Andrew Good's picture


  by  Andrew Good

The holidays prod us to requite, reflect, and resolve. But this season finds our politics enjoined in heightened introspection as well. So, it was fitting that the American Enterprise Institute hosted an event titled “Conservatism: What now?” at their impressive new facility Tuesday.

While it isn’t unusual for the brain trust at National Review to consider the topic (1966, 1967, 2006, 2013 being just a few examples), the timing would be odd if it weren’t for the cataclysmic variable star of the election: Donald Trump. Thus, the self-examination in spite of a historic level of GOP control at state and federal levels.

Though much of the discussion focused on a range of other issues, National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru provided a tidy insight on immigration:

“Let me add one thing which is distinct [from populism], but overlaps, which is immigration. The specific issue of immigration, where, you know – before Trump got into the race, you remember there were 16 other people and all of them were – except for Rick Santorum, who was sort of an asterisk in the race – were taking the view that we should increase legal immigration like the 2013 bill, which doubled legal immigration levels, and that we should have an amnesty for illegal immigrants. This was, at the Presidential level of Republican politics, there was an attempt to kind of create this consensus that just didn’t fit the actual voters in the Republican party.”

This acknowledgment takes a step towards answering that bigger question: what now? Yes, unprecedented (a low bar) commitment to credible enforcement going forward, but what of the debate over legal immigration?

Setting Mr. Trump aside, the conflicting approaches within the GOP have morphed from squabbles between backbenchers (think Rep. Flake vs. Rep. Tancredo), to a national policy-setting showdown between Speaker of the House Paul Ryan vs. Senator Jeff Sessions – perhaps the two most ascendant Republican Congressmen of recent years.

Will Jack Kemp’s or Barbara Jordan’s policy prescriptions prevail on immigration numbers? Conservatives must talk about it, and decide. Could the GOP avoid action for another four years? What would clinging to current “Second Great Wave” levels cost a party with a burgeoning opportunity to buttress its image as pro-worker?

At a minimum, it will inspire more prescient reporting like this:

“Decades of Gallup polls have shown a substantial portion of the public, at times large majorities, favoring reduced immigration – a sentiment ignored by both parties. The GOP’s business wing has pushed for more skilled and unskilled workers from overseas, mainly by lobbying for large expansions of various visa categories, while Democrats, aligned with minority voters, have sought easier entry for family-based migrants…”

A quondam consensus; ignore the public no longer.

ANDREW GOOD works on the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA and is the former executive director for the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus

Updated: Fri, Dec 2nd 2016 @ 8:29am EST

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Albert 3441 of PA's picture

President-elect Trump didn't talk much about legal immigration during his campaign, but his official position on legal immigration was stated in a speech on 31 Aug 2016:

We will reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers

We’ve admitted 59 million immigrants to the United States between 1965 and 2015.

Many of these arrivals have greatly enriched our country. But we now have an obligation to them, and to their children, to control future immigration – as we have following previous immigration waves – to ensure assimilation, integration and upward mobility.

Within just a few years immigration as a share of national population is set to break all historical records.

The time has come for a new immigration commission to develop a new set of reforms to our legal immigration system in order to achieve the following goals:

  • To keep immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms
  • To select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in U.S. society, and their ability to be financially self-sufficient. We need a system that serves our needs – remember, it’s America First.
  • To choose immigrants based on merit, skill and proficiency
  • And to establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first.

We want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally and properly-vetted, and in a manner that serves the national interest.

We’ve been living under outdated immigration rules from decades ago. To avoid this happening in the future, I believe we should sunset our visa laws so that Congress is forced to periodically revise and revisit them. We wouldn’t put our entire federal budget on autopilot for decades, so why should we do the same for immigration?

We need to keep reminding Mr. Trump and the next congress that this is the policy that got him (and many of them) elected, and they need to support it with both administrative and legislative action.

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Tom 3537 of CA's picture

it would seem all seen the people have spoken and showed to tire of all the attacks on working class citizens. my last good job was under bush,under obama it has been the worst for employment in my life time.

hope trump and the gop will stand for the working class

Brian 0936 of MN's picture

" before Trump got into the race, you remember there were 16 other people and all of them were – except for Rick Santorum, who was sort of an asterisk in the race – were taking the view that we should increase legal immigration like the 2013 bill, which doubled legal immigration levels, and that we should have an amnesty for illegal immigrants."  Hello??????? This just lays bare the fact that we have ONE party.  It doesn't make any difference whether they are so-called Republicans or Demoncrats, they are both for open borders and amnesty.  In other words, we have one party, the Globalist party, bought and paid for by the Globalist billionaires.  Hence the reason why they hated the nationalist minded Trump so much.  Needless to say, we need to clean out Congress of these Globalist traitors. 

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John 4110 of MI's picture

The recovery from the 2007 (starting) recession has been painfully slow for workers. Common sense would have dictated a reduction in the flow of workers from outside of the country in weak labor markets. The Chamber and other cheap labor interests as pointed out even pushed to increase the flow of immigrants in this period. We know that businesses are primarily concerned with the welfare (dividends ) of stock holders/ But tax payer funded universities have also shown no concern for the welfare of citizen students - only with the growth of the institution. If universities can not do without foreign students attracted by promises of work permits - the universities should do the right thing and shrink the size of the institution.

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