So as promised, here are my steps for changing the illegal immigration problem. I don’t honestly believe any of these will ever be implemented. It would take more political courage than our elected representatives collectively have. But assuming that I have just become El Presidente por Siempre, then here are the things I would do pretty much in the order I would implement them as a mixture of carrots and sticks to fix the problem.
My first act would make English the official language of the United States, and the language for all legal and governmental action. Immigrants who came to this land, learned English, and blended into our society are the ones who have succeeded in achieving the American dream. People who huddle in non-English speaking enclaves are limiting their potential. Encouraging people to learn English would help unify all Americans under a common language, and that is what the U.S. is all about — E pluribus unum, out of many, one. When I have lived abroad, I did my best to pick up the language there. I didn’t not expect them to know English to make me comfortable. This is a stick because the crutch of having tax forms printed up in Hmong and other obscure languages would be gone.
Next I would start to enforce the illegal immigration laws that are on the books while working on making the borders more secure. I am uncomfortable with people feeling like they can freely enter my home, and the U.S. is my home. Consequently, a good strong fence and active patrolling would significantly cut down on the illegals who just walk over the border, and with too many millions illegally here in the States already, we need to stem the tide. Some people whose writing I enjoy, like Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog have pointed to a similarity between the Berlin Wall and our southern border. But there is a difference between the Berlin Wall and a wall along the U.S. border, just like there is a fundamental difference between the fence around a prison and the fence around your house: the first is to keep people in, while the second is to keep people out. This is another stick.
Since I have brought up Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog, here is the last of his five steps for curing the immigration problem. I agree with this plan:
- While I would like to eliminate much of the welfare state altogether, I won’t address that today (Don’t underestimate, though, how damaging the welfare state and the highly regulated economy can be to immigrants, and the problem that can cause, as demonstrated today in France) For purposes of this plan I will merely state that the non-right right type government services should be divided into two pools: Services only available to citizens and services available to those who are paying into the system.
- The first category might include pure handouts, like Welfare, farm subsidies, and public housing. This category can even include public policy decision like “allowing squatters or vagrancy on public lands”, since this is an effective subsidy as well in the form of public housing.
- The second include services like public transportation or unemployment insurance — if the individual is paying the fair (for example, the employer is paying her unemployment premiums) then they should have access to the service. Social Security is a tough beast to classify – I would put it in the “Citizen” category as currently structured, but would gladly put it in the “available to everyone” category if SS could be restructured to better match contributions with benefits, as in a private account system.
The third stick would require work to make it well and widely known, letting illegals who are present and those who are planning to come to America know that the laws and rules are changing. One rule is that anyone caught here in the U.S. illegally would be booted out and never allowed reentry. That means if caught, their chance to ever visit, get a green-card to work, or ever become a citizen is gone, permanently. I would also ask for the Constitution to be amended that would require parents to have entered the U.S. legally for their children to become citizens. This would be a large stick that should reduce those people who sneak into the U.S. so their kids would become citizens. The hope is that those who have a desire to become citizens would voluntarily deport themselves before being caught and permanently barred from ever returning. Part of this plant would be announcing that there would be changes in the legal immigration plans that would make legal immigration easier for people.
Currently, we have a quota for people who can enter the U.S. legally, and it is rather low. Once the quota from a country has been filled, then no more people can enter from that country. After 12 to 18 months of cracking down on illegals, identifying them, and deporting them, the quotas would be increased to allow more people to come in. This is the carrot that has will be held in front of people who want to enter the U.S. legally. Since the current quota is low, people are tempted to cross into the U.S. illegally. Imagine that Disneyland has only a very few tickets that they will sell each day, and once they are sold, no more people can enter the park. Now imagine that to the side is an unguarded way into the park. The difficulty of the proper entrance would make people more inclined to hazard the illegal entry. We need to both block up the illegal entryway as well as increase the number of legal entrants. The U.S. can handle large numbers of immigrants if they are willing to become part of this nation.
I would make one additional change to the quota system: I would allow people to put up a bond for another. The assumption is that the company or person is willing to post a large bond for the entrance of the person. If that person violates the law or fails to qualify for citizenship in set number of years, then the bond is forfeit. Otherwise, the bond is return when the person in question either leaves the country or successfully becomes a citizen. The interest would go to the government as the price of doing the paperwork.
I’m not talking about locking up the millions who are here illegally, but if they are willing to break into the country they have shown that they are willing to break the law in other ways. Not that people want to talk or hear about it.