Analysis: The blind spot in the immigration debate

February 23, 2021 at 05:00

Legal immigration is really the orphan child in all of this.
"The bill would end up significantly increasing the legal immigration level and that should have a significant benefit demographically," Anderson told me.
"Legal immigration is really the orphan child in all of this," says David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.
That's likely to change only if enough Senate Republicans are willing to support comprehensive legislation that addresses both the undocumented and legal immigration.
Despite this looming demographic squeeze, Trump and congressional Republicans repeatedly tried to slash the levels of legal immigration.
In 2018 four-fifths of House Republicans and nearly three-fourths of Senate Republicans voted to cut legal immigration by more than 40%.
While that bill failed, Trump instituted a dizzying array of administrative actions to reduce legal immigration.
Ali Noorani, president, National Immigration ForumTrump's persistent attempts to restrict legal immigration belied his frequent insistence that he wanted people to come to the US but only if they followed the law.
Proposed tweaks to the systemIn a paper published earlier this month, Noorani and Zak argued for reorienting legal immigration policy around that dynamic.
Under the legislation, he calculates, America's working-age population would grow by nearly one-fourth more each year than it would under current policy.
The bill does not fundamentally restructure the legal immigration system, which now admits migrants primarily through two principal streams: family reunification and employment.
"Without legal immigration, the United States is not going to see sustained population growth and we'll see declining economic growth as a consequence," says Cato's Bier.
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