has the support of very powerful interest groups like silicon valley. I think Democrats should think of the increasing the number of unskilled immigrants as being similar to the public option. Something to go after, but we might have to abandon it in order to get other reforms through.

  4. What they should be fighting against:
    1. Inaction
    2. Any proposal that does not grant a pathway to citizenship

    What they should be fighting for:
    1. Permanent residency for those who met the requirements for DACA, the only difference being that the age cap be 65.
    2. Increased border security
    3. Increased enforcement and harsher penalties to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants after a specific date.

  5. It's not really a response to your question, but I'd like to mention that, apart from the usual issues, immigration is the simple and easy answer to the demographic problem of not enough working-age people to support the baby-boomers in Social Security and Medicare.

  6. We should get rid of the archaic 'must apply overseas' limitation to applying for immigration and visas that the Bush Administration added.

  7. We should also make sure any HB-1 or any work-related visas are employer-agnostic but not prevailing wage agnostic. They need to be being paid as much or more than their peers, and they need to be able to switch employers without fear.

    1. I like the goal of avoiding exploitation of immigrants. But would your prevailing wage proposal prevent a slightly subpar (but still useful) immigrant from finding a job at all, because their only offers were below the prevailing wage?

    2. If they're sub-par, why are they important enough for an H1B?

    3. Well, some people end up being all right but a little below expectations, in a pool of 65,000 or however many we're talking about. I guess you could just send them home, but that seems like a hassle.

      Additionally there are a variety of reasons why someone above average might end up in a lower-than-average-wage-job (maybe the job has some advantages apart from salary like benefits or a desirable location or being more fun, for example).

  8. Three major liberal elements:

    1) Significant increases in the number of immigrants, both high skilled and not, that we let into the country.

    2) A pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

    3) All the tweaks and fixes necessary to making it significantly easier for people to get visas and green cards.


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