With regard to illegal immigration our number one problem is a "do nothing" Congress that has been doing nothing through several sittings. They could have done something back during the Bush Administration, but they didn't. They could have done something over the last year and a bit, but they didn't. They are not likely to do anything this summer.
So, while we are waiting for Niki Tsongas and John Kerry and Scott Brown to do something, here is my proposal for dealing with the problem of illegal immigration and the problem that it is the poster child for, insecurity on our borders, and in particular on our southern border.
- Legalize drugs. What, you ask? In terms of border insecurity, the movement of illegal drugs up through Mexico or from Mexico into California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas is a major problem and it has not been getting better since we initiated the war on drugs, back in time to 1969, when President Nixon first used the word. Not only is it soaking up law enforcement resources, it is depriving the Federal Government of needed revenue, which would come to us from a reasonable tax on things like marijuana. I would agree that being high on drugs, like being drunk, should not be acceptable when driving or when at work. But, those are different laws from the prohibition on drugs we now flaunt.
- A Marshall Plan for Mexico. It is my suspicion that most Mexicans (they represent 65% of the illegal immigrants) and others come here not because we are the beacon of liberty but because they are either fleeing local violence (see item 1, above) or need work to support their families back home (or who came with them). We are talking economic migration. If there were good paying jobs at home they would have stayed at home. It is not skin off our nose or money out of our pocket, in the long run, if Mexico prospers, unless you are looking for a cheap place to retire. If we help Mexico double their per capita GDP we will provide markets for US goods and will encourage Mexicans to remain Mexicans in Mexico.
- Legitimize the Illegal Immigrants.Well, most of them. We should set up a path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants in the United States. It shouldn't be easy, but it also shouldn't be ridiculous. In fact, we should offer three tracks—(a) Citizenship, (b) Guest Worker Status, and (c) Illegal Immigrant Status.
- Those who choose to become US Citizens should be assessed a $2,000 fee for the paperwork involved in legalizing their status (and the expunging from the records anything about their past illegal status). They should be prioritized at the end of the queue for Citizenship. I would take all the current people who are on the list legally and add 10% to that number and then place the illegal immigrants at behind all of those people. Those who have been patiently standing in line should not suffer for doing it the right way. Then I would give them a test, in English, and an interview, in English. Finally, I would ask them to renounce all other allegiances. (I know that this is different from the process for others becoming US Citizens, but it is so we separate out the economic migrants from those who really wish to be Citizens of these United States.) Then I would swear them in and make sure their new Social Security Account Number is matched up with whatever bogus number they might have been using previously, so their past earnings are recognized.
- As for those who pick the status of Guest Worker Status, I would first assess a $2,000 free for the paperwork involved in legalizing their status (and the expunging from the records anything about their past illegal status). Then I would give them a choice of status, for up to 50 years as a guest worker, but not past the age of 67. If they request a status of more than ten years, then at the tenth year I would require that they pass a test in spoken English. For more than 20 years, a test on reading English as well. For those who would remain in this country for more than 30 years, I would expect them to demonstrate an understanding of our system of Government, by expecting them, by the 30 year point to pass a test similar to that for Citizenship. All agreed on ahead of time. And, I would allow a fast track process for conversion from Guest Worker Status to Citizenship after the ten year point and the payment of an additional fee for paperwork. In the law I would state that this right of conversion is a solemn commitment on the part of the Government of the United States, not to be taken away.
- Finally, those who choose the status of illegal immigrant, I would arrest them and put them in jail and then deport them to their home nation. I would bar them from reentry into the United States for ten years. For twenty years if they were convicted of a felony while in the United States.
And, I think it might pass muster with my late Mother.
Regards — Cliff