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The Case for Skills-Based Immigration

by Reihan Salam

It makes sense economically and morally

Shortly after Arkansas senator Tom Cotton and Georgia senator David Perdue released the RAISE Act, a bill that would, among other things, sharply reduce legal-immigration levels, it occurred to me that its very reasonableness was, to use the language of the moment, triggering. In an interview with MSNBC, Luis Gutiérrez, a Democratic congressman from Chicago, denounced the bill as racist. So too did Republican strategist Ana Navarro, herself a Nicaraguan immigrant and a fixture on CNN. And they were hardly alone, as evidenced by thousands of tweets, retweets, and Facebook missives from distinguished members of America’s scrupulously objective press corps.

The premise behind the RAISE Act is that we ought to move away from selecting immigrants mostly on the basis of family ties to selecting them on the basis of their earning potential. I’ve long believed an immigration reform along these lines is urgently necessary. Indeed, one could argue that the RAISE Act represents a long-overdue correction of a mistake made decades ago—a mistake made, funnily enough, by immigration restrictionists of an earlier era.

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