The Immigration Debate: Part 2
Although it's not always obvious, the general purpose of the laws of any nation is to serve the best interests of the nation in question. In the case of the United States, it is becoming more widely understood and accepted that our nation's current policies regarding immigration don't work for us, but are actually working against us. This fact has created a political environment that is increasingly demanding solutions from those in positions of leadership in our country.
Currently gaining the most attention are several competing plans that could be grouped together as the "guest worker / amnesty" plans. They vary in terms of their levels of new border enforcement efforts, (one provides for use of military style electronic surveillance, another calls for ten thousand new border guards), but the common thread is a temporary guest worker program which allows those already here illegally to stay here and work for a while, then requires them to return home.
That last little detail is the primary reason these plans will never work. If we can't (or won't) enforce our laws now, how would we enforce this new requirement? I am sure that guest workers will be lining up by the thousands at the border to head back home when their allotted time here runs up. I am also sure that oceanfront property in Arizona is a good place to invest your money.
The advocates of these plans claim that they are misunderstood as giving amnesty to illegal aliens. While that may be technically correct in terms of the immediate effects and in the strict definition sense, it does however represent what average Americans would equate with amnesty, as it allows people to stay who came here illegally.
What annoys most conservatives in this debate is the abundance of attention paid to making it easier for those who are here illegally to stay as opposed to enforcing our laws as they currently exist and take substantial measures to stem the tide of those still entering the country illegally.
The most comprehensive and common sense ideas on the subject that I have seen thus far have come from the GOP's former idea factory, Newt Gingrich, who in a recent interview offered his own suggestions. They would involve:
- Creation of a Blue Card Guest Worker Program, which would include an iris scan and thumbprint, as well as a signed contract agreeing to 48 hour deportation in the event of illegal activity.
- Those currently here illegally would first have to return to their home countries and apply for the Blue Card in order to work here.
- Punish businesses that hire immigrants without Blue Cards by imposing stiff fines, and then criminal penalties for repeated violations.
- Anyone here illegally (who did not return home to apply for a Blue Card) would be scanned (iris scan and thumbprint) and then deported and not allowed to reapply for ten years.
To that I would add several things:
- Build a barrier along the entire length of the US Mexican border. If we can find hundreds of millions of dollars for congressional pork projects and billions for foreign aid, we can afford a billion or so for enhanced border control. Such enhanced security of an otherwise porous border could be the difference between having a normal day versus another September 11th
- Guest worker applicants should be required to pay a fee for the program. Such a fee could even be withheld over time from wages, or paid by sponsoring businesses. Coming here is a privilege and an opportunity, but it is also a burden to taxpayers. The law should recognize that fact.
- We must make sure that any temporary worker program does NOT lead to full access to government and citizenship benefits, (such as taxpayer funded education, health care, etc.).
- Local law enforcement should be deputized and given incentives to help enforce federal laws preventing businesses from hiring illegals.
- Finally, it must reform our citizenship laws and the notion of "birthright citizenship". US citizenship should be defined as being conferred on those born to individuals who have made themselves "subject to the laws of the United States", as stated in the Constitution. Congress could rightly claim that illegal aliens don't meet that standard.
Whatever shape future reform may take, it cannot simply make it easy for those who are already here illegally to get a speed pass to citizenship, or its benefits.
Ultimately, politics in America is a free market, subject to the laws of supply and demand. And more and more the American market is in demand of responsible proposals that will help solve the immigration problem. Such a product has been in short supply for years, but market demand creates a vacuum and just like nature, the market abhors a vacuum.
Both political parties must move quickly and responsibly to address the problem or else run the risk of losing market share to someone who will.