No one can say Donald Trump lacks faith in Jared Kushner. The son-in-law and close senior adviser to the president has been asked to handle some of the most complex challenges the administration has faced, ranging from the Middle East peace process to foreign relations with Mexico.
The president also put sorting out the hot mess of immigration and border security in the already large portfolio Kushner is in charge of. According to recent press reports, Kushner is now ready to deliver his findings to the president. We know that he his team talked to many experts and got a lot of input. We know his recommendations span everything from legal immigration to fixing our broken borders. It is time to see the results.
What is top ask from conservatives? Please not another ObamaCare style "comprehensive" bill, like the "Gang of Eight" monstrosity that collapsed in the last Congress. Massive bills thousands of pages long that try to address everything inevitably wind up with so many compromises that they solve nothing. Kudos to the White House for seeking informed comprehensive solutions. However, we do not need comprehensive bills. What we need are discrete efforts that address all the problems in their own lanes, not all tangled together like a traffic jam in Los Angeles.
Next, do not start with amnesty. Any immigration reform program that starts by rewarding those who have actually created the problem will immediately cause the right flank of support for the White House agenda to collapse. Simply declaring something is not amnesty by adding fines or other gimmicks will not work. Conservatives will see right through that.
Definitely put reforms for legal immigration on the table. Conservatives want a legal immigration system that works for the 21st century and not the 19th century. We need to follow the lead of other countries by moving to a merit system that helps bring workers that American employers need, when they need them in order to add new jobs and grow the economy.
Do not start with the numbers for legal immigration. There are plenty of arguments on both sides whether visas should go up or down. As soon as the numbers become part of the debate, however, the debate becomes all about them, and the actual reforms get lost. Fix the system first then adjust the numbers based on whether the system is actually working.
Finally, do not forget to secure the border and enforce immigration law. This has to happen now. It also has to happen regardless of other reforms. Americans are tired of bearing the costs of illegal immigration. They are tired of the gangs, criminals, and risks that illegal immigration imports.
They are tired of the unfairness of jumping the line and clogging the asylum system with unjustified claims that prevent us from helping those who are truly deserving. They are tired of the humanitarian and security crisis created because Congress has failed to step up and do its part to close legal loopholes and provide the resources to close the border.
What we really need is a better Congress. It is clear in Washington there are only really two sides in this debate, which are those who want open borders and those who do not. There is alignment along the Potomac River where a reasonable compromise can be reached. The president must direct his energy into putting out a plan conservatives will support.
The plan should be in the best interest of all Americans and make the United States again the successful immigration nation it has always been. Do not let the other side set the agenda. Make the case to the people. Make it a national referendum. Then maybe we will get real solutions.
This piece originally appeared in The Hill on 4/24/19