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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Immigration Deal

The big news in Washington today is that the White House and Senate leaders have agreed on another version of immigration reform legislation that would supersede the stalled Kennedy-McCain bill, and maybe stand an outside chance of enactment in the House. I’m not inclined to immediately follow Nathan Newman in labeling this a “crappy deal.” But there are clearly some problems with it. Personally, I have no inherent objection to a modification of “family unification” as the main principle in immigration preferences; this and every other country should be able to consider its own economic needs in immigration policy, so long as immediate families are able to stay together, and so long as we acknowledge that there’s obviously a need for unskilled as well as skilled labor in our workforce. More problematic is the idea, much expanded from Kennedy-McCain, of a vast “guest worker” program that would encourage immigration without any path to citizenship. It’s a prescription for officially creating the kind of alienated class of “non-persons” evident in some European countries. And the silly requirement that those obtaining “guest worker” visas have to leave the country and return periodically will simply guarantee noncompliance on an extraordinary scale.Maybe such bad provisions are necessary to get something through Congress that’s not simply punitive, but my guess is that the “deal” probably won’t fly.

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