As we focus on what to do about illegal immigration, it’s easy to lose sight of the issue of how much, and what type of, legal immigration we should permit. Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation puts that issue into sharp relief. He estimates that the Senate immigration reform proposal sponsored by Senators Hagel and Martinez would allow an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years — fully one-third of the current population of the United States. Similarly, this Washington Times article (linked to by Scott in a post below) cites estimates that the legislation would more than double the flow of legal immigration into the United States each year and dramatically lower the skill level of those immigrants. According to the Times, the percentage of work visas that would go to the highly educated or highly skilled would be cut in half to about 30 percent while the percentage of work visas that go to unskilled laborers would more than triple. In hard numbers, the highest skilled workers would be granted 135,000 visas annually, while the unskilled would be granted 150,000 annually. This would constitute a reversal of our traditionally preferred concept of immigration (in theory, at least) under which we concentrate on bringing in highly educated, highly skilled immigrants.
As Rector concludes, the Hagel-Martinez legislation would lead to a rapid and fundamental transformation of the social, economic, and political nature of our society. This fact needs to be brought into the open and discussed — something the bill’s supporters seem reluctant to do.