There’s a lot to discuss in the immigration issue. But what is going on at our border is not an immigration issue. It’s an invasion orchestrated by cartels and smugglers and is an emergency national security issue. Now is not the time to shift debate to the visa system, as important as that issue might be. The president doesn’t need a new legislative proposal to protect our border, and his sole focus, at least in the immediate future, should be using existing national defense and immigration law to combat the cartels and shut down all immigration processing at the border.
I have nothing against the president’s latest immigration plan, largely spearheaded by his son-in-law. If we could press a magic button and make it become law, there would only be positive benefits with no downsides. By all accounts, it appears that the bill, which has not been fully drafted yet, would close the border loopholes and abolish the diversity visa lottery and much of chain migration. Rather than pocketing the much-needed cuts in immigration numbers, though, the proposal calls for backfilling the exact same level of immigration with a higher-skilled “merit-based” criterion. While it’s disappointing that there are no cuts, it’s still much better than the status quo, which is not merit-based at all.
The problem is that it’s just not what the doctor ordered. It’s like a person who has a leak in his roof, but then a river floods his basement. While the roof was certainly important to focus on the day before, it is a moot issue unless he deals with his basement first. Trump campaigned on getting rid of chain migration. But family-based legal immigration is simply not nearly as severe as the illegal immigrant chain migration pouring over our border and all its fiscal, health, and national security concerns. Moreover, the latter can and must be dealt with using current law, while fixing the former requires Congress, something that will never happen at this point.
Therefore, to make this debate about a “comprehensive” look at the immigration system rather than the loss of our sovereignty at our land border, with all its perilous cascading effects on our society and security, is definitely a huge distraction. While moving toward a merit-based system is important, rather than expending his political capital on cutting chain migration and allowing the media to change the conversation to legal immigration, Trump should be giving a speech on a plan to shut off the border flow using his powers under 8 U.S.C 1182(f) and other aspects of current law.
While Kushner’s plan would include border fixes, the main discussion and focus will now be on the visa system: a major distraction in our current emergency.