Glenn Beck, a staunch supporter of 2016 candidate Ted Cruz, asked an immigration policy wonk Monday which presidential hopeful has the best policy when it comes to illegal immigration.
His answer — none of them. Instead, the analyst said U.S. policymakers need to look back to the 1950s, when then-President Dwight Eisenhower instated "Operation Wetback" along with his guest-worker program.
In an interview with CATO Institute Immigration Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh Monday, Beck asked, "When you're looking at the building of the wall and the stopping of illegal immigration, which I believe we have to do, is anyone out there presenting a serious option that is truly workable?"
Nowrasteh, who described himself as libertarian, was quick to tell the conservative show host that, as it stands right now, he does not see a "serious proposal" from any presidential candidate when it comes to immigration reform.
In order to find the correct solution, Nowrasteh suggested looking to Eisenhower's days in the White House. Though the way "Operation Wetback" was carried out has been the subject of much criticism, Nowrasteh said the government would be wise to take up a more robust guest-worker program, similar to that which accompanied Eisenhower's deportation effort.
According to Nowrasteh, it was the guest-worker program that was the "more important" part of Eisenhower's immigration policy.
"I think, ironically, that the Eisenhower way of dealing with the guest-worker program was the best way to do it," he said. "And I hate to admit this as a libertarian, but you can't regulate a black market."
Nowrasteh argued that, in order for the immigration system to recalibrate and operate smoothly, the U.S. "needs a guest-worker visa program that works to be able to control the border," something he said the United States currently does not have.
Beck agreed with his analysis, adding that "we just need to know who's in here."
"This is kind of what I've been saying for a long time — make the door wider and easier to get in," Beck said. "We just need to know who's in here and where they're going — that's all we need. That was the Eisenhower solution."
Beck said that Eisenhower's policies were successful because it "kept people on their side of the border, but coming in here to work and then go home."
By the late 1950s, illegal immigration dropped by 95 percent, as Nowrasteh noted, "because the illegal immigrants realized that they could work legally if they just followed the rules." Additionally, American-based businesses began hiring Mexican immigrants because it was legitimate, instead of on the "black market."
As for why no one is looking to Eisenhower, Nowrasteh said it comes down to a lack of understanding when it comes to the laws surrounding immigration.
"I think a lot of us in the libertarian, free market sphere, a lot of times, realize that, oftentimes, the reason bad laws are broken is because they're bad and we just need better ones," he said. "I think there's a reflexive enforcement reaction to this, and that's understandable, but I think the proper course of action is to widen the gate."
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