The immigration debate has exposed a sore issue on all sides. Much of the country is upset that the government is doing nothing about illegal immigration and is simply proposing to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants in lieu of enforcing the laws. The illegal immigrants believe this to be a racist attack designed to purge the country of Hispanics. Both sides have a point but there still needs to be a solution before the issue becomes too contentious.
The immigration enforcement position
Those who favor immigration enforcement argue that these people entered the country illegally and should not be rewarded for breaking the law. They state that the porous border makes it easy for the enemies of the United States to enter the country and undermine us from within. There is the argument that illegal immigrants inflate the welfare rolls, causing taxpayers to pay for people who sneak across the border. Lastly, the situation has led to open armed conflict on the border with Mexico.
The immigrants’ position
Living in poverty with no hope of a better life for oneself or one’s children isn’t a fun thing. If you lived in Mexico and saw the prosperity in the US you’d want to come here too. With the Mexican government and the United States government making it so easy to come here it hardly seems like it is really illegal. Companies are ready and willing to not only hire you, but help you “doctor” the paperwork so it appears legit. If your child is born in the US they’ll automatically have US citizenship.
This problem has been caused by the government of the United States not only spending decades not enforcing the law but broadcasting that we have no intention of enforcing the law. When Mexico started producing pamphlets on how to sneak across the border, our government did nothing. While it is tempting to blame the illegal immigrants, we can hardly blame them for wanting a better life, being told by their government they can come to the US for a good life, and the US saying it won’t enforce the laws. Making it a felony to be an illegal immigrant starts to get dangerously close to an ex post facto kind of situation.
One could make the argument that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but I’d like to take this opportunity to point to this law. In Illinois, premarital sex is illegal. No one expects the government to enforce this law and it hasn’t for a good long time now. If one day they decided to break up the shack-up fest at the nearest meat market people would cry foul. Skipping past the constitutional considerations, something is fundamentally unfair about telling people you aren’t going to enforce a criminal statute for decades and then suddenly changing your mind.
A government has the right to and ought to regulate the flow of immigration to that level which is most beneficial to the economy. It has a right to not take another country’s poor to only become permanent beneficiaries of the welfare system. Lastly, the transparent lack of enforcement on the border has only emboldened criminal elements to operate there with impunity.
All immigrants would be required to register with the government and undergo some simple tests including a background check. If they have caused no problems here, they will be required to briefly return home, check-in, and then be allowed to return.
The number of legal immigrants we give visas to should be greatly increased and the process to get here simplified to those steps that are necessary to maintain security. The easier it is for legitimate people to get here (while keeping the bad guys out) will prevent the “black market” immigrant transport problem we have now.
When they return they’ll be required to use legitimate information for any job they have and provide that information to the government. The situation of forty million people using the social security number of 000-00-0000 needs to end.
They’ll have very limited access to welfare programs. In short, they’ll be expected to support themselves like every other immigrant who comes here legally has to do. We should not allow the government of Mexico to treat the US as if it were responsible for its own poverty problem and welfare programs. If Mexico insists on the US providing social services for it, then it is time we consider whether Mexico should become the 51st state.
Because the government has shown that it cannot be trusted to properly enforce the laws, a “qui tam” provision must be included that allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the government those employers who employ illegal immigrants. These laws have worked well in cases of government fraud and Medicare fraud, and this would allow interested private parties to do the enforcing with the help of a court. Take away the jobs and a large incentive to sneak across the border goes away.
Two tracks of legal immigration should be adopted, an irrevocable path to citizenship and a guest worker program. Guest workers will be allowed to work for 10 years and have no eligibility for welfare. The path to citizenship will require a renunciation of Mexican (or other relevant nation’s) citizenship and classes in English will be provided. Guest workers cannot be hired if there are willing and capable legal residents or citizens applying to do the work.
Congressional seats will be apportioned by the number of legal residents in the state and not merely the number of people in the state. Having a high proportion of illegal immigrants should not afford a state with extra House seats.
Any illegal immigrants captured or otherwise discovered in the United State will be permanently banned from legal immigration.
A border wall will be constructed to eliminate the flow of people into the United States in an undocumented fashion.
This should suffice in getting all the legitimate workers documented, isolate the criminal element as they would not likely walk into a government office to get fingerprinted, and create a regime that allows for enforcement (even when government officials want to weasel out). It will stem the incentives that cause people to sneak across the border and the incentives to hire such people. It will also allow for the compassion and fairness of liberal immigration that has been beneficial to our society. Lastly, it will emphasize assimilation by requiring a permanent irrevocable choice to become a US citizen. It is a difficult issue to arrive at a compromise on because of the failure of the government, which made this the huge issue it has become.