Monday, February 4, 2013

Immigration Reform Without Amnesty

Senator Marco Rubio has issued a plan to address immigration reform. Some conservatives have called it too soft and claimed in includes amnesty. Some progressives have criticized it as too restrictive.

While the plan, so far, is more of an outline with many details still left for debate, it does being a common sense approach to the issue. The plan was developed by Rubio working with a bipartisan group to develop a reasonable compromise that would, hopefully, be a better plan than what is enacted currently.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has made some comments favorable of Rubio's plan. Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, another border state that suffers from crimes committed by illegal immigrants jumping the border, harshly criticized it.

Regardless of any plan, deal, or reform bill that is introduced, there are several things that Obama and our representatives need to recognize.

­→ First, amnesty does not work. It simply cannot be part of any "deal". Reagan compromised allowing an amnesty plan back in 1986. The plan did not work. This should simply be out of the question.

Liberals love amnesty. The reason they love it is that if garners them votes. Backing amnesty always includes extending government handouts, thus buying votes at taxpayer expense. It should be an automatic non-starter.

­→ Next, there are laws already on the books that are not being adequately enforced. Of course, some of them are simply too hard to adequately enforce due to resources and manpower. Reform is necessary. However, any reform of these must include some plan to secure the borders that will work and will be enforced. The border cannot be porous. We have criminal and terrorist threats already taking advantage of dead space and holes in the border. Citizens such as Robert Krentz suffer and die because of this.

Rubio has this correct. No plan can be enacted without first securing the border.

­→ The message needs to be clear, that the US still welcomes legal immigrants. The current visa and naturalization programs send out a contrary message. These need to be streamlined. For those who come to the US legally with hopes to earn citizenship, there needs to be a clear light at the end of the tunnel. There isn't.

An estimated 40% of  illegal immigrants in the US did enter the US legally, under visas. Their visas expired before they could be naturalized. The majority of  these people did not break any laws other than to have a piece of paper expire on them. Many were not notified. Many were given no avenue to renew the visa while waiting for naturalization. A good portion of these people were ones we actually invited here. They are the types of immigrants we want to join our great nation. Then they meet with red tape, stonewalling, and losing the chance because a piece of paper expired. This needs to be reformed.

­→ Those already in the US illegally need to be  able to come out of hiding. While in hiding, they commit further crimes out of fear of prosecution. These crimes harm citizens because they include identity theft, fraud, and other crimes to which there is no real legal recourse. For example, a family of illegals using false identification rent a house. In evading entanglements with law enforcement, they pick up and move in the middle of the night. They leave behind property damage as well as illegally breaking a contract, the lease. So the property owner has no real recourse to seek just compensation or to recoup the remainder of the contract in the form of fees and rent.

­→ The way to do that is to present a common sense path to citizenship.

Many conservatives' jaws just hit the floor. I heard them. No, I am not suggesting amnesty.

Here is a dose of hard reality. There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in our country at this time. That is the number of innocent people that Hitler and his cronies murdered. Deportation of that many people would cost more than our country can afford. We are broke. Nobody wants to give Obama and his socialist cronies another excuse to call for higher taxation. Our citizens cannot afford to pay any more in taxes. Yes, that includes the top 2% of wage earners. Simply put, we couldn't cover the moving costs. Jailing them would cost even more. We cannot afford to move them, feed them, clothe them, or care for their sick. So, we need a cost effective means of dealing with those already here.

­→ What I am suggesting is a limited green card. That green card needs to include a background check. Any laws broken must be addressed and fines paid. If there are felonies such as grand larceny, drug trafficking, human trafficking (slavery), or murder involved, they need to be prosecuted. Lessor crimes need to be met with fines.

­→ They need to pay income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes to include back taxes. The revenues can be used to help defray the financial troubles our country already faces. 

­→ Those limited green cards need to automatically exclude any form of government handouts or subsidies. Any health care beyond true emergency or trauma care should not be covered by taxpayers. It should require a long period of proving themselves worthy before naturalization is considered.  Any child who entered illegally should be disqualified from any taxpayer financed education grants. The naturalization process should be a 10 year process for anyone who entered illegally.

­→ Voting privileges should be denied until at least 10 years after they earn naturalization, if ever. Business licenses should be denied until they are naturalized. Since they are not citizens, they should not be allowed Second Amendment rights until they earn naturalization.

Those who entered legally but had their visas expire on them should face some consequences for failing to renew the visas in a timely manner. I would waive that 10 year wait before the naturalization process begins for that 40%, depending upon the results of the background check. I would consider waiving the suffrage criteria, reducing it to 5 years after naturalization. 

However, if they come forward, they should be given permission to work as long as they pay income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes. States should set up a time-line for earning driving privileges. I'd suggest 24 months.

­→ And they should have to pass exams on the US Constitution and English proficiency. That should be a part of any naturalization process, regardless if the immigrant came legally, came illegally, or came legally and had the visa expire making them illegal.

In regards to entering and seeking naturalization legally, that whole system needs to be reformed and fixed. Many who become illegals did so because the legal immigration process is mired down in red tape and a taxpayer funded bureaucracy of waste. Put that bureaucracy to work. Make them earn those paycheck we provide them. Streamline the process to something reasonable and put those pencil-pushers to work actually processing naturalization requests rather than spending years and years kicking back applications. There are cubical squatters paid for the sole purpose of turning people away time and again so that others don't have to process paperwork. They spend more effort and waste taxpayer dollars looking for reasons not to do their jobs than they spend actually doing them.

­→ Just as no immigration policy has a chance of working without first securing the border, none has a chance of success without reforming domestic employment policies.

I generally stand against the avalanche of ridiculous and intrusive government regulations that inhibit productivity and market competition. However, some law and supporting regulations need to mandate verification of citizenship or legal residency. As long as businesses and individuals can employ illegals, illegals will still come. Some employers are complacent. They have no idea if any employees are illegal. They simply do not bother to check. Others purposefully employ illegals. Those who do so intentionally need to be prosecuted. Those who are merely complacent need to be made aware, then given a means to do mandated verification checks using E-Verify or similar program. 

Rubio's proposal outlines many of these common sense issues. Others need to be added and considered. In some aspects, yes, the plan is a bit "soft". But it is a reasonable, plausible, and pragmatic compromise.

The main issue with this compromise is that it is the compromise. It leaves no room for further compromise. Any more would create a worse illegal immigration problem than we have already.