Monday, April 22, 2002

Immigration auction: My response to the points raised by Paul Donnelly

First of all, I want to thank you for the information and analysis that you put into your email. This is obviously a subject for which you have both great knowledge and passion.

Regarding points 3 and 4, I agree with you that the lengthy waiting list for visas is a tragedy. If I were in charge of U.S. immigration policy, I would grant a much higher number of visas. However, given opposition of the Patrick Buchanan-esque wing of the right and the labor union wing of the left--and fears of terrorism which currently surround any discussion of immigration--it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful increase in the current number of visas granted.

But more importantly, my proposal certainly does not harm the interests of those currently on the visa waiting list. No one wait would wait longer due to my proposal. In fact, for those fortunate enough to have money it is a way for them to avoid waiting the several years to reunite their families. My proposal is again for an additional 120,000 visas, not taking 120,000 visas away from those currently waiting. Even those without sufficient money to earn a visa through the auction would benefit if some ahead of them in line did choose to purchase a visa immediately. They would then move that much closer to getting a visa themselves.

In point six, you state: Congress didn't realize that if you have that kind of dough, you can just hire an immigration lawyer and find a cheaper way into the country. This makes the case for the immigration auction stronger than any point I made! Currently, a person with money can, in essence, buy a visa already. They just have to buy it by hiring a clever immigration lawyer. Society would be better off with that money being bid in the auction and the clever immigration lawyer using his time to do other productive activities. And the funds raised by the auction could be used to reduce taxes, pay down the debt or for some worthwhile government activity.

Paul, I think both our hearts are in the right place on this issue. My proposal is possibly a politically pragmatic way to allow more people into this country. People who are (tragically) literally dying to get here.