My simple idea for immigration reform

I believe the following idea would work both as a political solution as well as a policy solution:   The democrats believe we should be more compassionate towards illegal immigrants and allow them to stay here, and republicans believe too many people, both citizens and non-citizens, are dependent on the welfare state in this country.  Why can’t these two different beliefs be combined when it comes to immigration?  Congress could pass a law saying that we won’t deport any of the illegal immigrants who are already here except for the criminals, but that they won’t be eligible for any gov’t benefits unless  a)they apply for a work permit and get a job or   b)until they become a citizen and go through the process all the current legal immigrants had to go through.

Furthermore, the law could say that all illegal immigrants in the future would also not be eligible for gov’t benefits, but instead could apply for work visas through a new work visa program for low-skill workers, which is the majority of the immigrants who come here illegally.  This way, if people from south america who want a better life for themselves and their families wanna come here, they would be paying into the system and not adding to the already huge burden of the welfare state.  They would have the freedom and economic opportunity this country provides that their home country does not, but they would have to be willing to work for it.  We would no longer provide a huge safety net for them because we just can’t afford it, plus it’s not fair to the american citizens who rely on that safety net since it’s taking resources away from them.  If the illegal immigrants succeed in moving up the economic ladder, then they’ll be prosperous and eventually be able to become citizens and enjoy all the benefits that come with that.  If they fail or just give up, or just aren’t willing to work hard and play by the rules, then they’d have to go back home, but at least they’d be given the chance to succeed like the rest of americans have.  That sounds fair to me.

If we catch an illegal immigrant here in the future, we would give them the option of applying for a work visa, and if they aren’t willing or able to work, then we’d deport them, it’s that simple. Even if they’re coming here because they have family here, we can’t just let everyone from surrounding countries in because they have family, that would overload the system.  Of course we could make exceptions for extreme cases, which is what the prosecutorial discretion Obama is falsely claiming now is all about.  Plus, it would incentivize more people to come illegally because they could come here on a work visa and then tell the rest of their immediate and extended family to follow them, which would undoubtedly involve millions of kids and elderly people who aren’t able to work.  So we have to have limits in our immigration policy, no matter how politically unpalatable that might be, but I don’t see why that has to prevent us from reaching the kind of compromise I described above.  We just need smarter people in Washington who are sincere in their desire to find solutions to the problems the country faces and are creative thinkers who can come up with ideas that both parties can support and that actually solve the problems we face rather than postpone or make them worse.