Mike Kueber's Blog

June 10, 2012

Zakaria and American immigration

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:03 pm
Tags: , , ,

Fareed Zakaria, an American immigrant from India, writes a weekly column titled “Worldview” for Time magazine.  This week’s highly information and thought-provoking column was titled, “Broken and Obsolete.”  According to Zakaria, what is broken is America’s handling of immigration.  Unfortunately, Zakaria conflates two separate issues – legal immigration and illegal immigration – and this conflation converts intractable problems into insoluble problems.   

Zakaria’s discussion of illegal immigration is unnecessary to the column because the column’s thrust is that America is hurting itself by not admitting more individuals under the H1-B visas – i.e., visas that are granted because of an individual’s talent, merit, and work.  According to Zakaria, only 13% of America’s green cards are issued to such talented people, whereas two-thirds of our legal immigrants enter for reasons of family unification.  By contrast, Canada admits 62% based on skills and only 38% for family unification.  Zakaria suggests that the Democrats are the obstacle to reforming legal immigration because (a) they are unwilling to shift from family unification to skills-based immigration, and (b) unions oppose temporary-worker laws.

For illegal immigrants, Zakaria proposes that all illegal immigrants, except criminals, be given a path to citizenship, albeit at the back of the line.  Obviously, this is unacceptable to Republicans, who don’t want anyone to profit from their illegal act.

From my perspective, these problems can be resolved when they are separately addressed on their merits instead of unnecessarily conflating them.  A Republican who believes in an expanded H1-B program should not need to compromise his principles to allow amnesty.  Similarly, a Democrat who believes that all illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in America should not need to compromise his belief that family unification is more important than having skilled immigrants.

I think Zakaria’s proposal with respect to legal immigration and H1-B is dead-on.  Becoming an American is a privilege, and we should extend that privilege on the basis of merit, not nepotism.  Zakaria’s proposal with respect to illegal immigration is dead-on-arrival.  Although most Americans are willing to show some extra consideration to illegal immigrants who have been in America for many years and have established lives here, there is no way that they will accept a broad grant of amnesty to all illegal immigrants.  That would simply ensure that we will have a never-ending stream of illegal immigrants who are unwilling to get in line.

Instead of complicating the issue of immigration, Zakaria should focus on H1-B and quit wasting his time advocating for amnesty.  Amnesty is not going to happen anytime soon, but there should be bipartisan support for expanding H1-B.


1 Comment »

  1. […] few days ago, I blogged about Fareed Zakaria’s proposal to break the immigration-reform gridlock.  According to […]

    Pingback by The Texas GOP takes a stab at immigration reform « Mike Kueber's Blog — June 12, 2012 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

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