I don’t remember a time when we haven’t been talking about Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Both political parties use the term and at different times each party has proposed legislation that ultimately failed to pass both houses of Congress. I don’t know whether the content of Republican sponsored reform compared favorably with Democrat sponsored reform.
The fact that both parties drafted legislation would suggest there is common ground worthy of keeping the negotiations going. So what were the sticking points that prevented completion?
Why do we call it Comprehensive Immigration Reform? Why don’t we just call it Immigration Reform? So what’s wrong with our existing Immigration legislation?
From my perspective there isn’t a problem with our existing policy. There might be some issues with the number of folks we allow to emigrate from foreign lands, but the process appears sound. That would suggest the issue isn’t immigration reform at all.
In the context of the national debate the two issues are Border Security or a lack of it on our southern border and the large number of Mexicans who have entered our country illegally and have been allowed to stay for many years with the full knowledge of the government. The justification being the need for workers willing to do jobs “Americans” wouldn’t do.
The truth is the old system worked well for Mexican workers who came over the border to work for the season with some sort of seasonal work permit and then returned home for the winter. The agriculture interests needed seasonal workers and the permit system was one solution that worked but was abandoned in the 1980’s.
I had personal experience in the 1970’s of working on a corporate farm in Central Oregon where there were migrant workers who started in the spring harvesting something in Arizona and worked their way to the Canadian border as the harvest progressed north. In my case we had a couple dozen Mexicans harvesting potatoes. The important consideration was the fact that there wouldn’t have been work for those guys before or after the harvest. They would have been temporary hires for a couple weeks and they would have been laid off. The temporary worker permit system worked.
For me, the bigger issue is a lack of border security. The vast majority of illegals who cross are Mexicans but there are some folks other than Mexicans who also cross whose intentions are not just working in America but maybe harming America. Border security is a high priority for most countries in the world. The penalty for illegally entering many countries is incarceration for lengthy terms.
On our southern border we don’t send you to jail when you enter America illegally, we send you to college.
In my view the Comprehensive part of Immigration Reform is the dilemma of ten million illegal aliens who have lived here so long their kids are graduating from high school and college and who are now finding themselves in the spotlight. What do we do with all the folks who have been well behaved illegal aliens who have become contributing members of our society?
Once again it’s my view that people who enter this country illegally can never become citizens. We might grant Mexicans resident alien status that allows them to live and work here but if they didn’t enter through proper channels they can never apply for citizenship. How we might deal with foreigners of other origin is up for discussion.
And because these illegal aliens came into the country illegally they are classified similar to convicted felons in that they are never granted the right to vote or own a fire arm. I don’t insist on calling them felons but the restrictions we put on felons should apply.
Amnesty is not an option for me. There must be consequences for jumping the line and breaking the law which might also include a monetary penalty.
The bottom line for me is we don’t have to kick all of them out of the country but we do need to identify them and give them proper identification that includes fingerprints and or DNA so if they mysteriously disappear into the country there will be some way to identify them when they do turn up. The argument that aliens of any kind should not be required to have proper documentation on their person at all times when they are in public doesn’t work for me. The feel good folks would have us believe that it’s inhumane to characterize illegal aliens as criminals but we don’t hesitate if the person breaks into our house or damages our property. What is breaking into our country?
If all they want to do is work and raise their families in America and give their kids the chance to realize the American Dream the restrictions I outline here shouldn’t be a problem. The alternative is to uproot their families and go back to Mexico where the kids might be treated like foreigners.
The opportunity to become a US citizen should be a privilege reserved for aliens who entered through proper channels.