Guy W. Farmer: Merit-based legal immigration needed

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Illegal immigration and “open borders” advocates almost went into collective cardiac arrest earlier this month when President Trump announced new LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigration policies. Let’s never forget to distinguish between immigrants who do it the right way — like my late wife, Consuelo, a native of Mexico — and those who violate our laws and sovereignty by sneaking across the border.

As usual, the illegal immigration advocates quoted the outdated Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty inviting the world’s “tired, poor and huddled masses” to emigrate to the United States. Well, what was good for the U.S. in 1883, when that poem was written, isn’t necessarily good for us 134 years later. Today, we don’t need or want “the wretched refuse of their teeming shores.” When it comes to immigration, we want the world’s best and brightest.

I know my point of view is politically incorrect, but if you think about it, Trump’s new merit-based legal immigration proposal is a logical, sensible approach to a complex policy issue. As USA Today explained, Trump’s plan would “take cues from Australia and Canada ... to end the long-held practice of U.S. citizens sponsoring parents, siblings and adult children for permanent residence and ultimate citizenship.”

Instead, “a ‘merit-based’ system would grade foreign applicants on their potential contributions to the economy ... and favor those with advanced education, English proficiency and a stellar work history.” What’s wrong with that? If a merit-based immigration system is good enough for Australia and Canada, why isn’t it also good enough for the U.S.?

Co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, the new system would switch from a family-based policy to one based on economic value to the U.S. In other words, this policy would stem the flow of undereducated, unskilled immigrants — Lazarus’ “wretched refuse” — and replace them with well educated, skilled, English-speaking immigrants who believe in the American Dream. Unsurprisingly, the English requirement sparked a bitter argument in the White House Press Room between Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller and Jim Acosta of left-leaning CNN, who quoted the Lazarus poem to accuse Miller and the president of “racism.”

That’s always the response of liberal Democrats when anyone advocate policies they don’t agree with, or when we criticize former President Obama’s policies. “Racism!” they shout without addressing the substance of the policies under discussion. I have faced this kind of knee-jerk criticism from self-styled “progressives” (i.e. socialists), but their empty words bounce off me like water off a duck’s back.

According to USA Today, “Critics argued that the workers Trump said he’s trying to help would be hurt most by the proposal.” In my opinion, this criticism could be countered by canceling proposed drastic cuts in legal immigration and establishing a new guest worker program similar to the old Bracero Program where seasonal workers could come to the U.S. for specified periods of time as long as they promised to return to their home countries. Fair enough.

As for illegal immigration, the Trump administration’s tough enforcement policy has already cut it in half along the U.S.-Mexico border and the president’s famous “beautiful border wall” — which will be paid for by American taxpayers, not Mexico, as he promised — will cut illegal immigration even further. And the Trump White House strongly supports a revitalized Border Patrol that’s aggressively pursuing violent drug and human trafficking gangs like MS-13. All of this is good news to those of us who support a merit-based LEGAL immigration system and oppose ILLEGAL immigration as a threat to our national security.

Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a retired diplomat.


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