The Coming GOP Fight Over Legal Immigration Levels

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“I am against illegal immigration, but I support legal immigration.” This is a vain attempt to achieve Goldilock’s political imagery. It is similar to the GOP trope that they are for all vaccines, even bad ones, but not mandates. But specific facts are important in policymaking. Just as not all vaccines work, not all levels of immigration make sense. Look out for Republicans to use their pseudo-johnny-comes-lately tough action against illegal immigration 25 years too soon to push for an increase in already-record-setting levels of legal immigration.

Republicans are not planning to reduce immigration after years of record-high numbers. They want to increase everything, from family-based migration to low-skilled workers and high-skilled employees. The latter they don’t consider rocket science, but rather as any job that requires computer, accounting, or nursing skills. It is time to ask the question: How much is too many?

They refer to “streamlining” legal migration as a way of expanding it and a solution to illegal immigration. It is a claim that illegal immigration exists because there isn’t enough legal immigration. The problem with this assertion is that it coincides with the period of greatest illegal immigration. And the countries from where illegal aliens migrate are also the countries from whom we take the largest number of legal immigrants. It is the exact opposite. The more legal and illegal immigration that we have, the more immigrants’ relatives and friends will want to move here. They are not wrong, and who could blame them?

A 2018 Gallup poll found that more than 750,000,000 people would move if they could. This is almost an inexhaustible number. We must not forget that Central American immigrants are mostly economic migrants if we want to solve the Central American migration problem. Over 70 countries have a lower per capita GDP than Guatemala and account for over a billion people. We need to allow for a cooling-off period.

Five decades of continuous mass migration have passed since the 1965 Hart-Celler Act was passed. The majority of this has been from third-world countries. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are 47.9 million foreign-born people in the country at the moment, a nearly 3 million increase since Biden became president. They now make up 14.6% of the country’s population, compared to just 4.7% and 7.9% respectively in 1970 and 1990. Immigrants and their children make up one-fifth of all U.S. residents.

Current immigration policies, before any proposed increases, are projected to increase that number to 69.3 million by 2060. At this time foreign nationals will make up as much as one-sixth of all individuals worldwide and even higher in some states.

Each year we issue an additional 1.1 million green cards, more than 900,000. F visas for foreign students and more than 700,000. Long-term worker visas. This continues year after year. It is absurd to think that there isn’t enough legal immigration. For years, Republicans have misread electoral tea leaves on this topic. They assumed that McCain would win the election on immigration. Instead, we are seeing the exact opposite. Gallup reports that a majority of voters want to see legal immigration decrease by July 2022. Only 27% of those polled support an increase.

However, even these numbers are dependent on the fact most people don’t realize how many immigrants we accept each year. A poll was conducted several years ago asking the following question.

The current federal policy adds approximately one million immigrants each year with lifetime work permits. Which of these numbers is closest to how many new immigrants the government should be adding each and every year? Less than 250,000, 500,000, or 750,000. Or more than two million.

The average of the 25 states polled, which included a mix of purple, blue and red states, was 62%. This combined average is in favor of reducing immigration by at least 25%. 25% of respondents supported the same or more immigration. There were some red states with large numbers of immigrants, such as West Virginia (72%-16%) or Louisiana (70%-20%). However, even in blue states like California (56%-32%), New York (57%-33%), Illinois (51%-36%), and Nevada (63%-24%), the majority of voters supported reducing current levels.

The majority of people are pro-immigrant. However, separating a mythical and abstract population of immigrants from a poll doesn’t reflect their hearts or priorities on the issue. The answers to simple polling questions like “How much immigration do we need?” and “Should immigrants be allowed to assimilate?” are very indicative of the national mood on immigration. Both Republicans and Democrats are aware of this.

It is now that Republicans can reorient their thinking to better align with average voters. Instead of focusing on immigration, they should adopt legislation that encourages more Americanization of existing record numbers of immigrants. This legislation would make welfare use more difficult and make English the official language.

Republicans such as Rep. Tom Cole (Republican from Oklahoma) continue to push for more foreign workers. Sen. GOP continues to advocate for more agricultural workers with low skills. A number of House Republicans, including Texas-based ones, voted in favor of a provision that would increase chain migration.

This means that, despite the possibility of a wave election, most GOP elites still believe the same things. It will be difficult to change their ways. It is time to pass the wave sentiment to the red officials and put Americans first again. We will be able to tell if the House GOP leaders vote for immigration reductions that they have made a change in business.