[I]mmigration regulation of this sort has been a part of our laws for more than a century, and is based on legal theories that predate the founding of the republic.
The administration’s policy shifts the guidelines slightly, but remains well within the historical mainstream. Our theory of immigration law has not changed; our ideas about work and the welfare state have.
From the beginning of America’s colonial period, the colonies’ governments were concerned about the arrival of immigrants from Europe who were not able to support themselves. While the colonies craved immigrants, they knew the people they needed were those who would build the new societies being created on these shores.
This was contrary to the will of the British Crown, which saw America as a convenient dumping ground for the poor, the criminal, and anyone else seen by high society as a problem. …
… Immigrants come to America looking to work. Supporters of immigration often say—correctly—that legal immigrants to the United States are less likely to commit crimes and more likely to have jobs compared to the average American. The proposed regulations would not change this. Economic migrants who are capable of supporting themselves should be welcomed, the same as they were before.
The American system of encouraging work is objectively good. Industry is virtuous for its own sake, and all people should consider it ideal that those who can support themselves should. Most immigrants will agree with this point. They don’t come here to get benefits, they come here to make a better life through hard work. That was true before and remains true today.