The President has brazenly abused his power in attempting to legalize lawbreaking, and seeks to excuse his lawlessness based on the GOP’s refusal to enact the kind of reckless solution to the problem of illegal immigration that Democrats have been pushing for years. We should certainly be pushing to defund this effort, but another element of our counter-attack should be to call his bluff and pass our own path to a legal status in a way that actually solves the festering problem of illegal immigration.
It is indeed intolerable to allow millions of people to live within our borders illegally. Some need to return home, some can be allowed to stay. Until we have legislation to sort that out, it will be very difficult to get politicians to seriously enforce the laws because they don’t have a legal basis for distinguishing between new and longstanding illegals. But establishing a legal status for illegals must be done in a way that doesn’t encourage a new wave of illegals to swarm our borders. That wasn’t possible as long as [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] controlled the Senate because he and Obama value illegal immigration as a way to import new Democratic voters and as a way to keep a wedge between Hispanic voters and the GOP. But now that the GOP controls both the House and the Senate, it should be able to unite behind legislation to permanently solve this problem. There are many possible ways to do this, but here are a few principles that should be included, along with some suggestions of how to enact them:
(1) No citizenship. They broke our laws when they came here. Out of mercy we will allow them to stay, but they’ve forfeited the chance to become American citizens. If citizenship is important to them, they can decline legal status, go home, and go through the legal process to come here legally. Any compromise on this point should be to allow citizenship only after either a very long legal residency or extraordinary service to our country.
(2) Legal standing should come at a price that is stiff enough to cause many of those who haven’t established “roots” here to leave, and to demonstrate to new would-be illegals that coming illegally and hoping for amnesty is a worse deal than going through the legal immigration process. Possible remedies could include fines (at least $5,000 per person), annual fees as long as they stay, permanent or long term ineligibility for various government benefits or tax credits. Note that an annual fine could really add up without a path to citizenship. Note also that others could pay the fines or fees – employers, family members, churches, advocacy groups, etc. Or they could borrow money to pay it. No reason to make exceptions for hardship cases.
(3) We need a new enforcement system that can and will be enforced. The employer-based system obviously has not worked, and unfairly burdens businesses while creating an underground workforce. I like the idea of establishing an entrance fee and/or a periodic per person tax on all non-citizens. Illegals can then be prosecuted for tax evasion rather than for immigration. Developing an easy system for businesses to notify the IRS of payments to “independent contractors” would also allow enforcement by the IRS rather than the INS. An alternative would be to make illegal immigration an actual crime, with jail time for repeat offenders – this should also make past deportees ineligible for legal immigration.
It is possible, even probably that legialtion to actually solve the illegal immigration problem would be filibustered by Senate Democrats or vetoed by President Obama. But such legislation could be a very useful tool in defunding Obama’s plan. Moreover, it would do the things he has declared to be necessary without doing the nefarious things that he’s really after. Passing a GOP plan to really solve the problem without inviting a new wave of illegals or creating millions of instant Democrats would call his bluff and force him to debate the real issues.