President Trump, signaling a potential major shift in policy, told news anchors on Tuesday that he is open to a broad immigration overhaul that would grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes.
“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” the president told the TV anchors at the White House, according to people present during the discussion. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the private meeting.When Ronald Reagan successfully proposed such an idea the concern was that legalization would simply encourage a new flood of undocumented immigrants to fill in the low income jobs that might be vacated by people with newly legal status. However, the demographic conditions are very different now that they were then. The birth rate has fallen steadily in Mexico (and in much of the rest of Central America) and Mexico no longer has a huge population of young adults needing to find work. Work has come to them at least partly because of NAFTA, if the truth be known, exemplified by news yesterday on NPR that a ball bearing plant in Indianapolis will be moving its 350 jobs from Indiana to Mexico, because of the difference in pay. One of the goals of NAFTA at the time the legislation was passed was to create a "wall of jobs" that would keep people in Mexico. That and a lower birth rate have, in fact, done precisely that. In the meantime, the economy of the U.S. would almost certainly be much better off with the kind of immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for people already here and participating in the labor force.