Beyond the diversity lottery, the Trump administration wants to limit or eliminate “chain migration,” the process by which new immigrants are able to sponsor the immigration of family members from back home, who in turn sponsor more family members, etc., in an exponential progression. Oversight of that isn’t exactly robust, and fraud is not uncommon. It has resulted in, among other things, an aging immigrant population: One in five family members brought in through chain immigration is more than 50 years old. The entitlement-based case for high levels of immigration — that young workers will support federal programs for aging Americans — doesn’t hold up very well when you throw in a lot of grandparents.
Policymaking is an activity dominated by highly educated professionals. It is not entirely lost on the Right’s newly energized populists that immigration is skewed away from those who are likely to compete with the lawyers and professors who dominate the public-policy discourse, and takes a much more generous view of the immigrants who are likely to be cutting their lawns or driving their Ubers. That should probably be reversed. Highly productive societies need highly productive people, which in the 21st century means highly skilled and educated people. I am not very confident of the government’s ability to foresee exactly what the labor market needs — this many software engineers, that many architects — but as I travel around the country, I do not see any great shortage of poor people, and there does not seem to be much of a case for importing them.