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Common Sense Immigration Reform

Updated on March 5, 2014
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William has written five books, on topics ranging from technological fiction to office humor, and is the owner of Bayla Publishing.

Current Immigration Policy
Current Immigration Policy

A Hodge Podge

Illegal immigration and immigration policy in general represent issues of growing concern. Much of our law in this regard has been cobbled together over a long period of time, and much of it makes little sense in the context of current realities.

A twelve-year-old who was brought here as a baby and who has now assimilated into American culture is not the same as a radical twenty-something sneaking across the border to do us harm. The same can be said for a college student who graduates from an American university with a physics degree, but then overstays his or her visa.

Though they have many different stories, the oft-cited 11 million illegal aliens are frequently referenced as a monolith. They are not.

Secure the Border

As a sovereign nation, we must secure our borders. Although the issue of border security tends to focus on the Mexican border, nearly 40% of illegal immigration occurs as a result of legal entrants overstaying their visas.

Although it would seem that this cohort would generally represent a lesser threat, since they at least had to pass the initial scrutiny of a visa application, they are nonetheless illegal, and originate from scores of nations.

A Restart

We are a nation of laws, and those laws reflect our constitution, as well as thousands of rules and regulations proscribed to maintain order and to define legal processes. In general, breaking the law incurs punishment, in the form of fines or imprisonment.

Oddly, in the case of illegal immigration the scale of the violation drives a solution that requires ignoring the law. A restart of sorts is proposed in exchange for voluntarily turning oneself in. This restart would by definition reduce by a large amount the number of illegal immigrants.

They would now be...what?

A Path to Citizenship?

The political, legal, and ethical issues surrounding amnesty for illegal aliens are significant, but aside from these concerns, is it fair to those who came here legally?

If you waited patiently in a long line and followed the rules, only to see those who jumped the fence be rewarded, you would be disheartened. The message to others is that rules are for suckers, and as a nation of laws, that is not the message we want to send, and not the reality we want to encourage. For this reason, any path to legal participation should be difficult, even more difficult than coming here legally.

Citizenship for someone who came here illegally should be rare. Perhaps with more extensive costs, such as proving contribution to society over a long period of time, such a privilege could be offered. The issue of citizenship for an illegal alien is paradoxical, as the applicant would become a member of the very country whose sovereignty they violated. Legal residence and citizenship should be two vastly different possibilities for an illegal alien.

Immigration Reform and Washington

The will in Washington to pass immigration reform has been erratic. It is about the only topic which enjoys even a modicum of agreement, but even that agreement is subject to the changing winds of politics. The winds in early 2014 have become unfavorable, and reform looks unlikely to happen this year.

When our leaders once again take up the challenge, sensible immigration policy should include provision for those graduating from U.S. universities, as well as guest worker programs to help fill the needs of relevant industries. Children that have been here for many years, but came illegally through no choice of their own and who have assimilated into American culture should be afforded legal status. Illegal immigrants who have been here for ten years or more without committing a crime, who have been productive members of society, should be offered legal status. They should be denied citizenship except in rare cases.

First secure the border. Without that, the problem will only reassert itself no matter what reform is enacted.

Aliens

Democrats and Republicans see each other as aliens. Nevertheless, there is sufficient common ground to deal with this issue, and a national imperative to do so. Secure the border. Offer a conditional path to legal status. Enforce the law.

It just makes sense.

Immigration Reform

Should immigration reform include a path to citizenship for illegal aliens?

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