The fuss over immigration reform always has been underlined by hypocrisy. Politicians, including the current president, talk about crime and drugs and portray huge groups of immigrants as a menace to American society. Trump’s pushing ahead for the southern border wall that was a centerpiece of his xenophobic campaign. In contrast, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis is leading the way to allow more foreign workers in the country for seasonal jobs.
Trump’s position along with Tillis’s point to the problems with a confused, hypocritical immigration policy that neither Democrats nor Republicans seem to want to fix.
Even as Trump shouted about “illegal immigrants” from the campaign halls across the country for a year, many large American businesses that have long exploited low-paid foreign workers were worried. If Trump stood by his rhetoric, those businesses would be faced with having to hire more Americans at higher wages for jobs such as agricultural harvesting.
Of course, Trump’s never been one to let a promise stand in his way, though his White House is bringing pressure on high-tech companies not to hire foreign-born workers and displace potential American workers. And Trump’s people are focusing on the H1B visa program which is used by high-tech companies to allow foreign workers employment with U.S. companies. The point is to fulfill a promise, and it wasn’t a bad promise, to improve employment opportunities for Americans.
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Tillis wants to change the H2B visa program under which those seasonal workers are permitted to work in the United States. There is an annual cap of 66,000, but Tillis is pushing to allow U.S. companies to hire some of their past foreign workers without those workers counting toward the maximum. In other words, more foreign workers would be allowed.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for America’s failure to address the nation’s disjointed and contradictory immigration policies. Enforcement of immigration laws varies from region to region and state to state, no matter what laws may be on the federal books.
What Trump should do is push to overhaul immigration laws into policies that make sense, that recognize the reality that there are entire immigrant families living and working and raising children in the U.S. who would be good citizens. Policies could be welcoming without allowing sudden influxes of immigrants that would upset local economies.
The U.S. needs to grow up about its immigration policy or lack thereof. Tillis’s cause doesn’t seem particularly wrongheaded, but it reflects the patchwork that overall immigration policy is. That needs to change, and Trump could leave an important mark if he turned that quilt into a cohesive tapestry.