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Amid Trump bombast, some real immigration proposals

Lost in the flamboyant rhetoric on immigration, Donald Trump has offered a handful of ideas that even some of his harshest critics say are worth further discussion.

The New York business tycoon again shook up the presidential campaign this week when he dropped a policy proposal that would deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of parents here illegally and would require Mexico to pay for a state-of-the-art border wall.

“Unworkable,” “silly” and “bizarre.” Those are some adjectives that have been used to describe his six-page proposal.

But among the details are a handful of proposals, while still controversial, that have stopped opponents from completely writing off the reality TV star.

Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, described much of Trump’s proposal as “horrible stuff.” But he said Trump’s suggestion to increase the minimum wage for foreign workers is something that could and should be done.

“It pains me to say, but that’s like the one thing that is a legitimate proposal in there that is workable and people on both sides have hope for,” Costa said.

Trump’s idea is designed to prompt companies to hire more American workers by making highly skilled foreign nationals with special H-1B visas more expensive. Trump also wants a requirement that companies hire Americans first. Similar ideas have been proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also has supported such measures.

Not all agree. Todd Schulte, president of the tech advocacy group FWD.us, said that the government should instead be increasing the number of H-1B visas so that tech companies can get workers they need.

“The idea we should radically restrict pathways for highly skilled immigrants to come and stay here is – again – just wrong,” he said in a statement.

But Ron Hira, a Howard University public policy professor, cited recent layoffs of information technology workers at Disney and Southern California Edison as examples of how companies are using the temporary visas to place immigrants in technology jobs in the United States.

“If an employer can pay lower wages, wouldn’t they? The answer is ‘yes,’” Hira said. “Businesses are not philanthropic. They will not pay more than they have to. And paying lower wages to H-1Bs is extraordinarily easy.”

But Trump’s H-1B proposal is just one experts say is worth a closer look. Others include:

▪ Adopting a national worker-verification program that would blunt the lure of working in America.

▪ Implementing an entry-exit system to address those who overstayed their visas.

▪ Combating welfare abuse by requiring those entering the country to prove they can pay for housing and health care.

▪ Boosting the number of immigration agents. There are fewer immigration agents enforcing immigration laws than police officers in certain big cities.

It’s not to say these ideas don’t come with a certain level of controversy. Almost anything Trump does or says these days is likely to attract criticism.

Yet even some of Trump’s more aggressive proposals, such as calling for an end to birthright citizenship, have raised questions about whether the government should do more to stop people who are coming to the United States for the sole purpose of acquiring citizenship for their children.

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