Monday, June 25, 2012

What To Do About Immigration

The national debate on immigration is one of the divisive topics that result in more rhetoric than actual solutions.  Some on the GOP side seem to be agreeing on certain issues, such as:

  • The need to seal the border prior to other reforms, though the mechanism is still debated
  • Implementing harsher consequences against employers who hire illegal immigrants
  • Deporting those with criminal backgrounds

With respect to those who are here, there is more divergence of opinion.  We hear opinions ranging from calls for all to be deported, to ways of ensuring self-deportation, to thoughts that it simply may not be logistically possible to engage in such a wide-scale effort.

Are We Compassionate?  

How do we reconcile the need for our laws to be enforced with the very real humanitarian issues involving families?  One of the reasons our country has succeeded over the centuries is our adherence to the rule of law.  Throw that out and we embark on the path toward becoming just another country.

Marco Rubio stated in a recent interview that the GOP is compassionate toward illegal immigrants.  Is this consistent with the rhetoric we hear regularly?

What Is The Real Concern?  

There are few issues that raise the emotions on the right as does illegal immigration.  If we understand exactly what the specific concerns are, it may help us devise appropriate solutions.  Which of the following is your number one concern?

  • That the border was crossed illegally
  • That many illegal immigrants are taking entitlements funded by tax payers
  • That illegal immigrants are taking available jobs

There are more issues, but for purposes of this exercise, let's focus on these.  The first concern is that our law was violated.  Fair enough.  What should the punishment be for any law at this particular level that is broken?  But it is more complex than that, because the impact on society continues beyond what can be satisfied by a fine for a misdemeanor.  This leads us to the second and third items which also lead to lively debates.

A Specific Visa Solution   

The intent of this piece to suggest consideration of a solution: a new visa with appropriate guidelines.  Those who are here illegally get a one-time option to apply for this visa, which grants them provisional legal status with restrictions.  These restrictions and guidelines are focused on the above concerns.

  • Holders of this visa do not qualify for federal or state entitlement programs
  • Before hiring the holder of this visa, employers must first advertise the job for a period of a few weeks to allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents the opportunity to apply
  • Holders of this visa must maintain health insurance, either through their employer or privately
  • The opportunity to apply for a green card and permanent residency will be available after several years of compliance
  • Citizenship will not be an option for anyone who crossed the border illegally

If that third one sounds familiar, yes, it's a federal health insurance mandate specifically for holders of this visa.  This would avert the dilemma of people showing up at the emergency room without ability to pay.

The benefits of such an approach are many.  Many illegal immigrants are not interested in citizenship--they are here for economic reasons and would jump at the opportunity to no longer live in fear of deportation.  Those who actually want citizenship will slip back out of the country the same way they came in order to get in line and apply in accordance with the rules.

Still be determined:

  • Is there a cut-off date after which those who enter illegally cannot apply for the visa?
  • For those that do not apply for the visa, what approach do we take, e.g. no entitlements anyway, potential deportation?
  • Would any characteristics of other work or study visas be borrowed for this one or not?

There may be alternative solutions.  What is clear is that the GOP is strong on rhetoric and short on workable ideas.  It's time to change that situation.


Anonymous said...

A very thoughtful post. Thank you for making an effort. I will think about this.


Pissed U.S. Citizen said...

It's all about "Sovereignty", the rest is bull shit.

"We" should be able to decide "Who" and "When" immigrants come into our country.

This isn't debatable and CAN NOT be decided on the fly by individuals who are not U.S. citizens.

Anonymous said...

We DID decide. And we are where we are. Now we get to decide what to do going forward.

Anonymous said...

Great post hamaca

I believe most illegal immigrants are here for economic or political reasons.

As the cartoon shows in a entitlement state immigration is not sustainable. When people get handouts then people are encouraged to not work for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Btw, when I work in Europe,I had to go through that job ad process both to get hired and to hire foreign nationals.

Ohio JOE said...

While I do not agree with everything in your article. It is an excellent post Hamaca. In short I realize that that not all of us who migrated to this great country came here for the same reasons. My goal was to increase my religious freedom, economic freedom and political freedom. I value all 3 freedoms, but many immigrants value only some of these freedoms.

To be sure, Immigration is altimately a federal issue. However, states that have a more capitalistic approach to running their state governments tend to atrract immigrants who are more likely to find a job and produce rather than immigrants who are content to live on state programs.

This is a complex issue and there are no easy solutions, but there are certain things that can be done at the state level to promote the right kind of immigration.