I wrote a similar ~250 word essay as part of the application for my current Heritage Foundation internship. The Heritage Foundation is squarely conservative, and by no means sympathetic to my position. Because of the tighter word limit and my hesitation to ruffle too many feathers, the essay is drier and more measured than the one I wrote for IHS. Here it is:
The public policy issue that I would most like to change is the United States’ immigration policy.
There are few freedoms more basic than the freedoms to travel or contract for employment. Expanding the current limits on immigration to the United States would expand these fundamental freedoms to a large number of people – perhaps no other simple policy could have such a drastically positive impact. With this freedom, immigrants gain both the ability to lift themselves out of poverty and the means to support the impoverished communities of their birthplace. To this end I would expand the number of general, skilled, and guest-worker immigrant visas.
I understand that my support for liberalized immigration is outside of the conservative mainstream. But to my mind, the conservative immigration position is a nearly incomprehensible abdication of their usual support for economic efficiency, freedom from government interference, and the entrepreneurial ethos.
Few anti-immigration arguments appeal to me. Concern about illegal immigration is self-fulfilling: legalize immigration and there will be less illegality. Nor can the costs borne by native workers, with the safety net of the modern welfare state beneath them, be seriously weighed against the destitution in which many would-be immigrants live.
Our basic infrastructure serves as a constraint on how many immigrants America can annually absorb. Even a liberalized immigration policy will have some boundary. But we are nowhere yet near the limit of our country’s ability to allow the world’s poor to lift themselves from poverty.