In an article in the January issue of First Things , professor Reuven Brenner suggests revising immigration policy to maximize the influx of “the vital few whose contributions to economic growth is disproportionately high.” Jeffrey Mirus, president of CatholicCulture.org , believes this is an approach that can combine solidarity and subsidiarity:

Brenner argues that there are now several places around the world where such persons, raised mainly in the global south, can migrate to better their socio-economic lot, so that the United States finds itself in competition for the very talent pool which can mitigate or solve its immigration problems. He recommends policy revisions which encourage the arrival of such people in large numbers, which would in turn provide a way to harness the energies of many more immigrants who are not yet in a position to contribute substantially to the economy.

If Americans, along with many others around the world, are torn between hospitality and xenophobia when it comes to immigration, then this approach might well facilitate the former while reducing the latter. It envisions using government to bring out the best in what the community itself has to offer, rather than seeking to control everything through bureaucratic regulation, massive programs, or impossible police responsibilities. It recognizes the value of human liberty and the benefits which flow from each person’s active participation in the shaping of his own future. This sort of thinking puts subsidiarity at the service of solidarity. Because immigration is necessarily a national issue, this proposal rightly looks to the Federal government for part of the solution. But it still represents the kind of thinking we need—thinking outside the Federal box.


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