What does a non-race-based immigration program look like? Look to the UK and Australia

What does a non-race-based immigration program look like? Look to the UK and Australia
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Many Americans think that President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE is an anti-immigrant racist. Disparaging remarks he made during his campaign announcement set the tone for most subsequent criticism.

When Trump says he wants to stop uncontrolled immigration, many find it objectionable because the aliens who are adversely affected are predominantly nonwhite.

But uncontrolled immigration is a very real problem. The U.S. Border patrol apprehended 851,508 aliens making illegal entries in fiscal 2019. No one knows how many succeeded in entering illegally without being apprehended.


Would critics feel the same if the adversely affected were predominantly white?

That very situation was created in the United Kingdom (UK) when Boris Johnson became the prime minister. One of his campaign promises was to crack down on migration to insure that it is controlled and checked.

Johnson is concerned about the fact that the UK has seen a large number of people coming in from the whole of the European Union (EU) who treat the UK as though it's part of their own country — and there has been no control over their admissions.

The EU freedom of movement treaty made it possible for these people to come without restriction or significant scrutiny. It permits EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely in any country within the EU.

According to Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, people born outside the UK made up approximately 14 percent of the UK’s population in 2018, and 39 percent of them came from EU countries.

Britain leaving the EU (Brexit)


In June 2016, the UK held a public referendum on whether it should leave the EU, and 51.9 percent of the voting citizens voted in favor of leaving.

One of the reasons for leaving the EU is to make it possible for the UK to take back control of its borders, which it can’t do so long as it is subject to the freedom of movement treaty.

Accordingly, the UK Government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union and declared its intention to leave. The next step was to negotiate a formal withdrawal agreement.

British lawmakers just approved a withdrawal agreement, which has started an 11 month transition period. The departure will be final no later than the end of December 2020.

This has created uncertainty about the status of EU nationals living in the UK pursuant to the freedom of movement treaty, and the uncertainty has been heightened by the election of Johnson as the prime minister. 

Johnson’s immigration plans

Johnson claims that he is not hostile to immigration. He believes in allowing people to come to the UK if they have talents and can contribute. In the past 20 years, however, the UK has seen "a lot of people coming without a job to go to," who are "putting pressure on public services" and do not "necessarily have the skills that the economy demands.”

Johnson plans to establish an "Australian-style" point system which would apply to EU and non-EU migrants. Under this system, politicians will be able to say to the people, “Well yes, we are letting people in, but we're doing it in a way that is controlled and checked.”

The point system would provide visas for migrants with exceptional talent. There would be a fast-track process to bring them to Britain with or without a job offer.

Another category would be for skilled workers who have a job offer in the UK.

Unskilled workers would be given short-term visas in fields that have worker shortages. This visa would not provide a pathway to permanent residency.

The Australian point system

In July 2019, migrants applying for an Australian visa as skilled workers received points for such things as:

  • AgeAn applicant can receive up to 30 points on the basis of age. Highest points go to migrants between the ages of 25 and 32.
  • English Speaking AbilityTen points for proficient English speaking ability and 20 for superior.
  • Skilled Work ExperienceUp to 15 points for skilled work experience of more than three years outside of Australia, with the maximum number of points given to skilled experience of up to 8 years. Up to 20 points for skilled work experience in Australia of at least one year, with the maximum going to migrants with at least 8 years of Australian experience.
  • Education — Up to 20 points for the candidate’s education level with maximum points going to migrants with a PhD.
  • Professional Training — Five points are given to migrants who have completed a year of professional training in Australia.

Trump has proposed a similar system. He would move the U.S. away from its predominantly family-based system towards one that favors applicants with desirable labor-market attributes who would be selected using a points system.

This is not a new approach.

The bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform concluded in 1997 that family-based admissions should be limited to nuclear family members, and employment-based immigration should be based on the skills the immigrants can contribute to the U.S. economy. 

I don’t condone racism in any form.

I disapprove of India’s legalization bill, the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was just passed and is expected to be signed into law by India’s president. It will grant citizenship to a host of religious minorities who fled nearby countries where they may have faced persecution, but Muslims are excluded.

It does not seem inherently wrong to me, however, to base immigration on the economic or other needs of a country by using a point system which is designed to ensure that immigrants will meet those needs.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1 or at https://nolanrappaport.blogspot.com.