Immigration Solution: Thoughts and Ideas

This country faces many challenges at this time in our history. Whether it be healthcare, Social Security, the War on Terror, or the tax system, there are several areas where our nation must be improved. But there is one hot-button issue that stands out in the minds of many Americans: immigration.

It’s a complicated dilemma. Millions of people have crossed our borders with the hope of pursuing freedom and a chance to better themselves and the lives of their children. What could be a more noble cause than that? Immigrants are typically hard workers that want to earn money for their families. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. I wish more Americans held such strong ideals. Some Americans are simply content with living off the government and not working, and thus not contributing to society and our economy.

But on the other side, these immigrants have entered our country illegally with no intention of leaving. They do not pay taxes and many have not chosen to learn English. As a result, they have placed a significant burden on the rest of our country.

How can these deep concerns be remedied?

There has to be an answer to this problem. Granting amnesty to illegal aliens demonstrates a immense disrespect for the rule of law. Therefore, we cannot afford to overlook the face that these immigrants violated our rules and regulations of our country. At the same time, it is simply not feasible to deport all of them to their home countries.

The immigration legislation that failed twice in the U.S. Congress is a prime example of the fact that Americans are unhappy with the way our government wants to handle this problem. I know that personally, even as a Republican and someone voted for President Bush, I was extremely dissatisfied with his support of that legislation.

As an alternative, I’d like to point out some basic aspects that a realistic and reasonable immigration bill would need:

First, a debt must be paid. Our laws have been broken and we’ve essentially been robbed the lack of revenue that should have come from the taxes paid by immigrants. Assessing fines and back-taxes is not only fair, it is necessary.

Second, the complete rights and privileges of American citizenship should not be granted until they actually become citizens. That may sound draconian, but on the contrary, I think it gives these potential citizens a goal to progress toward. I believe that you if make them earn the rights of citizenship, they will appreciate their rights much more as well.

Third, employment of the immigrants must be taken into consideration. What I mean is that the immigrants who are currently working should be allowed to continue working. However, they should only be allowed to continue working for their current employer if they acknowledge that their status as an illegal immigrant and express the intention of becoming a legal citizen.

Fourth, immigrants must be required to learn English. Everyone knows that English is the most widely used language in this country. In order to function at an optimal level in society, it would be in their best interest to be proficient in the English language. While it would be very profitable for Americans to learn Spanish, we should not be forced to do so since we already have an established language.

Fifth, the border must be secured. The best technology available must be used for surveillance. A border wall (it sounds better than a fence) should be erected as well.

I would suggest a system where illegal immigrants must turn themselves in to a government agency expressing the intention of becoming a legal and naturalized citizen. They must register with a government database and obtain an identification number and ID card. If they are currently employed, they must inform the government with their employer information, and the government would in turn notify the employer of the immigrant’s status. The immigrant must check in with a government agency every month in order to notify the U.S. of their whereabouts, employment status, etc. They also must take nightly classes to learn English and American culture.

If the employers of illegal immigrants fail to comply or they continue to hire workers that fail to comply with this program, they will be punished severely. A temporary worker program can also be established for those who wish to return to their country of origin from time to time.

This may sound a lot like the failed immigration bill. And frankly, the bill had some good aspects to it that I would integrate. But there are some things I would do differently.

I’d make the “Z Visa” completely temporary. The bill does claim to give the immigrant “temporary status,” with the Z visa. But that’s operating under the impression that they will complete the steps necessary to continue the process. I would put a specific expiration date of 5 years or less on the Z visa in order to insure that they do not plan to remain in the U.S. indefinitely. The Visa could be renewed, but only if significant progress towards citizenship is demonstrated.

Instead of making them leave the U.S. to complete their application for citizenship, why not let them stay here? I know that sounds unusual coming from a conservative, but they are already here and they’ve been here. Why not let them stay to complete the application?

I would also suggest severer punishment for failing to initiate the process of legal immigration. For instance, I would deport all those that did not comply with this program.

The bill is right in making sure that the current backlog of legal immigrants is cleared before these new and formerly illegal immigrants were allowed to enter. I would strongly advise that measure as well.

As I said before, I would not award these immigrants the full rights and privileges of American citizenship until they complete the process. This means they would not have the right to vote, hold office, own a firearm, qualify for Social Security, etc. While I’m sure that seems harsh, we must remember that these people have entered our country under illegal circumstances and as a result, there are consequences.

No matter what is done to solve immigration in this country, I know that it will not be a completely fair solution. It is not fair to the many Americans who have entered this country legally for us to allow illegal immigrants to receive citizenship through a simpler method.

