David Johnson: Solving Summit County’s illegal immigration problem
As reflected in the pages of the SDN, it seems the long-standing problem of illegal immigration is getting some well deserved attention these days. Not just in Arizona, but also here in Summit County. Local published opinions range from the thoughtful analysis offered by Morgan Liddick, to the voluminous and largely emotional rants of Cesar Munoz. Unfortunately, efforts and proposals aimed at a systematic, logical and fair solution are often distracted by manipulative claims of racism. In one recent letter to the editor, Munoz even invoked a goofy analogy to Adolf Hitler, hoping desperately to dissuade any enforcement of existing immigration law. I have come to the conclusion that open border proponents who passionately desire amnesty and citizenship for all illegals are unable to build a logical argument for that case. Instead, they tend to retreat to the comfort of name-calling and accusations of racism. Sadly, for the open border advocates, it seems the perceived risks are too high that any immigration reform might include even modest negative consequences for those illegally residing in the US. Better to call names, hurl the “profiling” grenade, claim racism, and hope for the best. Apparently, that beats any balanced discussion on how to fairly and effectively deal with the estimated 13 million immigration law violators in the US today.
So, how do we fix this unsustainable mess?
Five key actions can be taken which I believe will resolve the problem within a five-year time horizon:
1) Secure our borders. This is primarily a question of will and resources. Stopping illegal entrants at the border will likely involve a large increase in Border Patrol staffing, fences, technology, and rapid deportation of those detained. This effort has the additional benefits of reducing drug smuggling and the potential entry of terrorists.
2) Turn off the magnet. Enforce existing laws and enact new ones that specifically prohibit extending taxpayer funded social welfare benefits to illegals and their anchor children. Hold government social welfare workers accountable for checking immigration status; pursue legal action against violators. Enact whatever legal and/or constitutional measures are needed to stop the misguided practice of allowing offspring of illegals to automatically become US citizens. Illegals, and their offspring, should be identified and deported.
3) Establish a guest worker program. Existing illegals, and prospective immigrants, could apply for guest worker status consistent with the needs of the US economy. With high current unemployment, the number of guest workers would be minimized to give legal citizens preference in filling jobs. During periods of economic expansion, guest worker numbers could increase. Once accepted as a guest worker, immigrants would no longer work in the shadows and under the table. Instead, they would become legal and tax-paying workers. As a guest worker they, and their families, would not be eligible for social welfare benefits of any kind. Any illegal acts or tax evasion would lead to immediate deportation and a permanent ban from re-entry into the US.
4) Require reciprocity from countries sending guest workers to the US. For example, the US guest worker program would be available to Mexican citizens only after Mexico adopted similar immigration provisions allowing US citizens to legally live, work, and open businesses in Mexico. No doubt there would be more interest by Mexicans in working as guest workers in the US, however, in the interest of fairness and equity, Mexico would need to open its doors also. Currently Mexico has immigration laws that are largely similar to the US, but better enforced. US citizens have no legal right to work in Mexico without going through a painstaking work visa process.
5) Hold employers accountable. Employers found hiring illegal workers would be treated harshly. Large fines plus jail time for owners. Owners would be invited to request and sponsor guest workers when the existing local workforce was insufficient.
These steps would put us on the road to a more rational immigration policy. Otherwise, we continue to spiral down and end up nearly bankrupt like California. Let’s stop the childish and distracting claims of racism and start constructive reforms.
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