Thanks to a confluence of factors — including the waves of Middle Eastern and North African migrants pouring into Europe, the (smaller) waves of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, the deadly shooting of San Francisco woman Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant, recent terrorist attacks, and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump — immigration has emerged as one of the hottest issues of 2016.
Americans remain committed to welcoming a reasonable number of immigrants arriving through the proper channels. Yet the current U.S. immigration system is not serving our national interests.
Our most urgent challenge is restoring the rule of law, which has been devastated by President Obama’s non-enforcement policies, his 2012 and 2014 executive amnesty programs, and the refusal of “sanctuary cities” to cooperate with federal authorities. The evidence is clear: Rewarding illegal immigration encourages more illegal immigration. Congress should therefore reject all future amnesty proposals — at least until U.S. officials can secure the southwest border and create an effective interior-enforcement regime.
We also need to reform legal immigration, by shifting from a family-based system that promotes chain migration to a skill-based system that promotes economic vitality. In addition, we need to overhaul our many temporary visa programs — which distort U.S. labor markets, and have been widely abused by employers — so that we can better protect the jobs and wages of American workers.
Immigration policy is critical to America’s future, and we cannot afford to get it wrong.