My preferred immigration plan would be to massively increase the number of visas, set a very minimal bar to meet–not a terrorist, not a criminal, not carrying a hideous contagious disease–and then auction off various tranches of visas, classed not by type but by length of stay. Let the visas be transferrable. Then let immigrant communities do enforcement for you, as illegal immigrants suddenly threaten to erode the price of their valuable asset: the right to stay in-country.
That is from Jane Galt.
The implicit model is that once people have spent money for an asset they value that asset more than they would value their prospective income stream from living in the United States. Jane postulates a kind of endowment effect for immigrants. Moving away from family-based immigration also limits potential trustable allies for law-breaking.
I suspect that auction-based proposals will result in too few legal unskilled immigrants, and also more illegal immigration of the unskilled, but I would not rule out this idea just yet. I’m still waiting for someone to write down an impossibility theorem for a good immigration policy, noting that much of the domestic demand is for immigrant traits (e.g., cheapness and immediate readiness to work) which are strongly correlated with illegality. That is some employers want (explicitly or implicitly) to deny some of their workers the benefits of integrating with the U.S. capital stock. Has anyone analyzed immigration policy in terms of finding optimal price discrimination on the side of a country-sized monopsonistic buyer…?