Brexit’s Hidden Message to America About Immigration Policy-Making

By David North | March 27, 2019 | 10:13am EDT
(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The widely reported crisis in the United Kingdom regarding that nation's possible departure from the European Union, summed up in the term “Brexit,” carries with it a largely hidden, but perfectly clear, message to America's immigration policy-makers.

A slight majority of the Brits voted to get out of the European Union a couple of years ago.

There were two sets of reasons (beyond a lack of realism about Britain's place in the world); some worried about the transfer of some powers (notably over the economy) from London to the super-state in Brussels; some worried about the nation's loss of control over immigration from elsewhere in Europe; and, of course, some worried about both variables.

How did the UK get into this mess? Some years ago it entered into a treaty (or maybe a batch of treaties) with the other nations in Europe, giving up some of its own migration controls, and other powers, in order to receive the free trade benefits and other advantages that flowed from the European Union. If it had not done that, there would be no discussion of a Brexit.

The United States, certainly during this administration, is not going to enter into any supranational organization like the EU, but over the years it has signed away some of its powers over immigration by agreeing to treaties, such as NAFTA. As long ago as 2004, my colleague Jessica Vaughan was writing about the dangers of making immigration policy through treaties.

The kinds of people who negotiate our treaties (diplomats and world-trade types) have little interest in the American labor market, and are often too quick to agree with other nations' policy-makers. Immigration policy should be made for the benefit of American interests, and made unilaterally by our Congress and our president.

David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, has over 40 years of immigration policy experience.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Center for Immigration Studies.

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