Some time in October of last year (2006), we passed a milestone in terms of population in that we reached the 300 million mark in America for the first time. And if we are honest about it, were this country to open up its borders to everyone worldwide desiring to come, live and work here, our population would exceed the populations of China and India in less than two years. This is a scary thought and should show us the importance of securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws.
The ever-growing and interspersed issues involving immigration, border controls and what to do about illegal aliens in this country appear to be too big to be handled comprehensively and correctly by lawmakers on all sides of the political spectrum. The irony is, everybody talks about it but nothing is done about it with the lone exception of apparently inadequate funding for new border fences and temporary border assignments of National Guard troops in several states bordering Mexico.
To understand the current arguments on both sides of the issues, we have to go back in history by twenty years and summarize the ‘Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986’, also known as IRCA. This act was created with the intent to reduce illegal immigration to the United States, which was generally perceived to be an economic problem for the national economy. The new law established a one-year amnesty program for illegal immigrants who lived in the States for several years and were working. It was estimated at the time that there were about 2.7 million illegal aliens in America and they were subsequently processed to become legal aliens and also given a path to citizenship. The law also mandated stronger border controls and tough penalties for employers who hired illegal aliens from that time forward.
While the illegal aliens were processed to become legal residents, stronger border controls and tougher penalties for violating employers were not seriously enforced and that brought another huge wave of illegal immigration in the years since. The number for this group is now estimated to be between 11 and 13 million, i.e. four times the initial number of people. Over the years, the governments in Mexico have quietly encouraged illegal border crossings by these millions and the monies sent back by these people is reportedly the third largest income producing element of the Mexican economy (behind oil exports and tourism). The Mexican economy cannot produce the jobs required to feed their people so these individuals come to where the jobs are – this side of the border. They are in the vast majority hard working persons who are filling jobs in some industries like agriculture, food processing facilities, landscaping and housecleaning and other service jobs. These people surely do not like to be here illegally but, on balance, they see a greater need for feeding their families and therefore take the risks involved in illegally entering this country. They have a solid understanding of what is right and what is wrong because of their upbringing with strong family values based and anchored in their religion and traditions.
So, what to do now? Forget another amnesty bill argues one side (it did not work the last time) while the other side wants to put these 11-13 millions on a path to citizenship. Some feel that we should just round up the Illegals and send them back across the border or where they came from while others say: We need these people, they do the work Americans will not do. And so the debates go on and on as are the attempts by the President and Congress to address this national problem.
A more comprehensive, and in our opinion more common-sensical, approach should be based on law and justice without emotion! Let us establish some basic facts first: If we ignore students, visitors and others temporarily living here, we have in the
United States people who can be categorized as follows:
v American citizens by birth or naturalization,
v Legal aliens with “Green cards” who are permitted to live and work here based on visa permits and other immigration processes,
v Illegal aliens who came here, as the word says: Illegally because they broke U.S. Immigration laws!
This group in the third category is simply too large to just round up and send back home, on the other hand their law-breaking should not be forgiven by way of amnesty or conversion to some temporary work related permitting process by giving them guest-worker visas. Besides, a large group will not see a benefit to them in this and will therefore continue to live in the shadow of ‘non-existence’ with false or no papers and passports etc. If we want to address this problem seriously and meaningful, we believe that it will take the following seven points to achieve this goal:
1. Grant legal alien status (Green cards) to all those who are currently here illegally (Yes, it is as much our fault as theirs in that we allowed this to happen by not controlling our borders effectively) with the following provisions:
a. They must have been here at least one year,
b. They must have a job or be willing to get a job,
c. They will pay a fine of $5,000.00 (on payment schedule) for illegally entering the United States,
d. They will Not be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship for at least 25 years,
e. They will receive fraud-proof identity cards or certificates,
f. They will enjoy all the benefits of legal residency in the United States, just not as citizens, i.e., they cannot vote or run for office,
g. They will be processed swiftly within a short period of time by adding personnel to the Immigration and Naturalization agencies offices,
h. They have to swear to abide the laws of this country,
i. They have to attempt to learn to speak and read English.
2. Those who do not come forward and register to receive their legal status within one year will, once identified, automatically receive a three year prison term with Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona (as outlined in #6 below) after which they will be sent back to their country of origin.
3. Those who are living here with family and have children under the age of 15 will be granted the following exception: Their children can apply for
U.S. citizenship after having received a high school diploma and go on to college or have a job.
4. Establish annual immigration quotas for neighboring countries based on verifiable industry needs and process these work related visas in their country of origin promptly.
5. Employers will pay severe fines and penalties (including prison terms) for hiring illegals since fraud-proof identity cards and papers will be issued.
6. Tighten the borders to our neighboring countries so that the continuous flow of illegal aliens will be stopped. Those who are caught trying to come across the border in this manner should be arrested and get an automatic three year prison sentence in the
Arizona desert. In other words, they would get a bed in a tent with a pink outfit in a camp run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Mariposa County. Nationalize these prison camps and pay for them with federal dollars.
7. Strong enforcement of the above provisions by the appropriate agencies of the executive branch and equally strong oversight by the legislative branch of the U.S.Government.
A new law based on the above provisions would solve the problems of the issues relating to immigration etc and it should be acceptable by all parties. It is a mixture of benefits and punishment based on law. The benefits are very large for all parties involved. The current millions of illegal aliens would no longer live in the shadow of society but enjoy the benefits of their new legal status. The penalty of not being allowed citizenship for 25 years should be acceptable by them since they did violate the laws of this country when entering illegally. Furthermore, the above provisions should stem the flow of future illegal border crossings since the price is too high, i.e., the three-year prison term when caught and since hiring will be so much more difficult, they will be encouraged to come here legally!
Some politicians might not like this provision because they would like this group to attain all of the rights of a naturalized American immediately. Let’s remind these “offended politician” that certain rights aren’t granted to everyone that becomes a citizen now, ie; must be born in America to become President. The bottom line is that this soon-to-be-legalized group should not be pandered to by politicians for any reasons. The waiting period would solve this while still providing legal status.
Every person elected by voters to public office swears at the beginning of his term of service to “Uphold the laws of this country”. If laws are made based on truth and justice (and we might add: common sense) and also in accordance with the provisions of the United States Constitution, the immigration related problems would be dealt with appropriately and permanently and should bring a stop to the continuing illegality of not respecting other countries borders. It will be interesting to wait and see now what Congress (under new leadership) comes up with. We here at Back to Common Sense can only hope that politicians will put personal preferences and interests aside and do what is right for America!
This article and others on Back to Common Sense are designed to provoke further thought and investigation. It is not the intent for the articles to be politically biased. Sources are referenced in each article to encourage readers to delve into the supporting material. We welcome all readers to participate with their point of view either in support or contrary with additional information sources.