The majority in the middle must have a say, if the United States is to remain both a nation of immigrants and a truly representative democracy.
By Charles Lane
On immigration, a vast area of potential policy compromise lies between the extremes of nativist restriction and open borders.
For the time being, however, politicians determined to exploit the emotions that those two positions arouse dominate the debate.
President Trump’s vulgar demonization of unauthorized immigrants, coupled with his proposals to slash legal immigration, defines the morally and economically dubious right end of the spectrum. The call to “abolish ICE” — the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and others defines the utterly impractical left.
The question, therefore, is not so much what to do about immigration as what to do about the polarization that keeps lawmakers from agreeing on what to do about immigration.
One response to the problem is to attack it from the supply side: to produce compromise plans, on the theory that good ideas create their own demand.
Last week, the New Center, a nonprofit Washington policy shop recently established by former Clinton administration domestic-policy aide William Galston and Weekly Standard editor at large Bill Kristol, released a proposal that, in a functional Washington, Congress and the White House would immediately consider.