US Immigration Reform – A Fair and Balanced Approach
This is shaping up to be a big political year, first gun control, then the sequester debacle, and now Immigration reform. America is a county of Immigrants, from the first pilgrims to those who arrived on ships to see lady liberty standing tall, to the immigrants of today. We would not be country without them, and our future needs them. However, there is a difference between "legal" immigration, and those who have found other "channels" to set foot on American soil. Our unsecured borders are a highway for illegal drug and gun trafficking. The 12 million plus illegal immigrants pose many challenges for our country. It devalues the efforts of legal immigrants to abide by our laws, it costs Americans higher paying jobs, and it presents a massive security risk for our nation. To solve this issue we need to ask ourselves some serious questions. What do we do with the illegals? How do we stop them from entering? And how did this happen in the first place?
Nearly everyone agrees that we need serious immigration form, but how we accomplish that it up for debate. Recently the Senate released a bipartisan plan to reshape our nation’s immigration policies. This is the first major legislation during the Obama administration that has bi-partisan support. The Senate plan is promising, but needs some tweaks.
The Senate plan forms a good foundation for a discussion, but we can’t just throw some concepts into the air and say, we have a law. This reform needs specifics, it needs bi-partisan support, and it needs to work. We have immigration laws on the books but yet we have nearly 12 million illegal immigrants, so obviously they didn't work. To get a package that deals with everything, it will need bipartisan support. Not everyone will be 100% happy, but that is the definition of a compromise. The new bill should address these concerns, in order: Border Security, Workplace Regulations, Domestic Assistance, and Path to Legalization
It only makes sense to tackle border security first and stop the problem from growing worse, before we decide what to do with those already here. Despite what current Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says about the safety and security of our borders, we have a border security problem. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have over 10 million illegal immigrants in this country, many of whom came from the southern border. Border Security is not a joke and no law should overlook a major part of our national security. If you do not believe the border is unsecure, ask the family of Brian Terry about how secure the southern border is.
Every month, illegal drugs and guns are bought back and forth between the border and illegal immigrants sneak though at controlled access points, or in the open field. This unregulated, uncontrolled influx of drugs and people leads to a needless strain on our national budget, along with additional crime. Our country deserves better. We are a land of immigrants, but more importantly a land of legal immigrants. No Conservative should vote for an immigration bill until significant border security measures are put in place.
Several steps need to be taken in order to be able to say our borders are secure. First we need to increase the number of Border Patrol Agents in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas by 150-200 new agents and fund these individuals with the appropriate equipment and body armor to do the job right. I would second USimmigrationreform.org's call for adding an additional 350 miles of fencing along the US-Mexico Border. America needs to add more inspectors to road, rail, and port checkpoints, especially along the southern border to increase the amount of vehicle/truck, boat, and rail car searches. This will also help our National Security by making it harder for smugglers to get their goods over the border or through our ports.
A recent Supreme Court decision affirmed the right of local law enforcement to enforce existing immigration laws. The federal government and more precisely the Department of Homeland Security needs to strengthen the partnership between local law enforcement officers and border patrol agents. These different agencies need to work together to patrol the massive amount of open territory along the southern border, where many of the illegal gun and drugs cross. Increasing funding to expand current detention centers is also a must.
Besides increasing the number of agents on the ground, we need to combat this problem with technology. To support our agents and local law enforcement in this fight against illegal drugs, arms, and immigrants we need to fund and install a network of infrared/motion detection sensors and radar through the open territory near the border in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
- These can be set to only react to certain sizes of a stimulus, to eliminate false positive alerts and needs to be backed up with security cameras and satellite tracking for manual verification.
- This system would allow border patrol agents to be alerted to the trigger, manually verify situation via camera or satellite, and respond to the area of the trigger appropriately.
- Fund the use of ground penetrating radar to locate tunnels that transverse between the USA and Mexico used to move illegal goods or bodies and use all available resources to close and collapse said tunnels.
Lastly we need to overhaul the Green Card/Visa system. Currently when someone overstays his or her student or work visa, the appropriate authorities are not notified in a reasonable amount of time. With today’s computer technology there is no excuse for this. Automatic alerts can and should be generated when problems occur. Legal immigrants with visas or green cards need to make their residence known to DHS at all times, and their employer school should be required to report them if they suddenly go MIA or if the are no longer in school or employed, for whatever reason. The US should fully implement and fund the US-EXIT Requirement System, create databases of known criminal syndicates, and create better partnerships with other countries to accept their citizens back. Putting in place the above measures will greatly improve our border security and make it more difficult for those seeking to enter our country illegally.
