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US border patrol in the state of Arizona, Jonathan McIntosh via Flickr

U.S. POLITICS

Jan Brewer: Trump’s Immigration Plan is Pragmatic

President Trump has just presented a plan that is smart, sensible, and achievable and will return sanity to our immigration system that the whole nation — not just his base of supporters — can get behind.

If only Washington politicians would contemplate the lives that can be saved and improved through its passage, this issue could be quickly resolved.

Trump’s plan does away with Ted Kennedy’s ridiculous “diversity lottery,” along with much of the “chain migration”

For years, politicians from both parties have found the immigration debate intractable. Both sides recognized the system was broken, the border was lawless, and the situation was unsustainable. But as united as they were in recognizing the problem, they were equally helpless to present a politically viable solution.

In the decades since the last serious overhaul of immigration in 1996, the system has languished in a paradigm originally designed to facilitate World War II servicemen bringing home war brides and amended to address Senator Ted Kennedy’s desire to allow more immigrants from then-war torn Northern Ireland.

The authors of most of our current immigration laws were writing at a time when waves of illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America were hardly imagined. The high-tech economy we have today, which makes attracting the very best and brightest from around the world absolutely essential, was still just a dream in the heads of a few engineers laying the groundwork for what would become “Silicon Valley.”

Every effort to update our immigration laws to meet the needs of the 1990s, let alone the 21st century, met with utter failure.

Every effort to update our immigration laws to meet the needs of the 1990s, let alone the 21st century, met with utter failure.

The sweeping immigration reform proposal President Trump unveiled Thursday after months of preparation and congressional consultation, on the other hand, is a chance to move beyond those failures. The plan incorporates the lessons learned over the past two years about the political realities surrounding this contentious issue, offering effective solutions that avoid the political pitfalls that have doomed previous reform efforts.

This is a pragmatic proposal. It’s what we need, not what one side or the other wants. It’s also a viable, meaningful reform free of any poison pills that might induce either side to oppose it right out of the gate.

Trump’s plan does away with Ted Kennedy’s ridiculous “diversity lottery,” along with much of the “chain migration” that comes from giving special treatment to the relatives of immigrants, replacing those outdated policies with a merit-based system that prioritizes the contemporary needs of the American economy.

President Donald J. Trump visits the U.S.-Mexico Border in California, U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Flickr

The plan addresses persistent bipartisan concerns, such as the double-standard in treatment between illegal border crossers and the equally-illegal aliens who overstay their visas. It maintains America’s long-standing commitment to offering asylum to oppressed people all over the world while cracking down on the massive loopholes in our application process that have allowed rampant abuse of the asylum process.

But what the proposal does not include is every bit as important as what it does. It includes no amnesty, which would drive conservatives from the table. It includes no reduction in legal immigration, nor any reduction in allotments for immediate family members, which would be equally anathema to liberals.

What’s left is a viable compromise that incorporates all of the reforms both sides say they support, and none of the partisan overreach that has scuttled previous immigration overhauls.

Fixing our broken immigration system is undoubtedly a tall order, especially with Washington as polarized as it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. President Trump made clear when he announced his proposal in the Rose Garden that he’s serious about making progress before the politics of the 2020 campaign season put the prospect of bipartisan cooperation out of reach.

There’s plenty of time left for Congress to act on President Trump’s plan, and plenty of reasons for politicians on both sides of the aisle to do so. It’s smart, sensible, and achievable and would resolve this decades-long retractable problem in America.

Jan Brewer is the former Governor of Arizona

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