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Elizabeth Warren Unveils a Sane, Humane Immigration Plan

Yes she plans. Photo: AP/Shutterstock

The United States is a materially prosperous, physically large, and rapidly aging country with a centuries-long history of successfully assimilating immigrants. In a rational universe, the idea that America should expand legal immigration — and welcome a share of the world’s refugees proportionate to our nation’s size and resources — would be uncontroversial.

After all, adopting such policies would require no act of altruism. Given the decline in U.S. birth rates, America needs to bring in more (relatively) young, able-bodied people, or else accept inexorable economic decline. Providing a dignified retirement to America’s steadily expanding senior population will be much easier if we maximize our share of global flows of “human capital.”

geopolitical and ecological conditions that are fueling displacement, one might even say that an expansive refugee and legal immigration regime is morally necessary.

22,491 refugees last year. And even before the Trump administration’s cuts, America was taking in fewer permanent residents on humanitarian grounds — including both refugees and asylees — than 14 other OECD nations, including countries much smaller and poorer than our own. Meanwhile, the president has pushed for cutting legal immigration in half, and treated the specter of Central American migrants ameliorating our country’s agricultural-labor shortage as a threat so ominous, even atrocities against children can be justified in the name of combating it.

added a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform to her exceptionally detailed campaign platform. Her plan is morally serious, technocratically sound, (probably) legislatively doomed, and politically unwise.

Taking a cue from Julián Castro, Warren’s vision abandons her party’s traditional commitment to offsetting humane immigration proposals with pounds of border-security pork. Rather, the Democratic 2020 hopeful pairs her call for a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented with measures that would liberalize immigration enforcement. As Politico reports:

overrepresent the country’s most immigration-skeptical voters. Strengthening border enforcement generally polls well; foreign aid and increasing legal immigration (as opposed to maintaining existing levels) generally don’t. And considering Congress repeatedly failed to pass more moderate versions of comprehensive immigration reform back when the Republican establishment still supported that kind of thing, the notion that the U.S. Senate will be willing to pass Warren’s plan in the near-term future seems rather fanciful.

But you can’t blame a morally righteous technocrat for planning for the best.

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