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Common Sense Approach To Immigration Reform

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Is there an American citizen who believes this nation should have open borders and lax immigration laws? Whether one considers the security, economic, and social factors of a perennially broken immigration system, the consequences for the future of America are deeply troubling.

The social welfare safety net is sagging at a breaking point with the nation staring at  an astounding national debt load of $20.5 trillion dollars (US Debt Clock calculation at 4.15 pm on 11/2/12017). Violent Islamic-related terrorist attacks often dominate news headlines in the U.S. and abroad with the recent one only days ago in New York City where an Uzbek national, Sayfullo Saipov, plowed through a bike lane with a rented truck killing or injuring 20 victims. (See Saipov Entry through Diversity Visa Program) Then there was Ohio State, Santa Barbara, the New York/New Jersey bombing, St. Cloud/Minnesota, Orlando/Florida, San Bernardino/CA, Chatanooga/TN, Brooklyn and Queens/NY, Moore/OK, Boston/MA, Ft. Hood/TX, Little Rock/AR, etc. All these violent attacks over the past 8 years after 911.

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton recently authored an outstanding essay on immigration which appeared in the Hillsdale College Imprimis Digest last month. Actually the essay was adapted from a speech he gave in Washington last September. The essay should be read by every thinking American because Senator Cotton has introduced an immigration reform bill called the RAISE ACT (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy) which during the Trump presidency may have a good chance of fixing the broken immigration system in America if it passes into law .

Cotton is the U.S. Senator from Arkansas (2014 – present). He served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He graduated from Harvard College Claremont Graduate School and  from Harvard Law School in 2002. He served as a U.S. Amy officer In 2005, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, rose to 1st Lieutenant, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He received the Bronze Star Medal.

He refers to the many years of Democrat and Republican policies regarding comprehensive immigration reform, nothing more than code words for amnesty, mass immigration, and open borders in perpetuity. He believes immigration policy is of the highest importance for the nation because it “touches upon fundamental questions of citizenship, community, and identity”. We know politicians from both parties frame the immigration “problem” in mostly political terms while their doublespeak for public consumption address the human and social factors of the problem.

Sen. Cotton draws attention to the chasm between political globalists like Obama and the writings of the founding fathers who saw American  citizenship  as embodying one nation, one people calling for the establishment of a “uniform rule of naturalization”, a process where foreigners renounce their former allegiances and become American citizens.

But cosmopolitan elites believe the nation should “effectively erase our borders and erase the distinction between citizen and foreigner”. To these progressives it is un-American and anti-immigrant for  barriers to be erected on the border. Sanctuary cities should protect illegal immigrants who should never be deported while American businesses should  be allowed to import as much cheap labor as they want. The distinction that Pat Buchanan makes between “fair trade” and “free trade” is lost to globalist elites.

Sen. Cotton calls to mind Madison’s words while debating the first naturalization law in 1790: “It is no doubt very desirable that we should hold out as many inducements as possible for the worthy part of mankind to come and settle amongst us, and throw their fortunes into a common lot with ours.” The purpose of immigration in Madison’s thinking then was that immigration would bring about a desirable end for the American people by increasing the wealth and strength of the community. I might add that America should not and cannot be the first or last resort welfare agency for the whole world forever. It appears to me common sense dictates that we take care of our 326 million citizens and residents first.

To understand the history of American immigration policy, Sen. Cotton refers to key landmark events when the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 was enacted  limiting immigration followed forty years later by the Immigration and National Act of 1965 which again opened the floodgates. Both eras characterize  the periods of surge-and-pause in our immigration history.

Sen. Cotton believes President Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 Act was wrong because it ” opened the door to mass immigration of unskilled and low-skilled workers, primarily through unlimited family chain migration”.

Approximately a million immigrants land on our shores annually and the vast majority don’t come with special skills and work visas but simply because they are related to an immigrant. Cotton elaborates:

“In sum, over 36 million immigrants, or 94 percent of the total, have come to America over the last 50 years for reasons having nothing to do with employment. And that’s to say nothing of the over 24 million illegal immigrants who have come here. Put them together and you have 60 million immigrants, legal and illegal, who did not come to this country because of a job offer or because of their skills.”

Senator Cotton questions the notion that immigrants come to this country to do the jobs Americans don’t want to do.  He admits he detests this sentiment because it’s not true and it’s insulting to millions of Americans who work at jobs elites find distasteful and beneath them. Because of family chain migration, two thirds of green cards go to relatives forcing highly skilled, talented immigrants to wait in line for years.

Highlights of the RAISE ACT:

  • Create a skills-based points system similar to Canada’s and Australia’s
  • End the preferences for most extended and adult family members—no more unlimited chain migration while continuing to admit spouses and unmarried minor children of citizens and legal permanent residents
  • Eliminate the so-called diversity visa lottery, which hands out green cards randomly without regard to skills or family connections, and which is plagued by fraud
  • Remove per-country caps on immigration so that high-skilled applicants aren’t shut out of the process simply because of their country of origin
  • Cap the number of refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year, in line with the recent average for the Bush era and most of the Obama era—and still quite generous

A compromise between the unconstitutional DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and RAISE:

“Pair any attempt to codify DACA with reform of the green card system to protect American workers. A stand-alone amnesty will not do. Nor will an amnesty with vague promises of “border security,” which never seem to materialize or get funded once the pressure is off Congress. But if we codify DACA along with the reforms in the RAISE Act, we will protect working Americans from the worst consequences of President Obama’s irresponsible decision.

Senator Tom Cotton has provided a valuable service to the American people by developing a rational, conservative-minded approach to solving the broken immigration system that has bedeviled our society for decades. While there are many complex factors that play a role in exacerbating  this critical national crisis, simple solutions to complex problems often are overlooked by the intellectual elites of our country. This essay is an important contribution to the national debate on immigration policy. Every clear thinking American patriot should read it.

Immigration in the National Interest by Sen. Tom Cotton

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