Speaking in Orlando, Fla., yesterday, Mitt Romney outlined his "strategy for immigration reform." There's some worthwhile stuff in it about encouraging high-skills immigration, making temporary visas more functional and reuniting families. The only thing it's missing is, well, a plan for immigration reform. There's nothing in here, for instance, about the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are already in the country.
Unless you believe the "immigration problem" is simply that the bureaucracy is inefficient and we need more high-skills visas, this isn't going to solve the problem. But remember the party Romney is representing here: When George W. Bush attempted comprehensive immigration reform in his second term, his efforts were undone by a conservative revolt. And the Republican Party today is, if anything, even more anti-immigration than it was then.
For more on Romney's plan, you can read Reihan Salam, who's more impressed than I am. Over at the Daily Beast, John Avlon notes that "the specifics that Romney did offer in the speech — like giving green cards to immigrant university graduates, expanding E-Verify or giving illegals who serve in the military a pathway to citizenship — are already backed by President Obama." At Slate, Matt Yglesias argues that "while the case for high-skilled immigrants is strong …an excessive focus on the idea of importing supergeniuses and talented engineers tends to obscure the fact that essentially any able-bodied, hard-working migrant is good for the American economy."
But first, judge the plan for yourself. Here's the fact sheet the Romney campaign sent out:
MITT ROMNEY’S STRATEGY FOR BIPARTISAN & LONG-TERM IMMIGRATION REFORM
Boston, MA – Today in Orlando, Florida, Mitt Romney delivered a speech on the state of the economy to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and presented his strategy for immigration reform.
A National Immigration Strategy
As president, Mitt Romney will implement a national immigration strategy to address our nation’s broken immigration system. He will reach across the aisle and work with Congress to forge lasting solutions.
Grow Our Economy By Growing Legal Immigration
The United States is currently excluding too many workers who will start businesses, create jobs, foster innovation, and help grow our economy.
Attract More Highly Skilled Immigrants:
- · High-skill immigrants start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at an especially high rate. The United States is also projected to face a shortage of 230,000 science and technology workers by 2018. At the same time, we have set the caps on high-skill visas so low that, for some countries, an entire year’s quota has been filled in an hour. Mitt Romney will ask Congress to raise the caps on visas for highly skilled immigrants.
- · Many country caps—or limits on immigrants from specific countries—are so low, that America is losing some of the best and brightest to our international competitors. Mitt Romney will work with Congress to raise the country caps.
- · America should keep the best and the brightest here in the United States. Every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a U.S. university should be granted permanent residency.
Make The Temporary Worker Visa System Functional:
Too often, harvest or tourist season passes before temporary worker visas are approved. In 2006 and 2007, nearly half (43%) of all applications for temporary agricultural workers were not processed on time.
- · As president, Mitt Romney will make the system for bringing in temporary agricultural workers and other seasonal workers functional for both employers and immigrants. We should get rid of unnecessary requirements that delay issuance of a visa, and we should speed the processing of applications.
- · Mitt Romney will work with Congress, states, and employers to properly set the cap on non-agricultural temporary worker visas. Many tourist-oriented businesses in the United States rely on these workers and would have to cut back or cease operations if there are not enough visas.
Secure Our Borders & Discourage Illegal Immigration
According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, Border Patrol lacks control of over half of our southwest border. And some estimates indicate that over 40% of illegal immigrants in America entered the country legally, but then overstayed their visas.
- · Mitt Romney will complete a high-tech fence to enhance border security.
- · Mitt Romney will ensure that we have the officers on the ground we need to gain control of the border.
- · A Romney Administration will work to develop an efficient, effective system of exit verification to ensure people do not overstay their visas.
- · Mitt Romney will develop an effective, mandatory employment verification system that will enable employers to be sure that those they hire are eligible to work. This will discourage illegal immigrants from coming to America to seek jobs.
- · Mitt Romney will foster a legal immigration system that works. This will offer an alternative to those who would otherwise enter illegally. For instance, reforming our current temporary worker program will offer employers who need such staff a legal option to find employees.
Cut Red Tape That Is Keeping Immediate Families Apart
Currently, legal immigrants in America often have to wait years to be with husbands, wives, and minor children. As president, Mitt Romney will ensure that husbands, wives, and their minor children are brought together on a timely basis.
- · Mitt Romney will speed the processing of applications by eliminating the red tape that is keeping immediate families apart.
- · Mitt Romney will work with Congress to give legal permanent residents the same priority as citizens when applying to bring husbands, wives, and minor children to the United States.
- · Mitt Romney will reallocate green cards to family of citizens and legal permanent residents.
Mitt Romney believes that young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children should have the chance to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, by serving honorably in the United States military.
Recognize That Ending Illegal Immigration Is A Humanitarian Issue
Studies show that up to 95% of illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border are brought here by “coyotes.” Unfortunately, these coyotes often abuse the people who hire them. Securing our borders and discouraging illegal immigration will dry up demand for coyotes and dry up the coyote market.