If nepotism isn’t tolerated in the workplace, why is it the cornerstone of the United States’ immigration system?

Nepotism is widely considered an unfair and unethical practice in the United States. Most businesses make a special point to ensure employees that they do not practice nepotism when hiring new workers. For congressional members and many other federal agencies, it is illegal. 5 U.S.C. Section 3110, prohibits congressional members “from appointing, promoting, or recommending for appointment or promotion any ‘relative’.”

Merit-based employment a basic cornerstone of capitalism. Not only is it accepted as the standard practice, it’s celebrated as a means of ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace.

This ethical concept should equally be applied to immigration. However, the current rules favor nepotism over merit. According to The Federation for American Immigration Reform, only 7 percent of green cards currently issued are based on skill, while 93 percent are based on other criteria such as family “chain migration.” Because of this, the federal government rejects many well-qualified candidates in favor of the extended families of current immigrants – without regard to their qualifications.

Americans want potential immigrants to earn their spot in society, just as they have. In a survey conducted by Rasmussen on April 3-4 and released last week, a plurality of voters (47 percent) favored “moving to a merit-based system for legal immigration.” Only 32 percent preferred to “keep the existing family-based system.”

In his first address to Congress in February, President Trump called for immigration reform that included ending the current extended relative-based system in favor of a skills-based approach. “Switching away from [the United States’] current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system will have many benefits: It will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class.”

The economic and national security needs of the United States would be best served by a merit-based immigration system that requires a specific set of criteria be met before candidates are considered for admission. Not only would this serve the best interests of the American people, it would restore core principles to the immigration process.