We came with varied perspectives and experiences, but arrived at similar conclusions aimed at similar and common goals.
There are very few US citizens who wouldn't agree that immigration is a mess. The laws need an overhaul. Both sides of the aisle agree on that very issue. The problem is that they appear to champion opposite directions for reforms.
Along that spectrum you have those labeled as xenophobes. Those are the militant people who want the US Army based along the borders guarding a modern iron curtain and the US Navy blockading all but registered merchant ships along our coasts. The extreme other side wants the borders completely open so all can come and go as they please, no papers needed.
The irony is that many on the right, politically, are accused of being xenophobic while the left is portrayed as the other. The xenophobic ideals are more reminiscent of past (and current) left-wing governments around the world, such as North Korea, the Former Soviet Union, and others. The complete open borders are more libertarian in ideology, bordering on the political ideals of extreme right-wing anarchists.
Most people, including the "extremist demagogues" sniffing around DC as lobbyists, politicians or legislators, actually reside closer to the middle. The goals are more common than most think.
The Democratic Party spins in hopes of gaining power through duping certain ethnic groups into believing in special treatments, thereby blindly voting on this single issue. The Republican Party tends to spin border security, punishing those who violate the rule of law, and making the process the same for each individual, at least on the powerpoint slides.
There is a comprehensive immigration reform bill being considered. Like other recent "comprehensive reform bills", it is a disaster. It needs to be scraped. Immigration and border security are not comprehensive problems. They cannot be fixed with a magic wand or the wave of an auto-pen. There are several separate issues that each need to be addressed independently. Addressing them "comprehensively" will inevitably screw all of them up. None of the issues will get the care and attention each deserves. Each will be subject to some other provision from a separate immigration-related issue.
Those who have studied the issues know that the first step must be to secure the borders. Border security is a separate issue from immigration. However, it is always lumped into the debates. The reason is simple. No amount of immigration reform is possible as long as we have the high amount of illicit traffic along our borders.
Sex slavery, human trafficking and indentured servitude, smuggling (including drugs and weapons), murder, rape, criminal trespassing, vandalism, cattle rustling, horse theft, auto theft, ID theft, fraud, and home invasion all occur as a result of a porous border. These crimes happen to US citizens as well as citizens of other countries who would love to immigrate legally. Some are forced to courier drugs while the coyotes lead them into the country. Children are raped and sold into slavery, still. Many times that slavery is for "adult entertainment" and prostitution. Any illegal immigrant seeking any form of work or semblance of legitimacy will acquire false and forged paperwork. That paperwork usually includes stolen identities.
Those crimes don't even address the potential terrorists infiltrating our nation, in hopes of being part of the next big "9/11" attack. Having lived near the Arizona border, I've seen some of these people, first-hand. They had documents written in Arabic and Farsi that gave them instructions telling them their missions and directing them to handlers already in our country. There are not a huge number of these threats, but it takes only a handful.
National security is a federal responsibility. It is also a state responsibility. Each state has its own militia. Each property owner is responsible for his or her own property. Each individual citizen has a right to protect himself or herself and his or her family against threats. So, the responsibility to guard our border does not rest with the federal government alone. The 10th Amendment comes into effect with the border security issue.
As Americans, it is against our nature and against our foundational ideology to keep everybody out. We are a nation of immigrants, pilgrims, pioneers, explorers, and people seeking a better way of life. Only extreme idiots will claim we don't want any immigrants. We also want international tourists. They bring money and jobs. When they return home, they generate international demand for our goods and services. That is good for our economy. We also have international business professionals who visit. They also are good for our national economy. We want them to visit.
Among those who visit, there are innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, philosophers, and hard workers. We want them to want to immigrate here. We need those people. They generate jobs and capital and economic growth. They also lend other great things to our melting-pot culture (like cuisine).
Who we, as a nation, do not want are those who will encumber our society. We have enough people defrauding our government relief programs. We have enough burdens upon the taxpayers. We do not need more. The top 40% of income earners in our country pays 109% of the federal revenue from taxes. We, as a nationa, are taxed enough. We don't need any more dependents.
One issue at hand is that of the immigration and naturalization process. This is a federal responsibility. Article 1 of the US Constitution mandates that congress alone sets the laws and policies for immigration and naturalization. They alone have the responsibility and the authority. They alone are charged with fixing it. Thus having the issue involved in any executive branch election debate is ludicrous.
Here is an infographic simplifying the current immigration and naturalization process. It is the property of Reason.com. Sorry, you will have to click on the link to view it. Go ahead, it is worth your time and the headache.
