I’ve written about immigration before. It’s not a new topic for me.
Since I am one (an immigrant) myself, I am occasionally asked what I think. I figured I’d write it down.
It’s simple: something has to be done if we are to bring an end to illegal immigration. Specifically, three things, ideally four depending on how you look at it, if we are to bring an end to illegal immigration while still maintaining a moral high ground and continuing to promote the American Dream.
The difficult part is that realistically, all three (or four) components MUST be sold as a unit, and even if they are implemented over a period of time, they must be designed not as individual components, but as an interconnected system.
1. Border Security: Stop the flow of traffic
It’s a simple concept, really: stop the flow of traffic. Of course, it’s easy for me to write this as I sit in an air-conditioned cubicle, thousands of miles from the nearest point on the border with Mexico.
I don’t think we need a border across every inch of the southern border, but security does need to be sufficient to catch the majority of people who are attempting to cross without prior approval from USCIS.
I don’t know if that means we need to increase security, or pay our Border Patrol agents more, or give them more technology or resources. I do know that we need a metric to measure how many people are attempting to cross, and we need a reliable method of measuring how many of those aliens (and I use that term because it’s what the Government calls us) are able to cross without interception.
2. Amnesty/Deportation: Handle the people who are already here illegally
Once the flow of traffic is reduced to a reasonably low number — preferably but unrealistically zero — you need a program to identify people who are here illegally, and resolve that issue of status.
Plenty of conservatives will simply say “deport them back to their country of citizenship” (or primary eligibility, if they were born here to illegal parents and ineligible for US Citizenship). That’s one way of resolving the issue, and depending on their history I would agree. The other would be to create a path to citizenship, just as any other alien (who arrived legally) has.
They don’t need immediate citizenship, maybe they begin with a conditional permanent resident status, like I did. Commit no crimes (perhaps grant exceptions for traffic violations), go to school or maintain at least half-time employment or provide valid justification as to why school and work are both impossible. After three years, remove the condition. After another two years, allow an application for citizenship.
3. Reduce the load: Make Legal migration more appealing
Legal immigration is a long and tedious task. It costs a significant amount of money, and takes a very long time with very little communication and results in a lot of uncertainty if you perceive yourself to be needing it urgently. It involves a lot of paperwork, and despite speaking English natively, we still got it wrong a couple of times.
A lot of things can be done to improve that — hire more staff for the USCIS to bring down case processing times. I’ve been waiting nine months for a replacement for my Green Card, and that’s a little bit ridiculous.
Bring the cost of migration down. All said and done, we’ve so far paid somewhere in the vicinity of $2000 USD, and I’m not even a citizen yet. For poor families who are seeking hard work with poor pay that Americans are unwilling to do, it seems only reasonable to bring that price tag down. At the very least, offer a reimbursement of some portion of that cost as a reward for being a Good Alien.
Reconsider what ‘refugee’ status options are available. Many of the people crossing our southern border didn’t originate in Mexico — plenty of them traveled much, much further, from places like Honduras and El Salvador. Some of them wish to perpetuate violence, I believe many of them seek only a better life for themselves and their families by escaping the violence at home. This one may have to involve some kind of treaty with Canada and Mexico to accept blocks of refugees and distribute them across North America.
4. Reduce the load again: Make Illegal migration less appealing
People break the law because of one of two things, and each is subjective based on the person’s own opinions.
- The probability of getting caught is sufficiently low that it is worth the risk of trying.
- The punishment for getting caught is sufficiently low that it is worth the cost of getting caught.
Think about it for a moment — how many people do you know who repeatedly commit criminal acts? I don’t mean people who are caught, I mean people who do illegal things because they think their chance of getting caught is minimal. Or, if they do get caught, they have sufficient resources available that the punishment isn’t going to hurt them too badly.
This is related to #1, increasing the border security, but it isn’t strictly the same. It increases the probability of getting caught, but that’s only half of the equation.
People who attempt to (illegally) cross the border must be punished in an appropriate way such that it discourages them from attempting to do so again (illegally) in the future. I don’t know what that looks like, exactly, whether it’s to reduce the time to deportation, or to put anyone with two arms and two legs on a chain gang for the duration of their stay, I don’t know.
If we are to maintain the moral high ground, we can’t be torturing or separating families unnecessarily, we must treat the prisoners well. But we can treat prisoners in a humane way that is still unappealing and undesirable, and then send them home as quickly as the justice system will allow.
That’s my opinion. You’re free to disagree, but I think that in large part it remains in line with the values of the country I chose to live in.
Again, all four components (especially the first three) need to be done in connection with each other. They must be a single intertwined bill — you can’t say “we’re going to offer amnesty” and then not close the border, it encourages further illegal migration. At the same time, you can’t say “all you illegal people get out” because for the most part, they’re really good at hiding and the border security is sufficiently loose that it won’t be long before they all come back.
And this is where I leave it. Enough rambling for me 🙂