WORKPLACE / DOMESTIC AID REGULATIONS
Illegal immigrants come to America mostly for jobs. Many of them do not want citizenship, just a better paying job so they can wire money back home. In fact, among legal Hispanic immigrants who are eligible to become citizens, nearly 2/3rds have not taken that step. The nationalization rate is half of that when compared to immigrants of every other country. Since finding work, along with receiving domestic aid (like foodstamps) are major reasons why illegals come to America we need to take steps to make it harder for them to do it, and thus discourage potential illegal immigrants from trying. These new rules and regulations will complement the new border security laws by taking away the reasons people want to come over illegally.
85% of Americans support requiring more responsibility for employers to verify the legal working status of their employees. The current I9 form, put out by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a good first step, but is overly simplified. Under the new plan, the I9 should be used to verify the status of all current and new employees by submitting their SS# or other identification number, along with the birth date and taxpayer identification number (if applicable) to DHS for entry into a computerized system. This system should flag automatically and alert the employer to initiate a review if a possible discrepancy is found. The law should require employers/educators to immediately alert DHS if a legal immigrant, whose condition of entry is to hold a job, is fired/laid off from his or her job.
America needs to start holding individuals in addition to organizations that hire illegal immigrants responsible and subject them to fines and prison time. Hiring illegal immigrants hurts American Society. It takes jobs away from legal residents, it adds to the welfare and poverty, and it encourages more illegals to enter. I propose the following to discourage managers from hiring illegally immigrants.
· Allow for the fining and imprisonment of individual managers/directors that contributed to a “culture” of hiring illegal immigrants.
- 0-15 illegals hired (misdemeanor). Punished by up to a 3,500 fine (500min) and/or up to 90 days in jail.
- 16-39 illegals hired (felony). Punished by up to a 6,000 fine (1,000min) and up to 12 months in federal prison.
- 40 or more illegals hired (felony). Punished by up to a 10,000 general fine (4,500min) + up to $1,000 per head and a minimum of 18 months in jail, to a max of 8 years total.
Our government provides welfare to its citizens. Our government recognizes that sometimes people need help. That’s great and all, but it should only be for its citizens. If you walk into a local government human services office you will find forms that say “Don’t Worry, We will not disclose your Immigration status to anyone.” This basically encourages illegal immigrants to apply and get rewarded for breaking the law and entering the county illegally. The US Government should require that all programs that receive federal funding verify the status of the applicants and make it a felony for any illegal immigrant to seek Federal Aid/Assistance. This would include any state run programs that receive federal funding such as Section 8 and Food Stamps. Punishment for seeking benefits reserved for US citizens or legally documented residents should include jail time and deportation.
PATH TO LEGALIZATION
Democrats and many independents support a path to citizenship approach to solving our nation’s immigration problem. In fact, nearly 2/3rds of Americans support some sort of legalizing of those who are already here illegally. This is a fact that Republicans can’t ignore (along with the thumping they took at the polls among Hispanics). While many Republicans can barely stomach the thought of this (including me, I cringe at the thought of rewarding criminals), just remember that a lot of Democrats can’t stomach border control, and we need both for this package to actually work. Recently, some ideas and concepts supported by the President were leaked and the White House received a good amount of backlash about it. While I think its best to let our Congress finally come together on this issue and do their job, some of the details the President was thinking about made sense and I think they should be included.
We can’t “round up” 10 million plus illegal immigrants and deport them. Even if we found them all, the logistics to actually execute that action are nearly impossible. What would serve this Country better is if we were able to know just how many illegals there are, and where they reside/work. We can better manage the situation if we know who we are dealing with. We need to set up a program that allows current illegals to identify themselves, get registered, pay a fine, show proof of residency, and receive a form of valid government ID. This will allow to federal government to monitor who is illegal and know where they live and work so they can more easily find them if needed. It also allows those in the country illegally who are trying to contribute a way to do so legally. This is not a "direct" path to citizenship. Applicants can't vote. It is a program designed to register current illegals and give them legal work visas.The guidelines of the program:
- Set up a 12 month “grace” period where all undocumented individuals can register themselves (and underage children) at designated local offices. Anyone caught after this period without proof or an inability to prove legal status can face immediate deportation.
