I haven’t heard much discussion amongst conservatives about what must be done to deal with the estimated 12-20 million illegal aliens that are already here. I personally believe that a physical fence can, and should be built, wherever practical, along our southern border. I also recognize that there are some places where it probably doesn’t make sense due to eminent domain issues, cost vs. benefit, etc. In those areas, a well monitored “virtual” fence, combined with “boots on the ground” should do the job effectively.
Once a “fence” is in place however, we still have to address what must be done with the vast numbers of illegal immigrants currently living in our country. Recent attacks on Rick Perry regarding the Texas policy of providing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants provide a glimpse of the passion that surrounds this subject.
Most of what I hear coming from conservatives sounds something like: “build the fence first, and then we’ll have a discussion about what to do with the people that are already here”. And while our country faces issues that most would consider to be more critical at the moment (jobs, the economy, the debt and deficit), illegal immigration has a very real impact on each of these issues. It also clearly impacts national security.
At the risk of sounding like someone who supports “comprehensive immigration reform” (gasp), I believe that we might “matriculate that ball” a little further down the field if we began to float rational, realistic ideas about what to do after we build a “fence”. We might also create additional support and momentum for actually building the “fence”.
Personally, I don’t believe it is realistic to just say we’re going to deport them. It simply isn’t feasible. There are just too many people. There are also some very real family separation issues. And are we really going to send government agents to homes and business to demand papers, round up 12 million people, and put them on a buses?
Before anyone throws rocks in my direction, let me state that I am NOT in favor of amnesty (as defined by some small fine or penalty, and a fast track to citizenship). It is unfair to those that followed the rules, paid their dues, and came here legally. We tried it once, and it didn’t work. And it is just plain wrong.
I believe that there is a much more effective set of solutions, though some will be challenging to enact, depending upon the makeup of the House and Senate.
Here are my thoughts on a set of solutions to the problem:
1. Allow all local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to verify citizenship when making arrests for criminal offenses. Further require all law enforcement agencies share databases and to check the arrest and conviction histories of all illegal aliens arrested for criminal offenses.
2. Outlaw sanctuary cities/states. (I realize that #’s 1 and 2 come with some constitutional issues, however I believe that they could be resolved and that states could be enticed to cooperate.)
3. Deport all illegal aliens who have committed felonies
4. Deport all illegal aliens who commit multiple DUIs, and/or who commit vehicular homicide
5. Deport all illegal aliens with multiple drug use convictions and/or drug trafficking convictions
6. Deport anyone who has over-stayed their Visa, after a 60-day amnesty period
7. Require proof of citizenship for all entitlement programs (much easier said, than done, however I believe that the vast majority of Americans would support it)
8. Improve E-verify, and then require its use by all businesses
9. Overhaul and streamline the country’s Visa program. It must include a requirement to “check in” with local law enforcement on a regular basis.
10. Create a reasonable, workable, verifiable, time-limited guest worker program. It also must include a requirement to “check in” with local law enforcement on a regular basis.
I believe that this combination of policies would entice 90+% of the illegal aliens currently here, to either a) get in the proper line for citizenship, a Visa, or a Guest Worker permit, or b) leave of their own accord.
Anybody else got any ideas?