There is one shortcut not portrayed in that infographic. Honorable service in the US Military can expedite the process. It can be even quicker if that military service is performed by individuals who immigrated from select countries. Beyond that very small segment to whom that shortcut applies, the process for most takes longer than any visa provides.
The process for legal immigraton needs to be simplified, period. Currently, it serves as an incentive to illegally invade the country, or stay illegally after some form of visa expires.
Visas Are Not Just For Tourism. They Need An Overhaul.
The second process that requires reform is the visa process. Todd Staples addressed one segment of visa's in his book, Broken Borders, Broken Promises. Work visas need to be increased, be cost effective, and be ample enough to provide the labor and workers we need and desire. A system of licensing some form of "permanent guest worker" program would be a huge help. The quotas on these need to be substantially increased as well. That all goes to international and global trade. That benefits our economy. The guest workers, in addition, should not become taxpayer burdens. They should be capital generators.
Other visas need reform, to include so-called "fiancee visas". These are visas for soon-to-be or recently married couples that involve one US citizen and one foreign national. Too often, these expire before the immigration and naturalization process reaches vital points necessary to allow the couple to remain together. The desired minimum point in the process is the Legal Permanent Resident status, which includes that too-often elusive "green card".
#VisaForKaiHere is yet another failing point. There is no such thing as a compassionate or emergency visa program. There should be. Once somebody applies for an immigration visa, they are stuck in limbo until it is granted. They cannot acquire any other form of visa for visitation. They cannot visit the US on business while they wait for the immigration visa to be approved. They cannot visit US family members. They can do nothing but wait.
Such was the case for a friend of mine and her husband. Katrina Jorgenson is a US Citizen. I first "met" Katrina on Twitter. I was new to the platform and new to being politically vocal. I was nearing retirement from the military and was preparing to loose my tongue that my military career had necessitated to be restrained for 24 years. She and I debated a few issues and agreed on others. More than that, she was among the first to welcome me to the conservative and libertarian communities on Twitter.
While working abroad, she met the man of her dreams, a Norwegian National named Kai Jorgenson. They got married. They also anticipated the day when Kat's job and career would take her back home to the US. So they began the immigration process. Kai and Kat did everything correct. They also saved up for the move and the anticipated costs of the immigration process. To immigrate legally is not cheap.
The day came, and Kat's job brought her to DC. Meanwhile, Kai remained at his job in his home country. They had things planned, to include several trips for Kat back to Norway. Little did they anticipate that less than a week after returning to the states that Kat would end up in the ICU at a local hospital. There, in a frightening situation, Kat just wanted her husband there to hold her hand. Kai wanted nothing less than to be by his bride's side. Put yourself in the situation. If it were you in the hospital, your spouse would be a spiritual comfort. That is something that most doctors understand as a key component to a patient's health. If it were your spouse or child in the hospital, you would want to be there. You'd be willing to move heaven and earth to do so.
Kai and Kat tried to get Kai a visa. No. He wasn't far enough along in the immigration process. There were no assurances he'd return. They didn't want another illegal on their hands.
They looked into a waiver that is rarely granted. The application process for the waiver would take longer than Kat's hospitalization. Even still, it wasn't granted.
There are no provisions for compassionate visitation visas. The US military can work with the Red Cross to get a Soldier out from the middle of a dangerous combat patrol in Iraq, packed, on a plane, and back to the US on emergency leave in less than 36 hours. (It may take a little more on average, but I know several instances where this did happen that quickly). Yet the US Government cannot work with an allied nation to grant a compassionate visitation visa so a spouse can buy his own ticket, travel on his own still-valid passport, and visit his very sick wife in an ICU?
The system is broken. Period.
The immigration, naturalization, and visa processes need to be reformed piecemeal. A bill to reform visas to allow compassionate visit visas "died" in committee, allegedly due to the whispers of a pending "comprehensive immigration reform bill" bouncing around behind closed doors of several US Senators.
That is the sound of a failed legislature, folks. They kill an important bill that will patch a bad loophole in immigration and visitation law to pave the way for a "comprehensive" bill that is likely to be a galactic failure.
Here is the compassionate visa bill:
Kat and Kai's story is best told in their words. They ask for citizens to read their versions of the story.
A BILLTo amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to remove from an alien the initial burden of establishing that he or she is entitled to nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)(B) of such Act, in the case of certain aliens seeking to enter the United States for a temporary stay occasioned by the serious illness or death of a United States citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Compassionate Visitor Visa Act'.
