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More good ideas on immigration reform

One good idea comes from Republican Jeb Bush , who correctly favors an labor-based immigration system. As he discussed in the Wall Street Journal this weekend: “I would argue that if we can’t figure out how to control our border and move to a much more provocative and 21st-century immigration policy, the problems we face will become incredibly difficult to solve because we are not going to grow.” When it comes to specifics, Bush has a vision of “a very aggressive guest worker program that ebbs and flows with demand.” He also wants to expand the H-1B visa program aggressively, allowing high-tech companies and others to recruit “highly educated, highly motivated people” from around the world.”

One good analysis comes from the Migration Policy Institute which recently published a study and hosted a conversation about low-skilled immigrant labor. As the report notes, “The routes through which immigrants enter the country and the plicies that govern their stay shape immigration’s economic effects. Un authorized immigrants, for example, could impose greater costs on American workers competing for the same jobs, since the lack of legal status may hold down their wages and prevent them from leaving exploitative employers; but they might also do more to reduce consumer prices, and their flows are more responsive to fluctuations in empoyer demand than the flows of authorized immigrants. Admitting some of the current flow of unauthorized immigrants on less-skilled employment-based visas in a way that tracks employer demand could help mitigate some of the costs associated with less-skilled immigration — especially if these vias allow immigrants to change jobs and create a path to permanent residence, thus reducing the risk of exploitation.

One potentially good idea from the Obama administration was to cancel the virtual fence . But this decision will only turn out to be a good idea if a ‘virtual’ fence is replaced with an actual fence (or double and triple fencing) where possible. Given Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s statements, the answer is no. Not a surprise but a serious mistake nonetheless.


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