Occasionally a moment of sanity grips the field of immigration and we may be in such a moment right now.
U.S. congressional leaders appear to be on the verge of approving a short-term measure that will renew the EB5 investor immigration program for a few more months, at least to mid-December, on the same terms as before and therefore not allowing it to sunset. That’s a relief for those who are involved with that program including many foreign investors who are in mid-stream in the process.
Yesterday, a New York Times editorial talking about House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise announcement that he will resign at the end of October added a suggestion about what Boehner could do about immigration reform while he is still in office. The article suggested Boehner could create an “October Miracle” if, while still Speaker, he allowed the comprehensive immigration reform bill that was passed in the Senate in 2013 to come to a vote in the House. Many experts on Capital Hill believe that the immigration measure would have more than enough votes to pass in the House. According to the Times, the bill could, in one stroke, modernize the collapsed immigration system, put the country’s future on a sounder footing, resolve the status of 11 million illegal immigrants whose potential as taxpayers is bottled up in fear and hopelessness, be a boon to the economy and avert President Obama’s controversial executive actions taken in the face of congressional inaction on the issue. In short, wholesale immigration reform in the United States is one vote and one Presidential signature from reality and John Boehner could leave behind him a tremendous legacy if only he could summon the will to do what Pope Francis called on congressional leaders to do relative to immigrants. Is it too much to hope for?
Compare this idea to Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump’s promise to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants and to build a wall along the U.S. Mexican border to keep future illegals out of the country. That is the other end of the spectrum notwithstanding the errant email campaign that inaccurately contends 13 million illegal immigrants have been deported by past U.S. presidents. If the Times suggestion on immigration reform might be described as hope springs eternal, surely Trump’s proposal can be described as a voyage to the bottom of the sea.
In the same Times newspaper, I read about Germany’s new approach to the refugees that have been pouring into that country in recent months. Evidently the country appears to have come to its senses in dealing with the huge influx of foreigners by establishing repatriation centers where migrants are processed, given a hearing of their refugee claim and then summarily deported back to their countries of origin where they are unable to establish a bona fide claim. The Times reported that in the first half of this year over 10,000 such claimants were returned to their countries of origin and the pace of this process appears to be quickening substantially in view of the large number of new migrants they have to deal with. This approach makes sense if you realize that from an economic standpoint helping the individuals get up on their feet is about five times cheaper if paid for in their country of origin than if paid for in Germany or in any other European state. In short foreign aid is far more effective as a way to solve the humanitarian crisis than facilitating mass migrations of people across European frontiers. What is more, one could imagine the richer Arab states being dragged into the picture to help financially if they are unwilling to provide shelters to those in search of a new home. The question boils down to intelligent leadership and a willingness and foresight to realize that to fund economic growth abroad is the best measure the developed world can take in its own self-interest.
We can only hope that in the months ahead new ideas about immigration, like the positive ones mentioned here, will be put forward by the presidential contenders in the United States and by those who are currently campaigning elsewhere, such as those in the leadership race in Canada.