- All persons registering will plead guilty to federal trespassing and pay a $1,500 fine (to be paid in full within 12 months of the registration date), as well as all back taxes (to be paid within 3 years depending on amount owed) . Underage children are exempt as are those under the age of 25 that can prove they were brought over when they were underage.
- All persons must submit to fingerprinting and photographing to be scanned through the national crime database.Any crime committed on US soil or abroad that would prevent them from legally entering will automatically disqualify them from being accepted.
- They must show legal documents that identify them and their country of origin.
- All applicants must disclose any aliases being used and turn in all fake identification papers and report all federal aid being received
- Immigrants can still be charged and prosecuted for Identity Fraud of a US Citizen.
- All persons registering must submit and pass a drug test to be accepted.
- Applicants must disclose when and how they came to the USA illegally
- All applicants must show proof of current residence and work/school.
- Applicants must maintain their job/enrollment status to be considered in good standing and eligible to remain in the USA.
- Applicants will have 12 months from the original application date to pay the fine and get all of their required paperwork in order and have a job or meaningful contribution to American Society. Those who fail will automatically be disqualified from the program, and subject to any and all penalties for being in the country illegally.
- All qualifying persons who meet all the conditions will now be “legally” in the country and will be given a new, legal ID, taxpayer #, and Immigrant #. This can be used to verify identity and prove legal status. The taxpayer ID number will put them in a different tax bracket that will limit the amount of deductions they qualify for. Parents of underage children, legal or illegal with receive proper documents to identify them as well. The new ID and all identifying number will expire after 8 years of the acceptance date.
- They must give their employer their new information, and return a verified form stating the employer has received and updated their information in the Worker ID Database System and complete a new, updated I9 form. No immigrant can be fired for disclosing their previous illegal status to their employer. The employer will know when the individual's card expires and therefore know when they are ineligible to work. Employers caught allowing individuals to work after there card is expired will be subject to the penalties described above.
Obviously the exact details of this program are not completely hammered out, but I believe the above proposals provide a solid framework for documenting those currently undocumented. If 8 million immigrants registered, it would raise 12 Billion dollars from just the fines, which should cover most of the costs of hiring people to register and process applicants.
Twelve months is more than enough time for applicants to get registered. It also gives people enough time to leave the country if they know they can’t meet the requirements. Before this program is implemented, border security must be in place to prevent a massive influx of illegals from entering the county to take advantage of this program.
Once accepted the applicants will be on an 8 year probation period in which they must maintain their job or academic status (those who graduate can apply for an extension to look for work). They must remain drug free and crime free for the duration of the probation While on probation they will be required to prove current residency periodically.
After 8 years they may apply for a green card and start the naturalization process. If they meet the requirements for naturalization (speak English, be drug free, pay all fines and back taxes, have a job and etc) they will be inserted at the end of the line to those who went through legal channels to be citizens from the beginning. If they do not wish to become a US citizen, they must apply for a temporary work visa to continue working. If they are denied a work visa, they will be expected to leave the county within 60 days.
Once Border Security and current illegal immigrants have been dealt left, we need to revamp the Visa laws that regulate the legal immigration to this country. We need to start by increasing the number of student and worker Visas for those studying/working in high-tech fields like Biochemistry, Computer Science, Healthcare, Robotics, and more. F those who come over to study and are offered a job on American soil, should have their student visa easily changed to a worker visa. America also need to increase its seasonal worker program to allow farmers and etc to hire workers for 1-3 months as long as they show the labor need can’t be met with US Citizens. Policymakers should also look at increasing the number of legal immigrants admitted each year in general, making sure those from every country who want a chance to be American get that chance.
For those individuals, who truly want to be American, we need to set up the naturalization process to be more streamlined. If an individual has been a productive, non-criminal member of our society, and has proved they know and more importantly value the laws of our land, we should make it easier for them to go through the naturalization process. People should know where they stand in line to be US citizens, not stuck in the cobweb of bureaucracy that they are dealing with today.
Immigration reform is a very complex subject. I believe that this plan is fair and balanced, and appeals to the main points of both Republicans and Democrats. The hardest part will be implementing the Path to Legalization, but the main point of that program is to find out who is in our country and to make sure they contribute to America in a positive way. If you support true immigration reform, urge your Representatives to support a bill, like this, that is comprehensive, fair, and balanced.