A better system of immigration: Auctioning immigration visas

Our current system of legal immigration is a mess.  Legally, we admit only 675,000 new immigrants every year.  This number doesn't count immigrants who are made citizens as part of chain migration, which can raise that 675,000 number enormously.  There are nearly 500,000 permanent visas given to family members, some of whom count toward this 675,000 total and some of whom don't (it's complicated!).  There are 140,000 slots for employment-based immigrants as part of the total as well.  There are also per country ceilings so that no country may contribute more than 7% of the total immigrant population, putting China on an even level with Guatemala.

Then, of course, there are refugees, and the president can, every year, set whatever limit he likes, however high he likes.  In 2016, that number was 85,000.  Also, there is the Diversity Lottery, giving 55,000 visas to completely random people.  But wait – we're not done; there is also Temporary Protected Status, which has been given to hundreds of thousands of people in Central America because of earthquakes that happened decades ago.

In short, our immigration system doesn't serve America.  It serves others.

I would suggest a new method of legal immigration whose primary purpose is to strengthen the economy of America.  Under this standard, the government establishes a set number of permanent immigrant spots and then literally auctions them off.

Who would be the highest bidders for such spots?

1) The rich.  And that would be good.  Guess what rich people bring with them when they come to America: money!  Money means investment.  Investment means jobs.

2) Large companies who need highly skilled and valuable employees they can't find anywhere else.  It's an open joke that the current H-2B visa program is terribly abused.  Companies are supposed to hire outside the country only when they can't find Americans to fill positions, but in practice, they make only a token effort to do so and eagerly hire from abroad so they can pay lower wages.

Under an auction system, all that would end.  Companies who truly need a computer programmer or a biotechnologist with a certain skill set will have to pay for the privilege – perhaps $50,000 or $100,000 – to import an expert.  Under such a system, we could be 100% certain that companies would be bringing in only top talent that they couldn't find in America.

So this system would bring in money and top talent.  It would also bring in one more thing: revenue for the federal government.  If the government set a cap of 500,000 immigrants per year, and immigration slots fetched an average of $100,000 at auction, that would generate about 500 billion dollars.  That's a lot of money.  Instead of importing people to go on welfare, we would have a dedicated revenue stream that could help pay for the government's operations.  Imagine if this tax on immigrants could be used to lower taxes on Americans!  It sounds like science fiction, doesn't it?

The government could also let in a limited number of refugees on top of this number, but I am skeptical about giving the government the ability to do that without strict controls.  Obama abused his refugee authority, and even George Bush let in "temporary" refugees who are still here decades later.

Also note that nothing in this discussion refers to nationality or ethnicity.  The decision to admit would be based purely on finance and skill.

What do you think of such a system of legal immigration that looks after America's interests first?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com

Our current system of legal immigration is a mess.  Legally, we admit only 675,000 new immigrants every year.  This number doesn't count immigrants who are made citizens as part of chain migration, which can raise that 675,000 number enormously.  There are nearly 500,000 permanent visas given to family members, some of whom count toward this 675,000 total and some of whom don't (it's complicated!).  There are 140,000 slots for employment-based immigrants as part of the total as well.  There are also per country ceilings so that no country may contribute more than 7% of the total immigrant population, putting China on an even level with Guatemala.

Then, of course, there are refugees, and the president can, every year, set whatever limit he likes, however high he likes.  In 2016, that number was 85,000.  Also, there is the Diversity Lottery, giving 55,000 visas to completely random people.  But wait – we're not done; there is also Temporary Protected Status, which has been given to hundreds of thousands of people in Central America because of earthquakes that happened decades ago.

In short, our immigration system doesn't serve America.  It serves others.

I would suggest a new method of legal immigration whose primary purpose is to strengthen the economy of America.  Under this standard, the government establishes a set number of permanent immigrant spots and then literally auctions them off.

Who would be the highest bidders for such spots?

1) The rich.  And that would be good.  Guess what rich people bring with them when they come to America: money!  Money means investment.  Investment means jobs.

2) Large companies who need highly skilled and valuable employees they can't find anywhere else.  It's an open joke that the current H-2B visa program is terribly abused.  Companies are supposed to hire outside the country only when they can't find Americans to fill positions, but in practice, they make only a token effort to do so and eagerly hire from abroad so they can pay lower wages.

Under an auction system, all that would end.  Companies who truly need a computer programmer or a biotechnologist with a certain skill set will have to pay for the privilege – perhaps $50,000 or $100,000 – to import an expert.  Under such a system, we could be 100% certain that companies would be bringing in only top talent that they couldn't find in America.

So this system would bring in money and top talent.  It would also bring in one more thing: revenue for the federal government.  If the government set a cap of 500,000 immigrants per year, and immigration slots fetched an average of $100,000 at auction, that would generate about 500 billion dollars.  That's a lot of money.  Instead of importing people to go on welfare, we would have a dedicated revenue stream that could help pay for the government's operations.  Imagine if this tax on immigrants could be used to lower taxes on Americans!  It sounds like science fiction, doesn't it?

The government could also let in a limited number of refugees on top of this number, but I am skeptical about giving the government the ability to do that without strict controls.  Obama abused his refugee authority, and even George Bush let in "temporary" refugees who are still here decades later.

Also note that nothing in this discussion refers to nationality or ethnicity.  The decision to admit would be based purely on finance and skill.

What do you think of such a system of legal immigration that looks after America's interests first?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com