THE IMMIGRATION COMPROMISE....

THE IMMIGRATION COMPROMISE. The value of the new bill hinges on whether you think an effective amnesty for the country's 12 million undocumented immigrants is worth a 400,000 to 600,000 person guest worker program. That's the trade-off: A guest-worker program progressives should find abhorrent set against a broader path-to-citizenship that's actually pretty good. My sense is that the system we've got right now is so bad, that even a regulated guest worker program is better than the de facto, fully unregulated guest worker program we're living with. And bringing the 12 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in this country into the light would be a huge boon. So my snap reaction is that this might be a deal worth making. The onus is now on Reid to better it through the legislative process.

Additionally, the legislation opens the way for far more high-skills immigration and converts the current family-based system -- in which relatives of immigrants have priority, which is how you get so many extended families -- to a merit-based system, wherein only immediate family members have preference, and you gain "points" for other metrics, such language ability, skills, education, sector, etc. The bill inexplicably lacks a significant increase in high-skills visas, but the movement towards a more rational prioritizing system makes a lot of sense. For instance: Under the proposed system, nurses, whom we need, would start with eight points, and workers in occupations the Bureau of Labor judges as likely to experience the most growth in the next decade get 15 points. That makes, at least, a kind of sense, which is rather more than you can say for the current set-up.

But I'm open to being convinced on all this. What do the other Tappers think?

--Ezra Klein

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