General Kelly seems to have made Washington significantly more boring, at least for one week, what with an apparent shutdown of leak-o-mania. With the Prez full-time on the golf course, and the Congress also out of town, we are forced to contemplate matters of actual policy, in particular, a proposed new immigration policy.

The proposal purports to cut the number of immigrants by half and replace the current family based preferences with preferences based on the estimated economic value the immigrants might provide, or at least preferences based on education, knowledge of English and similar criteria. I don't have any particular opinion on the question of numbers except to note that it's obvious that, in a world full of the poor and persecuted, the US can't accept everyone who would like to come here.

I do have trouble with the outrage many of my progressive friends are directing toward the idea of a shift towards merit based immigration. The ideals of the Emma Lazarus poem have not been a reality for many generations now, so we really do need to look at why and how we accept and include. There is a humane impulse behind the family based immigration, but there is also a certain economic logic - immigrants who arrive to join a family seem to have a built in support mechanism as well as a rationale for attachment to the nation. So called merit based approaches attract immigrants who are likely to contribute immediately but probably less likely to become attached to the nation.

What I usually don't like are the use and lose types of immigration that invite immigrants in for a short time and then kick them out. I'm inclined to think that these immigrants not only take jobs from Americans but also have no interest in developing an attachment to the nation.


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