The Anchoress – although taking some heat in her email – has had a series of posts on immigration. We disagree profoundly on this issue, but I have to give her kudos for running a clean, respectful discussion. Required registration and moderated commenting is a real pain, but these kinds of discussions are the payouts – minimum vitriol and a “safe” commenting environment allow substantive discussions. So now the immigration bill is dead or dying, we “got our way” hooray, etc. Honestly, I don’t feel victorious at all. More like a cold satisfaction… I truly believe that this bill is that bad for the country. It either needs to be fixed, or killed, but I honestly believe it was much worse than nothing.
But the larger question remains – what next? Oh, vigilance, to be certain that they don’t try to slip another backdoor deal through… and while I think doing nothing is a great deal better than this bill, we could do better still. The Anchoress has been holding commenters’ feet to the fire. Don’t gripe! Propose solutions! Be realistic about problems! Well, here’s my suggestions, and I think that most Americans would find them reasonable and achievable. Whether Congress is willing to stand up to The Chamber, La Raza, and other lobbies to implement them is an entirely different question…
You asked “how” some of this is restated from other comments, but I think this qualifies as a good comprehensive plan. Yes, things can get in the way just as there were setbacks in going to the moon, but I’m a glass half full kind of girl. And I think these proposals are reasonable. What is really required is the political will to do these things.
Start with a big ol’ fence. Yes, some will object. First let’s build it where landowners are clamoring for it to be built. That has the added benefit of steering traffic toward lands where people didn’t ask – and if history is any guide, before long they WILL be asking for a fence. Next, let’s honestly look at the environmental impact of illegal border-crossers on the land and have a real debate on what’s more harmful to wildlife, address the issues at hand. Use eminent domain where necessary; a border fence certainly qualifies. The one designed by the Minutemen is a good start, fortified electronically and with a beefed-up border patrol who are empowered to do their jobs, this will make a real difference. It will take some time, as did building our highway system, but it is easily achievable. The border will never be 100% sealed, but this is a reasonable plan.
*While* that is going on, we can also crack down on law-breaking employers, which will discourage new illegals from entering the country, if they are worried about getting jobs. This also goes FAR toward restoring confidence in the rule of law, and fining the crap out of Tyson and other violators, for example, can help fund associated immigration projects.
*While* that is going on, we should streamline and expedite the legal immigration system. People who have attempted to work through the existing system and have broken no laws should have a security check, if they haven’t already, a health exam, which they are already required to have, and if nothing prohibits them coming in, let them in right now on even better terms than we were just about to give illegal aliens. Permanent residency, fast track citizenship, job placement assistance so that employers who want to hire legal immigrants have a convenient way to do so. In just a couple of years, there has been a major bureaucratic shakeup with the creation of DHS. We can certainly eliminate obstacles and streamline the immigration system faster than we funded, created, organized and staffed a whole new umbrella department.
After all the backlogged fully legal applicants are in (and continue giving them preference throughout), address the problem of visa over-stayers. Make them pay a small fine – anywhere from $1,000 to 5,000, then permanent residency, fast track citizenship. This way we’re still being selective about who we’re letting in, in terms of decent health and reasonable expectation to earn a living, and the taxpayer burden is low to non-existent.
All during this time, illegal immigrants have the option of going home and applying legally. Nothing prevents it. If they are so anchored here that they don’t want to leave even temporarily, then after those who have followed the law have their chance, do the security check, do the health exam, and if they pass give them permanent residency, no chance ever of citizenship or entitlement programs.
No one solution – a fence alone, for example – will solve the problem, but a combination of a fence, improved legal immigration, and employer enforcement, will go far toward solving this problem.
Sound good to you?
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