Monday, April 22, 2002

Immigration Auction: Reader Paul Donnelly responds

Feel free to post these 7 points:

1) The rule for American immigration (with exceptions) is that an individual American asks for each individual immigrant. That is, U.S. citizens invite their spouses, kids, parents and siblings; legal permanent residents for their spouses and kids. Those categories make up about 2/3's of all legal immigration.

2) There are now backlogs of roughly 1 million spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents and about 1 million and a half siblings of U.S. citizens. (It is one of the most telling shames about the current debate that nobody wants to admit how big these backlogs are, but they are central to the whole debate about legal/illegal: How long would you live in a different country than your wife and kids?)

3) The MINIMUM wait in these categories is 5-7 years for husbands and wives, moms, dads and little kids; and 10-15 years for siblings.

4) Since you propose to ADD 120,000 visas for auction, which of these would you consider to have a LOWER priority, than rich people who want to buy their way into America? Wives? Kids? Husbands? Siblings? Which would you consider to have a lesser claim to become a patriotic part of "We, the People" than some guy who can outbid him? The fact is, there are hundreds of thousands of wives of legal permanent residents -- married to legal immigrants, frequently mothers of U.S. citizens -- who are exiled or outlawed by current law. And you would put them BEHIND guys who would BUY their green cards?

5) In 1996, Congress refused to put a priority on the spouses and kids of legal permanent residents.

6) In 1990, Congress enacted the investor visa program, which basically provided that if you invest a million bucks (half a million in a pocket of poverty) and create ten jobs, you get a green card. 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. The investor visa was a flop --even by INS standards.

7) In 1990 (when it passed the House), 1995 (when it was proposed by the Jordan Commission) and again in 1998-2000 (when I fought for it, for the third time), IT employers and the Beltway immigration groups flatly refused to consider a market-based approach to employment-based immigration (despite 2000 support for it by the likes of Linus Torvalds, Steve Wozniak and Esther Dyson), and has instead passionately backed a subsidy approach that severs immigration from citizenship, in the form of a guest worker model.

Wanna reconsider your auction proposal yet?

-Paul Donnelly