You can also be sure that no matter what kind of solution is reached, many of these illegal aliens will not be satisfied. We know that even before the previous immigration bill failed, many illegal immigrants objected to the concept of paying the fines that it entailed. I think that is terribly ironic considering the fact that we’re graciously trying to give them a legal way to enter our country. It also angers me that they have had large rallies, flying flags of their home countries, demanding that we grant them amnesty in this country. If they are so proud of their countries of origin, why don’t they just go back?

I know for a fact that if I were to enter nearly any country in the world, I’d have to go through a long series of paperwork and a great deal of trouble in order to obtain citizenship. I expect that. And I appreciate that because each country has its own culture, its own government, it’s own way of life that they cherish and wish to protect. I respect their ability and right to do that. I wouldn’t go to some foreign country and demand that since I work there I should be given citizenship. That’s not fair to the citizens of that country. That’s not fair to the people who have worked hard to enter that country and obtain citizenship legally.

I’m sure many who read this will find large gaping holes in my ideas for a solution. That’s fine. Enlighten me. What are some ways we could fix this problem? What are some ways we can allow immigrants to enter this country legally and make it as fair as possible for all parties involved? Because you and I both know that this is a very troubling situation that our nation faces and it must be remedied.

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11 Responses to Immigration Solution: Thoughts and Ideas

  1. Scott says:

    Well, I think you’re plan is great, fair, and in first reading it, I see one thing to improve. I think securing the border should be a separate bill to be passed asap. If people are going to keep debating issues regarding illegal immigrants and not passing anything, let’s get the border secured before there’s another 911.

  2. Nathan says:

    I agree with Scott. The issue of immigration is split into two problems. Those undocumented illegal immigrants in America and the potential for many more to get here. But, addressing your thoughts. I think it’s very important (because of how heated this debate has become) to remember that being in this country illegally isn’t a severe offense. But, really the only disagreement I have is with your fourth point. Because it doesn’t seem sensible that your saying only the immigrants who are here illegally should be required to learn English, as some sort of punisment, but those who go through the legal process shouldn’t be required to. So, I figure you mean that every immigrant should be required to learn English. For me, that is too close to expressing a sort of arrogance, like to say, “if you want to be in America then you should become as American as posible.” And forcing someone to learn American culture is much more so. Because there are plenty of immigrants here that only learn enough English to get by and some times that amount is none at all. If someone can live here and not speak or understand a bit of English and he or she lives by our laws, then I haven’t a problem with them. You use the word optimal and idea of best interest, but that’s not something the government really gets involved with unless it connects to safety, like seatbelts being a law but going to college being optional. Obviously college is more expensive than a language class, but it seems like it’s the same idea. There is a lot of truth to the idea that someone who doesn’t learn English or American culture probably will be apathetic to a lot more important things, like American laws, but FORCING someone to learn those things doesn’t seem like it would resolve those people’s apathy.

    But one of the largest problems with the immigration issue is the government actually enforcing whatever laws exist because so far that hasn’t happened very much. And any legislation passed that goes without being enforced wouldn’t resolve anything.

  3. Braden says:

    I think it’s only reasonable to ask immigrants to learn English. It’s common sense. If I went to France, I would know that in order to get around and function properly in their society, I would need to learn French. It’s the same with Germany, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, wherever. It’s not arrogant at all. It’s logical. I encounter immigrants all the time that don’t understand the way Americans do business, they way we interact, the expressions we use, etc. So learning our culture would greatly benefit them in understanding how we operate as a society. Immigrants could get the most out of their experience in America by learning these things, while at the same time, being a benefit to us as a country. If I were an immigrant, I wouldn’t expect countries to adapt to me. I’d expect to adapt to them in order to get ahead in their society. It has nothing to do with forcing our culture or even our language on them. It has to do with them being able to interact with the rest of the country.

    As for the border, you can split it up if you want. It doesn’t matter how we do it. The bottom line is that it needs to be done. I think we can agree on that.

    And I think you’re totally right in that if we enforced the laws we currently have, we wouldn’t have these problems to begin with. But at this point, we’ve got to make a conscious and comprehensive decision and stick with it.

  4. jens says:

    I agree with most of what you have to say. I would quibble with the English stuff, not because I think it wouldn’t be a good thing, but because I think it is unnessesary. I think Nathan covered it fairly well. At the same time we don’t have a national language for a reason. There are many areas in the country you can go where English isn’t dominant and never was. The Southwest is a prime example. I think people don’t realize that those people spoke Spanish hundreds of years before English came along and yet they are american citizens and have been for generations. Not to mention the Navajo and other reservations where you can go and not hear any English at all.

    My point isn’t that they don’t know enough English to get by outside of their area. My point is that language is fairly easy to learn and people will learn it when they need to. In all of the immigrants and refugee’s I have met and lived with from South America, Kosovo, Vietman and Somalia none have dismissed learning English.

