A New Immigration Consensus?

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It’s a bit unexpected to find a totally sane column on immigration anywhere, but that’s just what Tamar Jacoby has written: “Given our economy’s deep and increasing dependence on foreign workers, we will never get a grip if we continue to pretend they aren’t coming. Our only hope is to own up to our labor needs and—instead of casting a blind eye while people enter the country illegally—provide an orderly program that allows them to live and work on the right side of the law.” And what’s more, she reports that Congress, with the exception of a broad swath of stubborn Republicans, is mostly approaching this consensus as well.

The main bone of contention seems to be that some, like John McCain and Ted Kennedy, want to deal with the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the country by offering them a path towards citizenship, albeit after they pay all taxes and a $2,000 fee and learn English. John Cornyn and Jon Kyl, meanwhile, want the immigrants to go home and then apply for guest-worker status. Obviously the latter will never happen, and like it or not, “amnesty” is the only logistical reality here, but other than that, most of the major political players agree. We can’t realistically deport millions of people, we can’t stop people from entering, the only way forward is a guest-worker program that offers everyone a path towards citizenship.

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