Immigration

Published on May 15, 2006 by

I haven’t posted about politics in a while, but I’ve been thinking about the immigration debate that’s been going on.

First, let me make it absolutely clear that I am not anti-immigrant or anti-immigration. My father is an immigrant, so I’ve always had a soft spot for immigrants. Frankly, if someone is willing to come to our country, work hard, learn English, stay out of trouble, and eventually become an American, I say let them come. So I’m not one of those who wants a moratorium or even a slowdown on legal immigration. In fact, I’d be happy to see an increase in legal immigration.

However, I do think that illegal immigration is a problem. First, there’s the whole border security issue — if it’s easy for people to sneak into our country, that’s not good. Second, there’s the underground economy that developed around illegal immigrant workers. And there are various other problems that I won’t bother to get into, because I want to talk about solutions.

If we want to stop the vast majority of illegal immigration, we need to vastly reduce the incentive for people to cross the border illegally. That means we must not reward people who have entered the country illegally at the expense of those who wish to immigrate but comply with the rules.

Now, there are millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S., and it is next to impossible to have U.S. government agents locate them and deport them through a massive law enforcement effort. But there is a solution — it just requires a little creative thinking.

1. Let’s make it clear that any illegal alien who is caught will be deported, and will be barred from seeking legal entry into the U.S. for five years.

2. For each illegal alien deported, an additional legal immigrant (beyond the normal quota) will be approved and admitted to the U.S. immediately. Such a person must never have been an illegal immigrant.

3. The first person to report an illegal immigrant who is caught and deported under #1 is given the chance to choose who is admitted under #2.

3. Any illegal alien who reports his illegal status and voluntarily leaves the U.S. will be able to immediately apply for legal entry into the U.S., but will be in line behind those who have already applied for legal entry.

4. For each person who leaves voluntarily, an additional application for legal entry from that person’s country will be approved.

Now, if you’ve read carefully, you’ll notice that this plan does not reduce the total number of immigrants in the U.S. — for every illegal immigrant who leaves the country, an additional legal immigrant is admitted. So the plan cannot be objected to on the grounds that it is racist or anti-immigrant.

And while it may be impossible for law enforcement to go out and find all the illegal immigrants in order to deport them, this plan gives a strong incentive for illegal aliens to turn themselves in and deport themselves. Further, by pitting the interests of legal immigrants against those of illegal immigrants, it gives incentives for people in the immigrant communities to report illegal immigrants in order to legally bring in their families or friends.

If this plan were implemented, I think the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. would shrink drastically, and the number of people attempting to enter illegally would fall almost to zero. But, since the illegal immigrants would be replaced by legal immigrants, businesses would still be able to find workers for the so-called “jobs Americans won’t do.”

Now, I’ll admit my plan doesn’t really do much for the people who think there are too many immigrants. But even they must admit that gaining control of our borders is a good thing.

So, that’s my immigration plan. I think it makes more sense than any other plan I’ve seen proposed, so that’s why I decided to break my blog silence on politics to address the issue.

Filed under: General

5 comments on “Immigration”

  1. Jonathan says:

    It makes sense. And of course, it is completely impossible, politically.

    There was a lawsuit filed a few years ago by illegal immigrants against Wal-Mart. I don’t recall ever hearing of an outcome. I was divided on the issue, since I am opposed to excessive litigation. Yet opening the floodgates for illegal immigrants to sue their employers seems to me like one of the most effective ways of discouraging illegal immigration.

    In my experience, fear of lawsuits is one of the most powerful forces motivating a corporation. If a law was passed permitting illegal immigrants to sue a company for punitive damages for employing illegal immigrants, then companies would simply stop hiring illegal immigrants. Similarly, allow illegal immigrant domestic workers to sue their employers. This would dry up the demand for illegal immigrants.

    Of course, this would only be encouraging litigation, which I am generally opposed to, so I don’t think I’d really support the idea. But I think it might be a good approach. I think the illegal immigration problem can’t be completely solved or controled simply on catching them at the border or deporting them when you find them. That seems too much like the failed policies of the war on drugs. I think you have to attack the demand, which means employers of illegal immigrants. So many illegal immigrants sneak across the border because it is so easy to find a job.

  2. You know, that would probably work, at least with regard to major corporate employers.

  3. Kaimi says:

    Eric,

    A big question becomes, what to do when a person has U.S. citizen wife and children. I mean, do you _really_ want to deport a head-of-household breadwinner father of a family of six, in effect creating a single-parent household, one more likely to end up on public assistance, and so forth?

  4. Kaimi,

    A hard case. And you know what they say about hard cases.

    That head-of-household breadwinner father of a family of six had better turn himself in so he can reenter legally as soon as possible.