May 19, 2024

obvious immigration solution

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective                                                                     
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The obvious immigration solution
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift         
          WASHINGTON — The crisis at the border is the top issue for Republicans, who blame President Biden for responding too little too late to the unprecedented number of migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
          Democrats are not happy with the border either. They think Biden is caving into political pressure and ready to throw his party’s progressives under the bus.
          Yet, there is something both sides could agree on if only they took the time to ask these questions: Why do all these people, millions of them from every corner of the earth, want to come to America? And why for much of our country’s history have we welcomed immigrants?
          The answer should be obvious. We need workers; immigrants need jobs. The solution is equally obvious, but first a brief history.
          It was not all rosy the way some history books tell it. Some people came documented, others undocumented. Some people – slaves and indentured servants – were brought by force. Others were inherited when the nation expanded as occurred with the Indian Wars, the1803 Louisiana Purchase, the 1846-48 Mexican-American War, and the 1898 Spanish-American War. With industrialization the need for workers grew dramatically, and Ellis Island was opened from 1892 to 1924 to process more than 12 million immigrants.
          Then came the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression that followed, and these events plus a concern about Communist influences brought immigration to a near halt.
          Meanwhile the scourge of racial, religious, and ethnic bigotry undermined the welcome mat. For example, the 1845-1852 Irish Potato Famine forced people to flee their native land. This coincided with the Mexican-American War, and many young Irish men were promised bounties and land if they joined the Army but were so mistreated that many of them deserted and joined the Mexican Army. Enticements were also extended to Chinese immigrants who helped build the railroads but were then deported under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.
          Today, U.S. unemployment figures are the lowest in 50 years, and once again American businesses cannot find enough domestic labor. Hence, people are braving the Mexican desert, mistreatment by coyotes (guides), and an unknown reception as they seek new lives in America to better themselves and their families. And as with most populations, they are neither saints nor sinners, but mostly ordinary people seeking to survive.
          Former President Trump has excoriated undocumented migrants, a travesty in the eyes of his critics since his own family has benefited mightily from U.S. immigration laws. Melania Trump came to America on a specialty Einstein visa that allows people renowned in their field to move ahead in the line.
          The exception is meant for scientific researchers and Olympic champions and for someone like Melania, who was a model from Slovenia when she first came to New York. She was approved for the Einstein visa in 2001 and was able to sponsor her parents for citizenship as well.
          In New York City, migrants wait hours outside in the elements hoping to be one of the lucky few who are granted a work visa, however temporary it is. This is the solution in plain sight. America needs to dramatically increase the number of work visas. We need not call them permanent. They could be renewable every year or two, then after five years of solid, legal work history, there should be a path to citizenship.
          This will not fix the entire crisis at the border, but it can serve as the primary element in a rational immigration program, the other elements being vetting and processing those fleeing persecution. And finally, the borders must be made secure, and we have the means and personnel, if not the will, to do it.
          Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2024 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *