Mark Krikorian is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. The center is an independent, non-partisan research organization in Washington D.C. that examines and critiques the impact of immigration (both legal and illegal) on the United States. He’s provided frequent testimony before Congress.
Immigration is a ‘hot-button’ issue that has many facets. Mark began by looking at Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
According to Mark, President Obama initiated DACA illegally when Congress wouldn’t pass the ‘Dream Act’. He decided to give work permits to about 700,000 illegal immigrants who came before they turned 16. President Trump has discontinued that program and it will disappear in March.
So what do we do now? President Trump has indicated he’s fine with proper amnesty for this narrow and unique group of individuals, but he wants Congress to handle it because it’s not in his authority to make the laws. He insists that rather than giving this group amnesty, there must be some measures to balance this to limit the damage that DACA would cause.
So for Mark, the issue comes down to what will end up in the deal that offsets the amnesty. Democrats want no offsets. They want a naked bill that does nothing but give amnesty. On the other side, President Trump and the Republicans admit that this special group of illegals constitutes a reasonable point of concern, but there has to be some special elements to any package that’s worked out.
One of the concerns for Republicans is that of ‘chain migration’. Under ‘chain migration’, those that get ‘legalized’ are then able to sponsor their relatives who didn’t come as children.
Jim probed Mark more regarding ‘chain migration’ and asked if it leads to illegal immigration. For Mark, the problem is that ‘chain migration’ takes the decision over legal immigration away from the American people. So instead of having an immigration system based upon neutral or objective standards such as skills or education, yesterday’s immigrants are the ones who get to decide who tomorrow’s immigrants will be.
Mark did point out that there are caps on various categories. For example, the adult brothers and sisters of American citizens category has a cap of 60,000 per year. That sounds like a lot, but there’s about a million or more on a waiting list that want to come here under that category alone.
The waiting list issue is a problem by itself because we tend to over-promise and under-deliver. For example, if we allowed everyone in who is a brother or sister, you’d have 2-5 million immigrants per year. So we limit the number, but that results in waiting lists.
What Mark would like to see is a situation where we decide which groups of people we really want to let in, then let all of those who fit that narrow description in each year so you avoid the waiting list issue.
As this program progressed, Jim and Mark looked at the connection between ‘chain migration’ and the visa lottery, e-verify, the border wall controversy, sanctuary cities, and more.