    Some do have limited skills, such as my Hmong car mechanic. He works within his community mostly serving other Hmong and thus doesn’t need the skills as much. He’s also about 60 and teaching an old dog new tricks is tough. Should he have been forced to take classes in English? It would certainly have helped him some, but mabye not too much. I think we would save money, create fewer beaurocratic headaches, and stay truer to a conservative ideal if we decided that immigrants could learn English as they needed it. Besides, can you imiagine how awful the curriculum would be for a required English class mandated by the government? It would be awfully hard to learn english in that atmosphere.

    Immersion is the best way to learn a language, not sitting in a classroom. Isn’t that the way the Poles, Germans and Czechs did it back in the day? Why change now? If capitalism is what drove them to come here it will be capitalism that makes them work to succeed and thus capitalism that will force them to learn the language. I actually have wondered many times why conservatives see teaching english to immigrants as conservative. It sounds like big government, tax and spend, liberal hogwash to me and I consider myself pretty progressive. Let our economy do it’s job and they will learn English very quickly.

    Most illegals pay taxes in the form of witholding, so they are payign taxes. Some people, of course, work in grey market jobs with no tax paid but they are the minority. Most work at normal low wage jobs. It is the employers that look the other way by allowing them to use false SS #’s to file for witholding (the IRS checks for mismatches and fakes but can’t force companies to check ID’s). Most people on a minimum wage job would get a refund at the end of the year, so many of these folks are probably actually paying more than their share since they cannot recieve their refund.

    On the other hand apparently some are filing taxes and recieving the earned income tax credit, which is not good. It is not nearly as simple and clearcut as you make it sound and most do pay taxes equal to their share of the income they make. This article has a good overview of the complexity as well as some scary stuff about Tax ID numbers. It lists a 1999 study that as much as $39billion in W-2 wages were collected by the IRS that did not match the social security number used. So, there are alot of illegals using fake SS#s to pay taxes.
    http://www.cis.org/articles/2002/back1202.html

    Is this good, no. I think something needs to be done. But you can’t say they aren’t paying taxes and are thus freeloading on our government.

    One thing I didn’t see is any steps to force employers to do their job and not hire illegals. If we don’t do that there will still be a problem. Why? Because illegals will always work cheaper than legals in order to stay here and remain under the radar. So, we could end up granting citizenship to a bunch of illegals today only to have businesses attracting more illegals here based on lower wages in the future. We would have just forstalled the problem and driven wages down to boot. I think this should be the first priority, even before sealing the border. Any thoughts?

  5. jens says:

    Just in case you haven’t read my last post on Healthcare, yes most illegals do pay taxes.

    Here is an article by white house press man tony Snow explaining it:
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/03/how_about_a_little_common_sens.html

    “Princeton University sociologist Douglas S. Massey reports that
    62 percent of illegal immigrants pay income taxes (via withholding) and 66 percent contribute to Social Security. Forbes magazine notes that Mexican illegals aren’t clogging up the social-services system: only 5 percent receive food stamps or unemployment assistance; 10 percent send kids to public schools.” – Tony Snow

  6. Braden says:

    I still believe that English is the dominant language of this nation as a whole. I don’t think there’s any question that it would help immigrants to learn our language. If you didn’t want the government to teach English, they could outsource it to private instutions or even faith-based organizations. I think churches would jump at the chance to do that if the government gave them the slightest incentive. In fact, there are churches here in Montgomery that are involved with a program called Friendspeak that teaches immigrants English by reading the Bible. And that’s without any suggestion from the government!

    It really doesn’t matter to me how they learn English. But I do think it would be to the benefit of the immigrant and to the American citizens they come into contact with if they did so.

    I read your information but I still believe that most illegals are not paying taxes. I’d say most of them are being paid in cash. Think about that study, how can they possibly gauge how many immigrants are actually paying income taxes? If they are being paid in cash or by some other means, there is no way to track it. There’s really no way of knowing how many aren’t paying taxes, but I’d guess that it’s far more than 38%.

  7. jens says:

    Even if non-profits were to take on the burden of teaching there would still be money to track, and laws to be upheld. Do you think that enforcing and tracking a program such as this would be free? It might not be a huge beaurocracy but it would add to the load.

    I guess I am intrigued that a small government and capitalist proponent such as yourself would like to see more beaurocracy added to the government to do something that capitalism and human nature has taken care of for every group of immigrants since the US was founded. Any clarification?

    You are entitled to your opinion about aliens and taxes, but you might want to make it clear that the opinion is based on your hunch, not any solid evidence. I attempt to form my opinions based on the facts I am able to dig up rather than my gut feelings.

