There are several commentaries (including at DKos) that defend the new immigration bill by favourably comparing it to the Canadian ”points system” for immigration which prioritises younger more educated workers and those with skills deemed to be in demand.
I agree there are advantages to a points system, for one, it takes a more holistic view of immigrants. For example, the Canadian system awards points for family, including siblings in Canada, under the assumption (largely correct) that such a support network helps new immigrants successfully navigate the economy and society.
But, lets not delude ourselves. The proponents of these bills don’t want to set up a “Canadian model”. They have only one goal, reducing immigration and removing as many potential immigrants as possible from the US.
Canada takes in 260k immigrants per year. Their population is 36 million. The US population is 323 million. We currently take in about 1 million people. If the Trump-Bannon-Sessions plan was meant to copy Canada’s system it would raise immigration to 2.33 million people per year. Instead, it drops immigration to 500k.
That shouldn’t be a surprise since this is an alt-right bill. Their objective is to address what they call the “demographic problem”. They see a possible future where white people are a minority in the US as one to be avoided at all cost. That’s the driving force behind this bill. That is not the approach Canada has taken.
Here’s the alt-right explainer on Breitbart:
“Halting, or drastically slowing, immigration is a major priority for the alt-right… the movement is frightened by the prospect of demographic displacement represented by immigration…The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race. The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.” — Breitbart
Yes, Canada operates on a points system, which awards points for knowing English or French. It also awards points if you have close family in Canada, and if you have specific levels of education or skills. Of course, like all cherry-pickers, the alt-right socks want to discuss only the language requirement. Here’s the thing, Canada has official languages, two to keep both Anglophones and Francophones satisfied. We’ve never had an official language codified in law at the Federal level. At various points, the top two most common languages have fluctuated between various Native American languages, English, German, Spanish and French. If we want a Canadian model, we would define official languages, and Spanish would have to be a second official language since there are 42 million native Spanish speakers in the US. You can live a full and complete working life in parts of the US speaking only Spanish, just as you can speaking French alone in parts of Canada. But this bill’s language requirements aren’t about economic or social realities facing immigrants, they’re driven by the alt-right’s fear of an America where English isn’t supreme.
We currently have 4.4 million people waiting for an immigrant visa. These are folks who would qualify for immigration under our current rules but don’t receive immigrant visas because we limit the number issued each year. Some have been waiting for over 15 years (wait times are especially acute for family-members from Mexico). Canada does have wait times, but they’re generally 2-4 years. If this bill was meant to copy the Canadian model, it would propose clearing those waiting lists by taking in a much larger number of immigrants (perhaps temporarily). Instead it shreds those lists by changing the rules and telling all those millions of people who’ve patiently waited that the alt-right is now in charge and they aren’t wanted anymore.
By the way, if you want to know how Canadian politicians eviscerated their far-right on immigration and built support for high levels of immigration, read this analysis.
Lastly, I want to address the rollout and Miller’s performance. It was interesting to see him denigrate the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus’s poem as symbols of an America welcoming to immigrants. The alt-right knows that if they want to succeed at closing the doors to immigration, they will have to change American’s views of ourselves as a “nation of immigrants”. Lady Liberty and Emma Lazarus’s poem The Great Colossus are the most potent such symbols. That is why Miller gleefully launched his attack.
As we fight the policy, we should not forget the power of symbols, and we should protect the symbols that support our vision of the world.