UkraineGate Killed the Immigrant Conversation

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sucked all the legislative air out of the room when she formally announced an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. The charge, of course, is based on a whistleblower’s allegations. This is not an impeachment proceeding, which requires a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives and directs the Judiciary Committee to undertake an investigation. Pelosi’s announcement creates nothing formal and doesn’t start any inquiry. It merely directs existing committees to keep doing what they’ve been doing, scrutinizing Trump’s actions, looking for an impeachable offense.

Maybe they found one in the Ukranian phone call. Maybe not. But there’s no question the latest brouhaha has at least one casualty – everything else on the legislative agenda.

Immigration Will Take a Backseat 

It’s conceivable that most conversations on Capitol Hill for the rest of this Congressional session will center on the whistleblower’s identity, intent, and report. There will be Congressmen on both sides of the aisle debating the facts of the case, the level of wrongdoing, if any. And the advisability of moving toward impeachment so close to a presidential election.

Everything else they might have discussed will have to wait, including immigration. That’s not just unfortunate, it’s a travesty.

The health of the nation depends on a vibrant, growing population, and the domestic population doesn’t have enough kids to keep things going. Women of childbearing age are having just 1.7 kids, That’s not enough to maintain the current size of the population, much less increase it.

American women still want children, but for various reasons aren’t having as many as they want. Unless we’re going to start forcing people to have kids, which obviously is a non-starter, we either have to resign ourselves to a flat population or accept more immigrants.

Trump’s Immigration Policy

President Trump just approved the U.S. to accept a mere 18,000 refugees next year, down from 30,000 this year. And it’s a fraction of the 110,000 in the last year of the Obama administration. These are people who apply to the U.N. for refugee status, and then apply for entry to countries that have agreed to accept refugees. They aren’t border hoppers looking for better paying jobs. They’re people whose homes have been bombed out of existence, or whose cultural groups have been persecuted. They have no Truhome.

The Trump administration noted that it lowered the limit to protect the security of the nation. That’s a stretch. Refugees are vetted at least twice, once by the U.N. and then again by the U.S. This is politics, and that’s the problem.

The immigration policy of the U.S. is a mish-mash of administrative directives, laws, and court interpretations. The murder and crime rates in Central America have fallen in the last two years. And yet a record number of asylum seekers are knocking on our door because in 2015 a judge (in the Flores agreement) decided that accompanied children can’t be incarcerated while their parents await a hearing. This led to “catch and release,” where anyone traveling with kids and seeking asylum was released into the U.S. and allowed to legally work while awaiting their hearing. Amazingly, the number of asylum seekers with children exploded.

We Need Registration Reform

I’m not knocking them. If I worried about my family’s safety and saw few economic prospects in my home town, I’d look to move as well. And if I saw the chance to enter the U.S., I’d take it.

But through a court ruling we created an unintended loophole, which adds to the vagaries of the lottery system for work visas, and the uneven enforcement of employment laws.

And then there are the so-called Dreamers, the millions of children brought to the U.S. by their parents, who have known nothing but this country and yet are not legal residents.

Whether we think they should stay or go, they deserve more than limbo.

All of this cries out for legislative reform. We need action on one of the biggest issues that will shape the future of our country for decades to come. The U.S. remains an attractive destination, and immigration has been the bedrock of our nation since its founding.

But instead, we’re going to watch our elected officials fight over something that most Americans couldn’t care less about. While every day we watch our long-term potential growth slide a little bit lower.