  8. jens says:

    Also, read through the cis.org link. One way to gauge illegal immigrant taxes paid is through the number of W-2 filings that have mismatched SS#’s and which are left unresolved. The amount in 1999 was $39 Billion. Can you explain why $39 Billion dollars of citizens wages would be left unresolved with the IRS when being in arears to the IRS can ruin your financial life and is easy to fix for those with a vlid SS#? Heck, most of those people would even get a refund for their toruble. Since not all mismatched numbers are found this is an underestimate of the actual amount paid.

    I’d like an explanation for this one if you have it.

  9. Braden says:

    It’d be much cheaper to let non-profits do the job rather than letting the government do it. How is that adding bureaucracy? How would that be expensive? Now you’re confusing me.

    Facts and statistics are not one in the same. Especially when you consider that some statistics are based on a faulty test concept like the idea that we can somehow know how many immigrants AREN’T paying taxes. You keep operating under the assumption that most illegal aliens getting W2’s and you can’t gauge that. It’s not a gut feeling that immigrants are being paid in cash. I know because I do business with them all the time. I know personal experience may be an “opinion” or a “hunch” to you, but to me it’s quite real. If you think Tony Snow’s statistics are cold hard fact, I’d like to believe my assumptions, gut feelings, or opinions would fit the same mold. If you really consider those statistics to be “solid evidence,” I’d like to see how you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are accurate.

  10. jens says:

    Yes, you are right, it would be cheaper to let non-profits do it but letting the market drive it would be FREE. Instead you want a law passed that would make it mandatory. Passing a law includes costs for enforcing it, tracking to make sure people actually take the classes, and tracking the money for tax encentives to the non-profits. That is what spells beaurocracy. Why not let capitalism do the job for free? Do you not believe that people will learn English in order to get ahead? Are immigrants coming here to get ahead, or do you think they are coming here to freeload? I would bet its easier to freeload in Mexico were living is 10 times cheaper, but that’s my anecdotal “hunch”.

    On this issue I’ve seen quite a disconnect between your rhetoric about capitalism, individual choice, and small government and the actions you would like to see enacted by the government. Most of which seem to me would increase beaurocracy, decrease choice, and take the market economy out of the picture.

    As for the stats on aliens and taxes I think you aren’t looking as hard as you usually do at the whole picture. What jobs do you see illegals doing? I see them working at name brand restaurants, McDonalds, Meat Packing plants, Major landscaping businesses, construction. Any of these jobs at a major business would be unable to pay cash on the barrelhead. It would show up in their books and their investors would not be happy. Besides that, if the IRS finds you doing that they will nail your company to the wall. True the INS would almost never catch you doing it, but the IRS would. So, these companies prefer to look the other way when the illegals present fake ID’s. This is the one way they can do it without the possibility of any penalty from the IRS. This also means illegals pay alot in witholding.

    I am sorry that I used the word fact. I agree, these are just statistics. But they are also statistics from a survey, across all businesses, across ethnic groups and with a large sample size. Unless you travel the country, dealing with illegals from various industries and ethnic groups I would tend to trust a survey with a larger net than your personal experience. You are entitled to your opinion, but do you routinely dismiss data from a broad survey like this?

    How do you think the number of illegal immigrants is estimated? By chance, no by these same methods. Do you assume that the numbers for that estimate are off by a factor of 2 or more, or do you think they might be close to accurate? Can you really say with a straight face that your personal contact with illegal aliens (limited in geography, occupation, and sample size) is a better indicator of the overall illegal population in the US and their tax paying habits?

    As for proving them “without a shadow o a doubt”, that is impossible. Have you taken a statistics course? You can only prove a survey to the margin of error of the study. Of course there is a decent margin of error, for the reason that we can’t be sure who is legal, but it’s better than a single, anecdotal, data point.

    Mabye we should look at it from a different perspective. At minimum wage you owe next to nothing in taxes because you are in the lowest tax bracket available for working people. Even those who work as day laborers average not much above minimum wage since they aren’t employed every day, so despite their status, if their income were taxed they would not owe much. So, you would expect that their sales tax and property tax (paid by landlords as part of their rent, by law) would probably be higher than what they would pay in witholding anyway. These taxes are pretty much mandatory, unless you are homeless and don’t buy anything.

    I’m not pointing this stuff out to make the point that illegal immigrants are paying their fair share, they aren’t. But they are paying an amount that shouldn’t be negated and that somewhat offsets their effects on the economy.

    Can you give me a good explaination of how property and sales tax wouldn’t be collected? Can you give me an explanation of how legit businesses that employ large numbers of illegals would avoid problems with the IRS while giving their employees cash salaries? (Or do you think that illegals don’t work at legit businesses? Tell that to Hormel Foods or Tyson)

    I admire your argumentation but you are making leaps of faith without any evidence or logical progression to back up your claims. If you have answers to these basic questions I’d be interested to hear them. Then again you still haven’t explained your previous assertion that universal healthcare would create higher addiction rates to prescription drugs so I can’t say I’m hopeful.

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