Fools, knaves, and Knavs, Part Two

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a front page story about how Viktor and Amalija Knavs are seeking to become U.S. citizens based (the Post thinks) on the fact that they are the parents of Melania Trump. The Post finds this scandalous because President Trump wants to change immigration law to end this form of chain migration.

Today, the Post doubled down on this story. An editorial declares that the Trump’s “hypocrisy” is “evident.”

Perhaps so, if one hates Trump. Otherwise, an argument is required.

No good one is available. As I argued yesterday, when the government provides benefits — e.g., payments or subsidies — there is nothing problematic about accepting them, even if one believes it would be better policy for the government not to provide the benefits.

I claim tax deductions I think should be eliminated, as I’m sure many of our readers do. Even some of the Post’s editors probably take advantage of tax breaks they think are bad policy. I’ve never heard it suggested that this sort of normal behavior is hypocritical.

With no argument to make on the hypocrisy front, the Post’s editors turn to policy. They acknowledge that there’s a case to be made for “tilt[ing] the balance away from family-based migration and toward a system that relies more on merit.” However, they seem to believe Trump is barred from making that case because “he would leave the numbers of merit-based immigrants untouched while slashing” chain migration.

Nonsense. Leaving the amount of merit-based immigration untouched while reducing chain migration does tilt the balance away from family-based migration and toward a system that relies more on merit. It would sharply increase the percentage of immigrants who are here on merit. Thus, it would do what the Post agrees there’s an argument for doing.

The Post’s premise seems to be that the only legitimate way to tilt the balance in favor of merit-based immigration is to increase the overall number of immigrants we admit — i.e., keep chain migration where it is and admit more people than we do now on merit. But why?

I agree that it’s wise to admit a substantial number of legal immigrants every year. As the Post says, our population is aging and the unemployment rate is low, at least for now. In addition, many legal immigrants have much to offer our country.

However, there is nothing sacrosanct about our current level of legal immigration, estimated at about one million immigrants per year, far more than any other nation. If we cut that number in half, we’d be closer to (1) our historical norm and (2) the number admitted by the most immigrant-welcoming nations other than the U.S.

The Post is trying to win the immigration debate through a series of gotchas rather than with serious arguments. In the process, it’s also trying to embarrass its enemy, Donald Trump.

The Post comes up short on both counts.

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