A Proposal For Real Immigration Reform.

Since the Kansas-based group known as F.A.I.R. (there’s some irony for you) convinced the simpletons in the Arizona legislature to pass its immigration law, it has begun peddling it to other states. As of this writing, 12 more states are now considering it.

It’s as if our state legislatures have been taken over by Forrest Gump and Gomer Pyle.

The only good to come out of this mess is that it may force Congress into passing real immigration reform. But it’s not enough for people like me to complain about the Arizona law. We should contribute ideas to real, long-term reform. Here are mine:

Let’s start by recognizing that we can’t (nor should we want to) round up all 12-15 million undocumented immigrants and send them back to their countries of origin. Many of these people have been in the U.S. for decades. They have families here who are legal citizens and they’ve spent more time here than in their countries of origin. Let’s also recognize that, for someone to endure days in the desert or to resort to working with human smugglers, they must be in desperate straits and may need some help. And let’s not lump together hard-working individuals who seek a better life for their families with those involved with drug cartels and other criminal activity.

Let us also admit that, in some ways, illegal immigration has financial consequences for U.S. taxpayers. Undocumented workers not only take jobs from American citizens. Since they are willing to work for less, and without benefits, they force the salary scale downward. In addition, they mostly have no health care insurance. So when they need care, they visit our Emergency Rooms (the most expensive access point to health professionals) and the rest of us pick up the tab.

On the other hand, many illegals work for corporations thereby contributing to lower costs of goods and services.  They pay sales taxes and property taxes.  They also pay income taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes under someone else’s name.  The government is aware of this, but looks the other way because the unclaimed funds help prop up the trust funds that have been repeatedly raided by Congress over many years.

With agreement on most of these issues, we can begin to look for solutions that just may benefit everyone.

First, let’s encourage illegal aliens who have been in the U.S. for longer than 5 years with no criminal history to come forward for residency permits. Let’s provide them with U.S. identification and give them a short period of time (let’s say 2 years) to apply for U.S. citizenship. If they can’t meet that deadline, they should either provide a good reason why they have failed to become citizens or be deported.

For those who wish to come to the U.S., let’s institute a foreign worker program. Our infrastructure is crumbling and these people need jobs. See the connection? Instead of spending billions on more border guards and a fence that is destined to fail, let’s provide these people with foreign worker permits and use the money to put them to work in a way that will benefit our nation. At the same time, let’s institute meaningful punishments for businesses and their owners who hire undocumented workers. If the businesses can prove (and let’s be tough with this) that they can’t operate without foreign workers, they can apply for foreign worker permits that must be renewed annually. Next, let’s create free or low-cost health clinics and other low-cost services. It’s a lot less expensive than paying for ER visits.

Let’s also work with the illegals’ nations of origin and incentify them to engage in helping curtail the problem. It’s not enough to have a border patrol on only one side of the border.

Finally, let’s recognize that the ultimate solution to the problem is to equalize the economies and opportunities in the U.S. and the nations of origin. And, no, I don’t mean bringing our economy down to their level, but to lift all nations and people. But that’s just me. I’d rather pay to help people than pay to punish them.

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