11 August 2010

What should Immigration “Reform” look like?

In a recent post, I talked about what South Carolina could do (as a state and individual communities) to fight illegal immigration from non-federal levels (in the absence of any solid federal leadership on the issue through the last six administrations…)

But that begs the question: If there is to be immigration reform, which virtually everyone agrees needs to happen in some form or fashion, what should those “reforms” look like? I’ve tackled this issue in a post for SCHotline about 4 years ago, but that blog is gone now, so let’s revisit with four more years to ponder it.



I’m not saying put tanks and fighter planes on the border, or issue shoot on sight orders. I am saying build a double fence the length of the southern border with enforceable points of entry. Then staff it properly. Border enforcement is a valid use of taxpayer dollars, but one that has been badly neglected by every administration since Carter. I’d much rather spend resources protecting the country from an invasion than on stimulus packages for bureaucrats and special interests. This is an act of will that simply requires a government willing to enforce the law and a Congress willing to pay for it. This should be a no brainer, but it never gets done.


We need to take a hard look at the bureaucracies that have failed to date. I’ve heard horror stories from plenty of legitimate immigrant applications that take far too long to get approved. We need to make it harder to get here illegally, yes, but we also need to make it easier to get here legally or understand why an application has been denied. This is the carrot in the carrot and stick approach. Mandate that applications have to be dealt with in a certain amount of time, and then lets have Congressional oversight to ensure that those metrics are met.


Why have deportations gone down since Eisenhower was President? Has every President since simply not cared enough about the issue? No one is saying you can deport 20 million illegal immigrants all at once. Start by enforcing the law. The current Arizona situation proves yet again that when the laws are enforced a large number of people will self-deport. That’s a good starting point for this process.



I know this will come as a surprise to some (since I’ve been a pretty vociferous critic of our Senior Senator over the years) but Senator Graham is absolutely right on the need to tweak the definition of the automatic birthright citizenship of the 14th Amendment. You can do very little to fix to current mess without handling the Anchor Baby/Birth Tourism issue. Bob McAlister has done a great piece on this issue; The Heritage Foundation says it can be done with clarifying legislation (as opposed to another Constitutional Amendment) – and George Will agrees. What needs to be clarified is that only the children of citizens or permanent legal residents gain automatic citizenship; anyone else needs to go through the naturalization process – complete with application.


Short an overhaul of welfare reform that would stop subsidizing laziness in the general populace, we’re going to still need someone to do the jobs that are currently being done by illegals (in South Carolina, this is predominantly peach picking, chicken plucking, and construction). What we need is to be able to have these be done by people who are here legally, who will pay their fair share of taxes while they’re here, and who will go back home when they’re done. Such a program would involve employers being able to bring in workers to do specific jobs for specific time periods before returning to their home countries. Reforming the bureaucracy is a must before you do this because otherwise, no one will get to work on time. Ending automatic birthright citizenship is a must before you do this, as you want the guest workers to bring their families for maximum societal stability and economic gain without creating permanent anchors.


There are plenty of paths to citizenship now. We don’t need to create more, and more importantly, we don’t need to reward those who have come here illegally by letting them stay. If they want to work here, they’ll need to apply under the guest worker program. If they want to immigrate here, they’ll have to go back to their home country and apply from there like everyone else, going through the background checks and fulfilling the application process along the way.

As an aside, let’s define amnesty. Amnesty is defined as allowing the criminal to keep what they’ve stolen. In this case, the illegal alien has stolen a place in the country. “Amnesty” is anything that lets them keep it – even with “fines, back taxes” or whatever other artifices are attached to the process. Put me down for no amnesty; it’s a perversion of the rule of law, and it should be unacceptable to a modern society based on law.


Let’s face it, the current system invites more attacks. Until we can be certain that the jihadist threat is behind us (and it certainly isn’t yet), it behooves us to protect ourselves. This means no more student visas (like the ones used by 9/11 attackers) or permanent resident visas for those who are coming from high risk countries, unless they can certify a status worthy of asylum. This isn’t racial profiling – it’s religious profiling; it’s important to remember that our rights as a nation to survive outweigh the religious rights of non-citizens who seek our demise but want to live here in the meantime. The Constitution, after all, wasn’t a suicide pact.


Other things that I suppose could be included in an acceptable form of a “comprehensive immigration reform” might include changing the current system to more of a points based system (more points for a college degree or needed work skill, for instance). We also need to emphasize English only in our immigration system – if you want to live here, you agree to become part of our culture and that means communicating in our shared language. English proficiency (using forms printed only in English, giving tests using only English) should be mandatory for immigrating to the US and for citizenship.

Agree? Disagree? Want to discuss? Comments are open below…

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