As discussed in my previous blog post, I favor a rational immigration policy. My family history shows how legal immigrants can add to the vitality of our society and economy.
High tech businesses in particular need immigrants with skills necessary to fuel innovation because our educational system does not produce sufficient numbers of graduates to fill critical positions. We should want entrepreneurially oriented immigrants who come to this country for their higher education to remain here and help our economy. We apparently need unskilled immigrants, or guest workers, to perform menial tasks such as harvesting our crops: I continue to see published laments that U.S. citizens will not perform such physically demanding jobs.
Components of an Integrated Immigration Policy
Close the Borders I agree in this particular instance with some of the more “hawkish” political figures who maintain that closing our borders, especially the southern border with Mexico, must take place. I don’t agree that we should demonstrably close these borders before we can proceed to develop and implement a rational immigration policy.
Complete closure of the southern border could be obtained with a three step process: (1) Finish construction of the present fence across the entire southern border, (2) Build a second similar fence a short distance from the first, and (3) Place antipersonnel mines between the two fences. Some of our more extreme immigration hawks in Congress would be more than willing to vote the requisite funds close the border in this manner. Of course, such a tactic would make us look like East Germany before dismantling of the Berlin Wall.
I prefer full implementation of the present strategy: (1) Complete the present fence, and (2) Let the Border Patrol have the resources—personnel and equipment—to effectively shut down the southern border. I’m aware of arguments that closure of the southern border would simply lead to illegal immigration via our other borders. Perhaps so, but not to the extent we’ve seen in recent years across the southern border. Efforts to establish 100 percent border closures would be too expensive and unnecessary: Effective closure with only minimum illegal crossings leading to apprehension by the Border Patrol should be sufficient.
Deport Felons Illegal immigrants who have committed a felonious crime in this country should be prosecuted, sent to prison, and immediately deported after serving their sentences.
Not Citizenship but Legal Residence Adult illegal immigrants obviously broke the laws of this country upon arrival in the U.S., and they continue to violate our laws by remaining here. We should not let heart wrenching stories obscure these facts. Such illegal entries should not be rewarded with amnesty and a path to citizenship through either executive action or joint Congressional and Presidential law making.
I favor legislation to grant permanent residence status to adult illegal immigrants currently in this country. Under most circumstances, these individuals will never gain full citizenship much less voting status but they will enjoy the other benefits, and meet the other responsibilities, of citizenship. One exception to this policy is currently in effect and should be maintained: Illegal immigrants who serve in our armed forces and receive honorable discharges should be eligible for citizenship.
The legislation should have a clearly defined period to apply for, and the granting of, permanent legal residence. Further, this legislation should contain provisions applicable once the defined period expires: (1) No further granting of permanent residence status to anyone who comes here illegally and (2) Illegal aliens currently in the U.S. who do not apply for permanent residence within the defined period will be subject to immediate deportation.
Permanent residence status without voting privileges would allow many benefits and responsibilities: Full collection of taxes, reduction in pay less than minimum wages, and removal of anxieties for persons and families with current illegal status. The underground economy linked to illegal immigrants should disappear or be markedly reduced.
I do not favor imposition of fines or payment of back taxes in order to gain permanent residence. How would we legitimately determine the amount of back taxes owed? More importantly, imposition of fines or payment of back taxes would result in many illegal immigrants remaining underground, even at the risk of deportation. I want the problem of illegal immigrants resolved.
Non-Adult Illegal Immigrants
Children, under the age of eighteen, who were brought here by their illegal immigrant parents, should be given immediate permanent residence under the circumstances outlined above.
Objections and Reservations
Many U.S. citizens, particularly those in the Republican Party or its Tea Party subsidiaries, will object to the scheme I propose because legal benefits should not accrue to lawbreakers. I can’t really overcome this legitimate objection other than to ask: Would implementation of this scheme be worse than the current situation? Once again, I don’t see us deporting eleven million or so illegal immigrants. When the scheme is put in place, we should save a lot of money we now spend on deportations. We should also gain additional needed revenues through payment of taxes by reducing the underground economy. At least one more counter to conservative opposition to the scheme is: The type of permanent residence I propose should relieve anxieties about massive numbers of illegal immigrants gaining citizenship with the subsequent distortion of voting patterns in this country to the benefit of the Democratic Party.
Many unions provide financial support to the Democratic Party, and receive reciprocal benefits through legislation, at least prior to the recent elections and the forthcoming change in House and Senate majorities. My understanding is that many unions object to changes in our immigration laws because of concerns about competition for jobs. Some Republicans express the same objections. I don’t think these objections have relevance to the high tech industry.
Menial, but worthwhile, labor appears to be a focus of opposition from unions related to agricultural workers. What would be the outcome of increasing wages to the Federal minimum standard for all workers in the agricultural industry—for U.S. citizens and individuals granted permanent legal status under my scheme? Specifically, would unemployed or under employed U.S. Citizens rush to fill these jobs? Probably not. We haven’t seen many U.S. citizens working in the menial compartments of the agricultural industry despite the economic depravations of recent Great Recession.
Brothers and Sisters
My Judeo-Christian sympathies lead me, when under the influence of my better angels, to consider illegal immigrants my brothers and sisters. In that sense, we should remember that we all are resident aliens (Philippians 3:20) despite our citizenship status. The scheme I propose could rationalize our immigration policy without violating our Judeo-Christian precepts and without bankrupting this country, morally or economically.