Reihan Salam laments the dearth of visas we're giving to highly skilled immigrants but argues against amnesty for folks here illegally:
During the 1920s, the United States passed an immigration law that reflected raw ethnic politics. In essence, the descendants of northern European migrants sought to privilege their co-ethnics over would-be migrants from southern and central Europe. This restriction helped pave the way for the Great Compression, the egalitarian midcentury period celebrated by many on the left, and it also put the brakes on rapid demographic change that sparked cultural and political conflicts like the Prohibition wars.
Now, in a strikingly similar vein, the rising political influence of Mexican Americans -- a salutary and inspiring development in most respects -- is having a strangely similar impact on our immigration debates.
Non-Mexican migrant communities don't have the demographic or political weight to advance policies that would benefit their co-ethnics, would-be migrants from highly-indebted poor countries have few strong political allies in the U.S., and backers of more skilled migration risk being accused of ethnic insensitivity, as the vast majority of college-educated Mexicans choose to stay in their native country while skilled European and Asian workers tend to be somewhat more footloose.
He's reacting to a column by Ezra Klein, who had different conclusions.
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