Immigration: Some Problems, Some Solutions

June 26, 2007 at 8:53 am | Posted in Immigration | 3 Comments

The immigration issue is a complex one, as are most of the issues that face us today.  U.S. immigration policy is complicated, misdirected, and ineffective.  It has resulted in porous borders that allow a stream of illegal immigrants into our country.  It has had a negative impact on our security, our economy, and our society.

In a world where terrorism is probably the greatest threat we face, our porous borders make it easy for terrorists to enter our country, move about as they wish, and perpetrate terrorist acts.  Aside from terrorism, many illegal immigrants commit crimes of all kinds here. Although most are simply looking for a better life, some cross the border on a regular basis to carry illegal drugs to sell here, or to smuggle other illegal immigrants into this country.  These smuggled immigrants face a very dangerous crossing and are frequently injured or even killed by the experience.  Other illegal immigrants commit criminal acts here and some are criminals fleeing from prosecution.

 Whatever their reason for crossing the border, we should remember that all illegal immigrants have broken the law:  they are criminals by definition. Our porous borders have already allowed more than 11 million people to enter our country illegally.  These people pay no income or payroll taxes, but put a great burden on education, health care, law enforcement, and other social services.  Although most illegal immigrants contribute to the economy by spending some of the money they earn here, they send a lot of that money back to their home countries.  Studies show that the difference between what illegal immigrants contribute to our economy and what they cost it is more than $20,000 per individual.  Multiply that by 11 million:  that’s what illegal immigration costs the taxpayers. 

In addition, illegal immigrants lower wages for American workers.  The argument that they take only jobs that Americans won’t take is nonsense:  In many cases Americans would take the jobs if they were paid a decent wage.    There are, it must be admitted, cases where employers are unable to fill jobs with legal residents, but we already have “guest worker” programs for use in such cases.

The argument that low wages paid to illegal immigrants keep the cost of products down is sophistry.  If employers paid a living wage to employees, the cost of the products might go up (or the employers’ profits might go down), but the employers and their employees would be paying for the social services they use, and the employees would not be living in the squalor that most illegal immigrants suffer.  As it is, the American taxpayer pays… and pays… and pays.

 So we need to close the border as quickly as possible.  Congress has already passed legislation that would erect a fence along some 800 miles of the border with Mexico, add border agents, and deploy technology like pilot-less aircraft, video cameras, and radars.  But Congress needs to exercise oversight to ensure that these things are happening as quickly as possible, with a minimum of waste, and without fraud and deception.  The current Administration has taken fraud, deception, and incompetence to new lows, and Congress needs to make sure this job is done right! 

However, even if we closed the border today there are more than 11 million illegal immigrants who are already here, and we have to do something about them.  I don’t want to see us take draconian measures, but illegal immigrants have committed a crime, and should not be allowed to get off without paying a penalty.  We need to deport most of the illegal immigrants, and allow them to apply for immigration lawfully, but with a disadvantage because of their illegal entry.  We need to jail those who have committed crimes here, and when they have served their sentences we need to deport them with no chance of future immigration.  We need to develop a realistic “path to citizenship” for the relatively few illegal immigrants who would face extraordinary hardships if they were deported.

Of course it will be difficult to find most of these illegal immigrants, especially after they discover that they’re not going to get an amnesty.  But there are ways of making them easier to find.  We should:

  • Develop a system for checking immigration status so that employers can easily and accurately check the status of prospective employees.
  • Vigorously enforce the existing laws against hiring illegal immigrants. 
  • Develop a tamper-proof  ID card and tracking system that would allow us to keep track of legal resident aliens, and enable us to ensure that they don’t stay longer than their visas permit.
  • Permit state and local law enforcement personnel to check immigration status when they make an arrest or have probable cause to believe that an individual is an illegal immigrant.
  • Require the Federal government to take illegal immigrants into custody and process them as I discussed above.

These things would make it much more difficult for illegal immigrants to find jobs, and therefore make it less desirable for them to come here illegally.  It would also motivate many illegal immigrants who are already here to leave the country.  They should be allowed to do so (within a specified time frame) without penalty.

 In addition to the 11 million illegal immigrants living here, there are millions of people here on visas that allow them to work.  We need to revise the incredibly complex, tangled web of temporary visa and guest worker programs that are bringing in skilled as well as unskilled and semi-skilled people.  Many of these people are overstaying their visas, and many of them are taking jobs that Americans could fill.  We should work on the principle that foreign workers should be imported only to the extent that an employer can prove there are no Americans available to fill the job.  And we need to revise the immigration laws to favor the kind of people we need as citizens over those who simply want to come here or those who have relatives here. Immigration is a complicated issue.  I’ve made some proposals here, and if you have questions I’ll be glad to answer them if I can.  I hope you’ll write your representatives in Congress, as I have, to give them your advice.  As I have said, it’s easy if you go to http://www.congress.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people communicate with members of Congress.  (No, I have nothing to do with that organization.  I do use their services.)  

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3 Comments »

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  1. I always used to study post in news papers but now as I am a user of web thus from now I
    am using net for content, thanks to web.

  2. I don’t understand why lots of people don’t want some people to live were they do i mean we are all immigrants. I believe that we are equal even though some try to be better another. we are all humans so why not trite each other like humans. Just because some don’t have papers or a green cord don’t mean nothing but papers. At doesn’t make a difference. So why do all this unequal stuff for if u should all be equal it says it on the Declaration of Independence!!

  3. Legal immigrants are not the problem: they contribute a great deal to our country, and most of us welcome them. But we have to understand that there’s a difference between legal immigrants, who have gone through the long and difficult process, and illegal immigrants, who have broken the law to get here.


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