President Donald Trump’s proposal to overhaul legal immigration by favoring skilled English speakers with strong earnings prospects over relatives of current residents represents an improvement over his previous bar-the-door approach. It also is an act of political positioning, with no bipartisan appeal.
The blueprint attempts to forge a consensus in the Republican Party to continue the flow of legal immigration at current levels. That would be welcome, because immigrants are wellsprings of energy and pluck who remain essential to American prosperity.
But the initiative omits even passing reference to some 10 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom have lived in this country for 15 years or more. They include some 2 million “Dreamers,” raised here and as thoroughly American as any of us.
If Trump can unite his party behind the new plan, that would be a welcome rebuff of the restrictionists. But he also would have to shift his rhetoric from describing the U.S. as “full” and immigrants as dangerous schemers.
It’s useful to spur debate on the right mix of migrants, which in our view would include both the skilled and educated and the kind of scrappy, hungry settlers who have supercharged this nation’s economy since its founding. The real test is whether the Trump plan is the basis of dealmaking or just a talking point designed to win over suburban voters in swing districts. As the president likes to say: We’ll see.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE WASHINGTON POST