This major problem, ignored for decades, is now so out-of-control that it threatens America’s security. Failure to properly control the Mexican border has allowed multiple access points for gangs, and illegal drugs to flood into the United States. Terrorists are very aware of this access. Failure to enforce temporary work permits has resulted in millions of illegal immigrants hiding in cities across the country. Children of illegal immigrants, with or without parents, have added a humane urgency to the issue. The threat is not just gangs, drugs and terrorists entering the country illegally, but includes the huge drain on public resources to feed, house, clothe, educate, and provide medical services to the illegal population. Immigration laws are ineffective, and self defeating. Detention centers are overflowing, and the court system, charged with determining each individual’s immigrant status, is overwhelmed.
The threat is magnified by political polarization. Democrats see an opportunity to create a vast new voter base, and are supporting blanket amnesty, and open borders. A growing number of Democratic politicians are ignoring federal law, having declared their cities to be “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants, illegally protecting them from federal prosecution and deportation. Some city and county governments have actually given illegals the right to vote on local matters. California’s governor, and the democratically controlled legislature, have declared their state to be a “sanctuary state” and have even approved the right of an illegal alien to practice law. Democrats, and their friends in the media, want to hide the fact that President Obama could have fixed this problem as he promised when Democrats controlled veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress. Obama did not fix it because he wanted another angry political base to keep his party in power. Republicans can’t agree on any solutions except building a border wall, giving legal status to “dreamers,” and preventing separation of children from parents. It has become politically difficult to develop a comprehensive solution given the number of differing opinions. Even if Republicans agreed on a comprehensive solution, the Democrats wouldn’t support it.
Immigration will continue to be a major topic until the problem is solved. I believe several legislative actions need to be initiated, but it may have to happen in stages over time, given the political agendas of selfish politicians.
First, The border must be secured, and entry controlled. If not, the problem will never be solved. Current policies dealing with illegal immigrants like “Catch and Release” are self defeating, and create unmanageable bureaucratic nightmares. It is insane to allow any more illegal immigrants the same due process that is available to those arriving at legal ports of entry. Illegals should be escorted out of the country immediately without any due process hearing. Americans must be protected from the influx of criminals, drugs, terrorists, and the uninterrupted flow of illegals. It is the highest priority and duty of the federal government.
Second, We need to identify the illegal population already here. The idea that millions of illegal immigrants could be arrested, and deported is unrealistic, and… unaffordable! Mass deportation of a population that has been in the US for years misses an opportunity to solve the need for lower skilled workers. There are jobs available in the U.S. that no U.S. citizen will take. We should significantly expand guest worker programs for these jobs starting with the population living here illegally. This would not grant them the right to vote. That right has to be earned just like any new immigrant. Border enforcement will become much more manageable if visas are available.
Third, Because of America’s low birth rate and longer life spans, there will be huge increases in the Social Security/Medicare population. We need many more workers to fund these programs. This will require a much greater increase in legal immigration, no matter how we solve the illegal population problem. Immigration policy should be prioritized by merit, and skills that America needs, rather than automatic entry by “Chain Migration.” This doesn’t mean that family members wishing to migrate should be denied entry forever. But entry should no longer be automatic, every potential immigrant should be evaluated on an individual basis.
Fourth, We need to accelerate the path to permanent residency for highly skilled foreign students who are now required to return to their own country once their studies have been completed. Most of the highly skilled would elect to stay. They could become valuable employees, and/or potential job-creating entrepreneurs.
Finally, Once the border is secured, and immigration laws are rewritten to address America’s future needs, we should develop a citizenship opportunity for the entire illegal population… providing they have obeyed all other US laws. Illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, and are members of gangs must be deported or jailed. The requirements to achieve citizenship should include a tax-paying job, and economic self-sufficiency. It makes no sense to add welfare recipients to a Socialist voting base, but if given a chance to achieve the American Dream, these people could become outstanding citizens.