PanAm Podcast at FreedomFest: Helen Raleigh Critiques Trump’s Immigration Policy


Immigration expert Helen Raleigh is the owner of investment firm Red Meadow Advisors, and a policy scholar at the Centennial Institute in Colorado. She has recently released a new book entitled “The Broken Welcome Mat” which offers a critique of American immigration policy, and a roadmap for how Donald Trump’s administration could implement serious reforms.

At the heart of Raleigh’s argument is the notion that our immigration policy should be based on meritocracy. As it currently stands, the procedures and measures used to determine who is allowed to legally immigrate to the United States is based on arbitrary constructs like quotas, and hampered by bureaucracy, an archaic legal framework, and political pandering.

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In Raleigh’s mind, the current immigration debate is often “high on emotion and low on facts.” For Raleigh, the issue is personal: she arrived in the US in 1996, and it took her 17 years to become an American citizen.

Raleigh notes that H1-B visas, which are frequently used by firms in science, technology, and engineering, are time-consuming, costly, and unwieldy. The US government makes it unnecessarily difficult and burdensome to hire precisely the type of people we desperately need in the United States. These are individuals who will be productive, hardworking residents, paying more in taxes than they take from the system.

On the other hand, previous government policies gave incentives for immigrants to enter the country illegally, a problem that was particularly pronounced in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico. The main peril of illegal immigration is the burden posed to our public finances: our social services, transportation, infrastructure, education, judiciary, and healthcare. The vast majority of low-income workers in the United States are not paying taxes, but they are placing undue burdens on our public finances.

Raleigh argues that Trump has done himself a disservice with his rhetoric, particularly with the immigrant community. It is far more important, in her mind, to pay attention to what Donald Trump does, than what he says.

The cornerstone of our American immigration policy should be incentives to bring the right kind of immigrants into the United States, and enforcement of existing immigration laws to ensure that undesirable immigrants, particularly those who have committed serious crimes, are deported from the United States.

While Raleigh agrees with border security and enforcement of the law, she is critical of Trump’s border wall. She argues that a wall, in addition to being a costly proposition, is also ineffective. Political and economic policies are far more useful that a physical barrier when it comes to immigration policy. While Raleigh concedes that some walls and barriers may be warranted, she notes the impracticality of constructing such a wall across the lengthy southern border.

Finally, Raleigh argues that the complexity of our system, and the high legal fees entailed therein, is a true disservice to potential immigrants. She notes that a federal judge has even stated: “our immigration policy is more complex than our tax code.”

Raleigh’s new book presents a voice of reason, staking out an ideological middle ground between the left’s open borders crowd, and Trump’s immigration hawks.

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