Trump backs proposal to reform legal immigration, press goes bonkers

  • 3 August 2017
  • NormanL
Trump backs proposal to reform legal immigration, press goes bonkers

The Trump administration threw its support behind legislation that would reform and limit the number of legal immigrants admitted to the U.S. And in the process, it provided the nation with another example of how the Washington press corps has lost its mind.

First, the proposal:

Trump joined Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia to present a reworked version of the so-called RAISE Act, S. 354 (115), which the senators introduced in February. Like the original measure, the revised bill would, over 10 years, reduce legal immigration to roughly 500,000 annually, down from the current level of about 1 million.

The bill would favor worker skills over family ties in determining who may immigrate to the U.S., and “would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in a half a century," Trump said. The president appeared to refer to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, a landmark Great Society law that ended four decades of strict limitations and vastly increased immigration by non-Europeans.

But the Cotton-Perdue bill faces steep odds of becoming law, given likely opposition from Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans. In a written statement, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that while "I've always supported merit-based immigration," the bill's halving of immigration "would be devastating to our state’s economy."

Trump, along with Cotton and Perdue, stressed that a reduction in legal immigration and a shift to skills-based admissions would boost wages for U.S. workers and promote economic growth. That view conflicts with a near consensus among economists that economic growth will require a large expansion of the U.S. workforce.

As with any legislation that seeks to alter curent immigration law, this one is guaranteed to generate controversy. The first salvos came in a White House press conference, where Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller clashed with CNN reporter Jim Acosta:

Acosta, the last reporter called on, recited a portion of “The New Colossus,” the poem engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The sonnet “doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer,” Acosta said. “Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them you have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?”

Miller replied that speaking English is part of the U.S. naturalization process, and he said the poem Acosta referenced is “not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty” but was added later.

Miller’s defense, Acosta said, “sounds like some National Park revisionism."

"The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country, and they’re not always going to speak English, Stephen," said Acosta, who said his own father immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1962. "They’re not always going to be highly skilled.”

“Jim, I appreciate your speech,” Miller shot back. “Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty poem law of the land?” Miller demanded, his voice rising.

You can view the exchange here. Regardless of how one feels about the legislation, Miller won the argument on points.

And we learned another thing about the press -- some of them believe poetry has greater standing than the law of the land. That might make their old English teachers smile, but it would get them laughed out of every courtroom in the country.

But as we have written before, the national press corps is less interested in being tough and fair than they are in avenging what they perceive as an assault on their sensibilities. And as Mr. Acosta showed, they have no idea how ridiculous it makes them look to those outside their bubble.