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The Immigration Controversy: One View from Just Left of Center
I have held off writing this as this is one topic where I consider myself more conservative rather than less. I guess that I did not want people to get the wrong idea…
The issue at this time is the over 11 million undocumented immigrants that current live and work within the United States. Both sides of the political divide have good points as to whether and how we provide a path to citizenship or not. Here are a few of my thoughts.
While this is a never ending job, we still need to take it seriously as the first step toward reform. What is the point of trying to deal with people that are already here when you have a human faucet that is still running? Penalties may need to be increased and the Stalag 13 approach dispensed with as the outcome. In an ever increasingly dangerous world, border security has to be something we must take seriously beyond just the immigration aspects. I am going out on a limb here when I say that our time honored concept of automatic citizenship given to anyone just born on American soil may be a quaint concept belonging to an earlier and simpler time. There may no longer be a place for it in a modern industrialized world. I am aware that this will conflict with the provisions of the 14th Amendment. We must have the legal minds of our society interpret what ‘born here’ is to mean in light of our current crisis and the future. It has been a lure for many to break the law. I believe that a border fence from Tijuana to Southeast Texas is draconian. We should use our ample technology and manpower to stem the tide. This also applies, of course, to other areas of access outside the Mexican/U.S. border.
The Path to Citizenship
The first point I want to make to Conservatives is that the idea of rounding up and deporting so many millions of people is expensive and impractical. It conjures up visions of pogroms and such which are outside of the American tradition. Here are a few sub points:
Bring these people out of the shadows:
For many reasons, policies need to be crafted to encourage those that hide from the fear of deportation to come out into the open and be identified. This is to be done for their protection as well as a first step to solving the problem. We need to eliminate their exploitation by unscrupulous business concerns that use their labor in a way that they couldn’t otherwise. It will rid us of the underground economy associated with that. The people would receive an authorization in the form of a license allowing them to work for a specified period of time and their compensation and protection would be the same as that for any citizen. These folks would no longer have to live in fear. But, of course, those that continue to not identify themselves are criminals and the appropriate penalties must be brought to bear.
Penalties for those that knowing hire illegals without the work permit
This needs to be more than a ‘slap on the wrist’. The penalties must be a strong incentive to culprits to move away from ‘business as usual’. If we are serious about undermining the underground economy, this is necessary. Rather than to continue to look the other way, this has to be taken seriously. Business needs to be aware that violations will insure that their business activity will be taking a turn for the worse. This will also send a message to those coming here for work that outside of authorized channels, work will be hard to find. This would help staunch the flow.
Provisional Citizenship Arrangement
First of all, while I consider that a path to citizenship is a necessary outcome, I never believed it to be fair that people who are here illegally should be rewarded in such a way that those that apply for citizenship using the proper channels are at a disadvantage. There has to rational process and as part of the ‘path’ a penalty should be included. I know how irritated I get when people cut in line when you have been waiting patiently to conduct your business.
Many of you recall that when you were 16 you received your minor operator’s driver’s license. Well, in Colorado, there is a provisional driver’s license one receives that is applicable for drivers between the age of 18 and 21 years of age. These licenses restrict driving options and privileges for those that bear them which are not imposed upon those drivers over 21 years. You can lose that license with a fewer number of point violations than would be the case for the adult license. With the minor operators’ license, you are restricted as to what hours of the day you can drive.
My provisional citizenship idea works upon these principles. The bearer would hold this license for 7 years (a good round number). They would either have to pay an additional tax on their income and/or forgo benefits otherwise available to citizens. The money acquired from such a tax could be used to fund costs of the general program and otherwise recompense the American taxpayer. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and agree with the idea that these are generally very hard working people that in many cases do the work that many of us would not begin to consider. But, fair is fair. I did mention earlier that I want these people to be fairly compensated for their efforts.
In deference to the cultural conservatives, the right to the franchise is withheld until the provisional period ends. This will encourage those in the program to learn English and properly assimilate themselves into American life. I, just as conservatives do, want to avoid the appearance that these people are to be in eternal deference to one political party or the other. The time will allow superficial allegiances to be avoided. Maybe, I can see an end to crusades that I found quite annoying such as protests from these groups that compared their issues to that of the Civil Rights Movement, for example. I am all for ‘human rights’ which is part of the reason that I support a path to citizenship. But, civil rights has as its foundation the fact that you are an American citizen.
The program is to be managed administratively, there should be few if any circumstances where any level of the judiciary process is involved. If someone in the program breaks the terms of the provisional arrangement, involvement in crimes, etc, that person can be deported without a great deal of fanfare. Stay out of trouble with the law and make the maximum effort to remain gainfully employed with minimum additional cost to the taxpayer for 7 years and you are free to step into the sunshine.
Please share your thoughts on this timely topic.