SEC. 2. ELIMINATION OF INITIAL BURDEN OF ESTABLISHING ENTITLEMENT TO NON-IMMIGRANT STATUS FOR CERTAIN ALIENS SEEKING ENTRY DUE TO TEMPORARY FAMILY OBLIGATION.
Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(b)) is amended--
(1) by striking `(b)' and inserting `(b)(1)';`(2) In the case of an alien seeking nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15)(B) in order to enter the United States for a temporary stay occasioned by, and relating to, the serious illness or death of a United States citizen, or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, who is a grandchild, grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse, or child of the applicant (or other emergency or compelling circumstances involving such a citizen or permanent resident alien as the Secretary of Homeland Security may establish by regulation), the applicant shall be presumed to be entitled to such nonimmigrant status unless the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, or the immigration officer, at the time of application for admission, determines, based on specific facts, that the applicant--
(2) by striking `101(a)(15))' and inserting `101(a)(15) or paragraph (2))'; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
`(A) is inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a); or
`(B) does not intend to depart from the United States after the expiration of the period of authorized admission.'.
Here is Katrina's. And here is Kai's.
Katrina asked for people to write their US Representatives and Senators concerning this bill. Any rhetoric concerning the "comprehensive immigration reform bill" has nothing to do with this issue. It ignores it. Write your legislators and demand they support and consider this important bill. Kat and Kai's story is not unique. It just happens to be one that hits home for several of us.
Amnesty? No. But Something Needs Doing
The illegal immigrants in our country are often portrayed as the border-jumping, tunnel rats invading from the south. While that may describe a slight majority, it is, by far, not an accurate representation.
Those types of illegals need to be stopped. Many would be happy to obtain legal guest worker visas. Others would be content to visit family that are already here, many of them legally.
The reported statistics vary. As many as 40% of illegals actually came to the US legally. They came. They wanted citizenship. Their visas expired. They are stuck. This goes back directly to streamlining and simplifying the immigration and naturalization ball of chaos that passes as a system.
Each of these issues needs to be piecemeal. They need to be addressed separately. They each deserve their own governing legislation. They each deserve their own time on the floors of congress. Each has a unique solution. No "comprehensive solution" will do.
Is Amnesty the answer? Most Americans would sound off with a resounding "no!". They are correct, blanket amnesty has a history of failing. It will more than likely continue to fail. However, in some cases, the answer just may be "yes". That means there should be no blanket amnesty, but that each individual case needs to be adjudicated on its own facts, details, and merits.
Well, perhaps not amnesty in the meaning of instant citizenship. Perhaps naturalization should be denied in lieu of a new form of Legal Permanent Resident status that allows them many of the protections of our Constitution, but does not grant other privileges such as the right to vote. Perhaps even that could be waived with military service being a qualifier for naturalization?
There are people who came to the US as infants born in other countries of non-US citizens. They are here illegally and do not even know it. Take the case of Carmen Figueroa. This woman acted as a true citizen, working with loyalty to the US and our principles. Imagine being 42 years old and finding out your parents are here illegally, and so are you! Should she be deported from the only land she has known as home? Should she be tried and convicted of a crime her parents committed while she was still teething? Probably not. So what to do?
Every case may have similarities with others. However, each one is unique. Each case needs to be addressed individually. Some form of "stay of execution" is necessary as each of these cases is sorted out. It may turn out the majority of illegals already in the US should be deported. But cases such as Figueroa's clearly should not.
And what of cases concerning "anchor babies"? Do we split up families? Do we deport native-born US Citizens? That is clearly against the US Constitution. So what is the answer? Simple, there is no "one answer fits all". Each case needs to be looked at individually.
Perhaps instead of hiring legions of IRS and DHS thugs, the government should look into hiring bureaucrats to handle these immigration cases?
Education is NOT a federal responsibility or authority. Yet the Department of Education is bloated with bureaucrats. Perhaps the executive branch should follow the 10th Amendment and transfer those bureaucratic slots to something that is a federal responsibility -- Immigration processing? Caseworkers and judges to ease the burdens on the courts and the red-tape navigators would be a better use of taxpayer dollars. It would also be the responsible and humane way to handle the problem of the illegals already here, on the case-by-case basis each deserves to be addressed.
That leads to one other portion of reform. The laws and the judicial branch leave very little flexibility to the federal judges working immigration issues. They need room to decide. They need room to be judges instead of gavel-pounders who echo chapter and verse. They are appointed under a measure of public trust. Should we not give them the latitude to earn that trust?