With the latest revelation that a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, has come out as an illegal alien and John McCain’s latest stupidity, the issue of illegal immigration has popped back up. More and more states are joining the lead of Arizona and Alabama and are trying to take the immigration issue into their own hands in violation of the Constitution. The immigration issue is not one that is going to go away on its own and fair minded people on all sides need to sit down and come up with a solution.
First of all, most people who are clamoring for new immigration restrictions and harsh measures to deal with illegal immigrants are not racists. Most of them are motivated by genuine concerns about the rule of law and by misinformed concerns about the economy and national security. Demonizing immigration restrictionists will not advance the issue, but instead we should be trying to persuade them (and many can be persuaded once you actually talk to them).
Having said that, while I generally am for as open of a border as possible, I do believe that we do need to have some common sense immigration restrictions. We do need some border controls to keep out criminals, terrorists, and those with infectious diseases. We also need to do deal with the millions of illegal immigrants and their children that are already here. Finally, we need to have a path for those who want to come to America to work to do so legally.
Here’s my modest proposal, most of which has already been proposed.
To help people come here easier:
1) Create a new work visa program that can allow temporary, unskilled workers to come to the US to work on farms and other jobs “Americans won’t do”. Require the employers to pay for the visas and require everyone that chooses to take advantage of the visa opportunity to submit to background checks and health screenings before entering the US. Let them come for a limited time and let them leave if they choose to do so. If they stay, they can be allowed to convert their temporary visa into a green card, if they choose to do so. However, if they overstay their visa, harsh penalties should result.
2) Increase the quotas for legal immigration tenfold. Part of the problem with our immigration system is the long wait times for legal immigration. With wait times as long as 10 years in some categories, no wonder why people immigrate to the US illegally.
1) I’m opposed to E-verify which is a stealth national ID. I’m also opposed to checking immigration status during traffic stops, however I don’t have a problem with it once someone has been arrested. I’m generally opposed to workplace enforcement and employer crackdowns.
2) Border fences and walls, both physical and electronic, won’t work. The only thing that will stop illegal border crossings are more border patrol agents. I’m not opposed to using the National Guard until the border patrol can be built up.
3) The focus of internal enforcement needs to be those who overstay their visas, like the 9/11 hijackers who overstayed tourism and student visas; not the guys picking onions and working at meat packing plants.
Those who are already here:
1) I have no interest in deporting or even punishing people like Jose Vargas who came here illegally as children. They had no choice in the matter. I’m also opposed to repealing birthright citizenship. Americans do not punish children for the misdeeds of their parents. This group of illegal immigrants need a path to citizenship.
2) Those who have crossed the border illegally as adults and are working and contributing to society and following the law should have a path to legalization. They should have the opportunity to come out in the open for a limited time, pay a fine, and have a limited, temporary visa to work and live in the US. Once that visa has expired, they must leave the US and apply for a new guest worker visa in their home country. I have no problem with this group eventually becoming permanent residents and citizens, but it must be done in an orderly fashion. Also, I’m not opposed with waiving fines and the requirement of leaving country if the illegal immigrant decides to service in the US armed forces with the reward being a green card once they leave the service.
3) Those who violated non-immigration related laws and overstayed visas should be deported immediately once their prison sentences have been served.
4) Obviously, illegal immigrants should be denied all welfare services except for education and emergency medical care. Nor should be eligible for perks such as in state tuition for college.
States who try to enact their own immigration restrictions:
1) Once an immigration reform law has been enacted, the Federal government should deny all law enforcement, homeland security, and transportation funding to states and cities who try to enact their own restrictions or prevent the enforcement of immigration laws. The Constitution gives the Federal government the sole power to enact immigration law, not the states.
This is my modest attempt at getting a conversation going on illegal immigration without the demagogic screaming that usually accompanies this issue on both sides. This is an attempt to solve this issue in a humane way that respects the rule of law.
I welcome your comments and suggestions below.