As I said up top, one of the big problems with our current immigration system– that’s a gross misuse of the word “system” but I can’t help it– is the designed function is to increase diversity in the immigrant populations. How many people from which countries are allowed in depends on how many we’ve gotten from that country lately. The best and most fitting description of that I can think of is “manifest insanity.” Diversity is a ground condition, not a goal. The goal we should be shooting for is a net benefit model. The Senate bill Democrats love to prate about is nothing like the name they like to use for it, “comprehensive immigration reform.” What it actually is is a benefits transfer scheme to put taxpayer’s money in the pockets of unions, crony capitalist corporations and immigration lawyers. It’s dressed up with some enforcement language, but this can not be trusted considering all the current immigration law not now being enforced. The House is right to not even consider the Senate bill. We need to start anew and write something that works both for immigrants and the country, if not strictly for the Democrat Party.
They call this place the melting pot; we area nation of immigrants and we are stronger for it. This is, in fact, one of our greatest strengths. I am not opposed to immigration at all, but I strongly oppose lawbreaking. So just what is it this country needs in an immigrant? Honesty is good. Law abiding, hard working, competent, educated, skilled, all of these are good. People with close blood kin who are citizens are good too. We also need low skill agriculture workers as well, but they don’t have to be offered citizenship, necessarily. One of the things we really need to do is is obviate the anchor baby problem. We are the only major country in the world who offers citizenship to anyone who was born here, no matter how or why. If a plane en route from Canada to Latin America makes an emergency landing, and a pregnant woman aboard gives birth while they’re fixing the aircraft, the child is a citizen. If an illegal alien, unlawfully resident in the country, gives birth while she’s here, the child is a citizen. That’s wrong, and we need to fix it. Comprehensive reform would include some necessity of ties to the country before conferring citizenship.
I do not propose to undo the rules for asylum. This country is, and should be, a haven for the oppressed; but I would limit it to those fleeing the Four Horsemen, and not include mere economic opportunists. I would also maintain citizenship rights for honorably discharged immigrant veterans. There’s no better way to prove loyalty to a country than donning her uniform. We already have a program where an alien can attain a residency permit by investing a given amount of money in a US business and come here to operate it. Hard work, earning a living and paying one’s taxes are good qualifications for citizenship; that program should be expanded, and give a fast track to citizenship after some number of years. Other rules I would not undo is passing a civics exam, and speaking good English.
As for the number of immigrants allowed in each year, and where from, this is a matter for the political debate and that’s why we have a Congress. I don’t propose to offer any suggestions. I will say, however, a person with a master’s degree in Information Technology should have a higher priority than a zero-skill day laborer who happens to have a cousin who’s a citizen, or a person who happens to be from a country from whom we do not get a large number of applications for citizenship. That’s the key, I believe, to having our immigration system make the country stronger rather than weaker. We need people who are going to generate economic activity, not soak it up in government benefits. To that end, we should also make a bigger effort to hang on to aliens who are educated here. If you get an advanced degree in the STEM fields– I’m not talking about a Doctorate in Lesbian Dance Theory or a Master’s Degree in Social Justice– you should also get a Green Card stapled to it. Stay here for a while, get a job, pay some taxes, and we can work a deal for citizenship as well.
One thing I do suggest is we should establish a class of part-time residents, say 4 to 6 months each year. Such persons should not be in line for citizenship, but should be allowed to enter and leave the country freely within their time allotment, and work or go to school here. This would accommodate the agriculture workers the farmers keep begging for. I live in Texas, and I know this is true: there are a lot of illegals who come here for a few months to work doing landscaping or in the fields, for what Americans consider starvation wages, and then go back to Mexico and live like kings on US dollars for the rest of the time. When they run out of money, they jump the border and have at it again. The fact is, they like it here well enough, and they’re making better money than they can get at home, but here is here, not home. They don’t really want to be citizens, they live somewhere else and don’t care to move away from family and friends. They just want access to the economic benefits they can get here part of the time. Those in this class who pursue citizenship generally do so only because they don’t have an option without breaking the law. We should accommodate this desire. Living in Texas as I do, I can tell you there are a lot of people who think the Rio Grande is a river, not a border. They have kin on both sides of the river and they move back and forth as chance and need allow.
There is another class of professionals in a similar situation. These people came here for school, but they don’t live here, or want to, really. They want to take their skills home where they came from and use them to make their own country a better place. Still, though, they’d like to come back here for a couple of months a year, or 6 months every two or three years. They want to take some CEU’s and brush up their education; go to seminars and rub elbows with their professional peers; buy things useful or necessary in their specialties which are not available on their local economies and so forth. We should accommodate this as well.
So, there it is. I don’t claim to have all the answers. Nor am I the kind of person who would force others to bend to my will. But it is plain enough our current immigration system is broken, and still would be even if we were enforcing it, because it’s poorly designed. We need a wholesale re-write, and we need to be paying more attention to benefiting America rather than benefiting other countries or their citizens when we do. I think this is the shape of the discussion we need to have, but I am content to allow the political debate fill in the details. I welcome your comments, and feel free to point out my errors and omissions.