Apparently, the "resistance" to Donald Trump by Democrats includes backing away from long held support for the same immigration plan the president has proposed.
Democrats who several years ago voted to end the government's green-card giveaways and to institute a point system for selecting some new immigrants are quickly backing away now that President Trump has embraced the idea.Once a source of consensus for a legal immigration system that all sides agree is broken, the idea of American officials becoming more selective in admittances has become contentious. Democrats say they fear how Mr. Trump would employ stricter selection criteria.One Democratic leader called it "anti-immigrant," and another called it a betrayal of the principles of the Statue of Liberty.The crux of the bill, sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia and embraced last week at the White House by Mr. Trump, would trim the broad range of family relationships that qualify for immigration and inject a government screen for needed skills and English proficiency into employer immigration.The bill also would nix the diversity visa lottery that annually doles out some 55,000 green cards – signaling legal permanent immigration – based purely on chance.All three proposals were staples of the 2007 immigration bill and were again reflected in the 2013 bill backed by Democrats from President Obama down."Many people forget that reforming the nation's broken immigration system to focus on high-skilled labor used to be a non-controversial position," the White House said in a memo last week. "With Democrats struggling to connect with working-class voters who've struggled from stagnating wages for decades, maybe they should take a page from themselves."The president cast his hard line against illegal immigration as a matter of public safety, while his push for stricter limits to legal immigration he says is a way to protect American workers from competition.Mr. Trump's backing for the bill, after his divisive presidential campaign, has helped spur a feverish backlash among congressional Democrats and immigrant rights activists, who vow to resist the proposed changes.
The current rancor in Congress is going to prevent any immigration reform. This is a shame, because Trump's plan is an excellent starting point for negotiations between the two parties. There are elements of the administration's bill that both sides could support. But the craziness in Washington will prevent anything meaningful from getting done.
There are some who wish to cut off all immigration to the U.S. – legal and illegal. This is extremely short-sighted and would negatively impact economic growth. While some companies have taken advantage of the current system to bring in immigrants to take the place of American workers, Trump's plan would virtually end that practice and allow the kind of highly skilled workers who want to come here an opportunity.
It's by no means a perfect plan. But it doesn't contain any amnesty provisions and has the virtue of simplifying a broken, complex system. It deserves a fair hearing and a good debate, but that won't happen as long as the Democrats wallow in their "resistance" to all things Trump.