The American Enterprise Institute's Jim Pethokoukis has a dreamy post envisioning what immigration reform would have looked like had Mitt Romney won last November:
Senator Marco Rubio was tasked with shepherding a comprehensive immigration bill through Congress that would be worthwhile wonkery and, as a side benefit, helpful politics. Key elements of the package: Legalizing undocumented workers but providing them no path to citizenship without leaving the country and applying as a legal immigrant. Requiring low-skill immigrants post assimilation bonds. Using auctions to distribute most work permits and visas. Granting a green card to every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a US university. Overall, a plan to a) create market-driven immigration policy geared toward producing a flexible, high-skill workforce that could adjust technological change, and b) prevent another influx of undocumented, low-skill workers.
I’m not sure what an “assimilation bond” is, but the rest of this policy sounds great. Unfortunately, as Pethokoukis goes on to note, Obama won. He then adds:
Clearly, the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform isn’t anywhere near what I just described. The guest worker program particularly seems a mess. But it’s better than the status quo, particularly in its attempt to make immigration policy better match future US workforce needs. It could use improvement. Some of that might happen in the Senate. Hopefully much more in the House. Now is the time for advocates of pro-growth immigration policy to shape the debate, not work to end it.
If immigration policy were something we could just go back and fix after Obama leaves office, I might agree. But it’s not. Immigration reform is a once in a lifetime thing. We will be stuck with whatever Obama signs into law for a long time. At least until the next amnesty. And the horrendous guest worker program in this bill alone guarantees another amnesty will be needed.
When Obama won, any hope of pro-growth tax reform died.
When Obama won, any hope of pro-growth entitlement reform died.
When Obama won, any hope of pro-growth immigration reform died.
Those are the facts.
Obama will only be president for another three-and-a-half years. Tax reform is important enough to wait till then. Entitlement reform is important enough to wait till then. And immigration reform is important enough to wait till then.
Daydreaming otherwise doesn’t help anyone.