WSJ: House Should Improve Immigration Reform Bill, Not Kill It

Wednesday, 03 Jul 2013 01:00 PM

By Dan Weil

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The House would do best to further liberalize some of the rules in the Senate's immigration bill rather than rejecting immigration reform out of hand, the Wall Street Journal claims in an editorial.

"Any legislation that runs 1,200 pages is almost by definition flawed, and the immigration reform that passed the Senate late last week is no exception," Journal editors write. However, they say the bill is a step in the right direction as it would "improve America's ability to legally attract more of the world's human talent."

They say the Republican-run House has a chance to make the bill better, ideally by focusing on easing the way for more legal immigration.

"Immigrants flock to the U.S. mainly for economic opportunity, and that incentive can't be stopped by a border fence or more harassment of businesses," the editorial states, pointing out that an estimated 40 percent of illegal immigrants overstayed legal visas.

"The Senate's enforcement provisions are an example of wretched excess, a case of the Republican Party letting its blood-and-soil wing trump its supposedly free-market principles."

The strength of the Senate bill lies in its provisions allowing more immigrants to enter the country, according to Journal editors. That includes an elimination of limits on the number of green cards for graduates of U.S. colleges and universities who specialize in science, engineering, and technology and have a job offer.

'This will help keep the U.S. at the leading edge of technology and world competitiveness," the editorial says.

It also lauds the Senate bill's allowance of more guest-worker visas to solve employee shortages. "The new farm-worker program is a particular improvement over the current mess," Journal editors write. "The status quo without reform will mean more labor shortages that force American farmers to stop growing some crops or move even more production overseas."

The quota increase for skilled H-1B workers is another benefit of the Senate bill, "though here again the limit is still too low and too encumbered by Department of Labor discretion," the editorial says. "The same goes for the new guest-worker program for unskilled, non-farm workers, which starts at a ridiculous 20,000 visas."

So the paper contends the House should raise visa quotas and strip away the Labor Department's powers over business.

"This would also be the best immigration enforcement policy because more legal ways to enter the U.S. and work means less incentive to come illegally. It's a lot cheaper for taxpayers than spending $40 billion to militarize the border."

House Speaker John Boehner has promised that the lower chamber won't consider the Senate bill, because a majority of House Republicans oppose it.

But the Journal says that is a wrong approach. " The reason to support immigration reform is less about political advantage than because it is good for the country. It is by far the most pro-growth policy of the Obama era, and especially in this Presidency a growth opportunity is a terrible thing to waste."

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