President Trump presented his new immigration plan today. It focuses on enhancing border security and basing entry into this country on merit.
The plan is perhaps most notable for what it doesn’t do. It offers nothing for the “Dreamers” or even the smaller DACA population.
And it does not decrease the amount of legal immigration. For every potential immigrant who loses out due to the slashing of chain migration, another potential immigrant will be admitted due to what he or she has to offer America. That’s the idea, anyway.
Because the plan does nothing for illegal immigrants present in the country, it has no chance of being enacted. Democrats will block it.
But with next year’s election beginning to loom, relief for even just the DACA population was a a non-starter, I assume. Trump would risk alienating portions of his base if he proposed such relief.
Since Trump’s plan has no chance of being enacted, and probably would not have had a chance even if it offered something to a portion of the illegal immigrant population, it should be viewed as a campaign document. It’s the plan Trump feels comfortable with, both on the campaign trail and probably in his heart.
This also explains the decision not to cut the level of legal immigration, I think. Trump supported a pretty significant cut in legal immigration when he backed the RAISE Act, proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton.
However, Trump must feel more comfortable with keeping the legal immigration level where it is. It’s consistent with his American Greatness theme to want to admit large numbers of the best and brightest from around the world. And his base, while many in it would probably prefer less legal immigration, isn’t likely to balk over keeping such immigration where it is, as long as the system is predominantly merit based and as long as Trump is focused on stopping the flood of illegal immigrants.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, by keeping legal immigration where it is, Trump can easily dodge the charge of being anti-immigrant. He can say he’s pro-immigrant — but pro-legal immigrants with skills and with proficiency in English. It’s a position Trump thinks he can sell and probably a position he believes in.
Trump’s political instincts are usually sound, so if he thinks he can sell his new proposal on the campaign trail, then there’s a good chance that he can.