On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi slammed President Trump for proposing immigration reforms that would shift the country toward a more merit-based system.
“I want to just say something about the word that they use, ‘merit.’ It is really a condescending word,” she said at her press briefing.
“Are they saying most of the people that come to the United States in the history of our country are without merit because they don’t have an engineering degree,” she scoffed, dismissing the president’s idea as “non-merit — it means merit in the eyes of Donald Trump.”
Pelosi is entitled to her own views on immigration reform. But it wasn’t long ago that she was offering fulsome praise for a another immigration bill that also would have implemented a merit-based system for immigration.
In fact, when the Senate passed that bill in 2013 — with every single Democratic senator voting aye — she said the bill would “reaffirm our values, advance our ideals, and honor our history as a nation of immigrants,” and that “the Senate moved our country one step closer to achieving commonsense reform that reflects our heritage and makes America more American.”
But right there in that bill, there’s a section under the heading “Future Immigration,” which explains how the bill “Establishes a merit-based and points immigrant admissions system.” That system would award points to potential immigrants based on education, employment, and other characteristics, and grant visas to those with higher scores.
What’s more, the Senate bill put limits on family-based immigration by eliminating siblings and children over age 30. These relatives would have had to apply under the new point system or find another avenue in order to immigrate.
Also eliminated were a visa lottery program that granted green cards based only on the fact that a country has fewer immigrants coming to the U.S.
Pelosi not only praised the Senate bill, she also urged Democrats in the House to vote for virtually identical legislation introduced in that chamber.
The legislation never passed, largely because it mainly focused on granting amnesty to millions already in the country, and because the provisions on border security had more holes than the southern border.
Trump’s proposal is far superior than the bi-partisan Senate bill. It includes tougher border security, and contains no amnesty provision. And it would dramatically shift the visa application process from one where only 12 percent of green cards are issued based on merit to one where around 57 percent are. It, like the immigration bill Pelosi fawned over six years ago, also eliminates the visa lottery.
Before Pelosi makes any more disparaging remarks about merit-based immigration, she might also want to talk to leaders in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea — all of which have merit-based immigration systems of one kind or another.
Canada’s merit-based system is even stricter than the one Trump proposes, with up to 60 percent of immigrants admitted based on their merit score, and only 27 percent for family reunification reasons. A review of the program by the Canadian government found that immigrants allowed in by the merit system had higher employment rates (89 percent were employed or self-employed three years after entering) and earned more than those admitted other ways.
In Australia, 96 percent of skilled immigrants are in the labor force, compared with the national rate of 67 percent. Australia has a mandatory “character test” for immigrants, designed to exclude anyone with a “substantial criminal record” or who is deemed to be a risk of inciting “discord in the Australian community.”
Pelosi can try to disparage merit all she wants. But then she has to explain why she favors a badly broken immigration system that is overwhelming the country with unskilled labor, while millions of jobs go unfilled because employers can’t find people to hire with the appropriate skills.
— Written by John Merline
Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. We’re just getting started, and we’ll be adding new features as time permits. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide.
Be sure to tell all your friends! And if you’d like to make a contribution to support our effort, feel free to click the Tip Jar over on the right.