13 April 2009

Dad, I'm Pregnant -- Muddling Through The Problem of Illegal Immigration

Dealing with illegal immigration is like dealing with your unmarried pregnant teenage daughter. The best solution is to not have gotten into the situation in the first place. But it's too late for that now, and none of your options are ideal. So we must deal with reality and muddle through somehow.

Millions and millions of illegal immigrants are living in the United States. What to do?

Some say that we should do whatever it takes to round up every illegal and deport them all. Others, grounded in reality, know that this is not going to happen. Despite some protests from the fringe (like Mike Huckabee), there is little political desire to round up illegals and deport them all. What would we do, set up interment camps for millions on the outskirts of our major cities? How would you find illegals? Accosting everyone who looks Mexican several times a day is unrealistic and unconstitutional. What about illegals from Asia, Africa, and -gasp- Europe? I know of a Canadian who has overstayed her visa. How many times a days are you going to put up with being stopped and asked for papers?
First, let's take a look at current immigration law. As you might expect, it's a mess. This article is a good place to start: Immigration Law: Myths and Realities. Just look at all the different agencies that deal with immigration issues, and you won't wonder why immigration law is such a mess:
  1. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) controls the entry and exit of foreign nationals.

  2. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) governs benefits such as temporary visitor or work status as well as permanent resident/green card status and naturalization

  3. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) controls the borders and determines who may enter the U.S.

  4. U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) pursues the capture and removal of deportable foreign nationals who are already in the U.S. and whose acts constitute a violation of immigration laws.

  5. U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) oversees immigration court hearings to remove foreign nationals via the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Appeals from these hearings are made to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

  6. U.S. Department of State (DOS) governs the issuance of visas that are required for entry into the U.S. for most foreign nationals.

  7. U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) controls wages paid to foreign nationals, approves labor certification applications made by employers on behalf of foreign nationals. Appeals from these determinations are made to the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA). Approved labor certifications provide the requisite criteria for applications for permanent resident status which may only be granted by CIS. DOL regulations govern working conditions for foreign nationals working in agriculture.

  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, determines vaccinations needed for certain immigrants and identifies medical conditions that would prohibit a foreign national’s entry into the U.S. (e.g. an active case of tuberculosis). HHS also makes determinations on waiver applications for some individuals who enter the U.S. in J-1 status (as exchange visitors), e.g., physicians.
Our immigration laws are not working. They simultaneously tear families apart, allow too many illegal immigrants in, keep qualified and motivated immigrants out, damage lawful businesses, allow the exploitation of workers, allow crime to flourish, and anger current and hopeful citizens alike. They are irrational and need reform.

Second, let's take a look at what the Modern Whig Party has to say on this issue.

If somebody is in this country illegally, then he or she should be deported if caught. However, it is not realistic in terms of manpower and resources to attempt to hunt illegal immigrants down. We propose the following: Offer illegal immigrants the opportunity for citizenship if they join the military and serve out their initial contractual term honorably. This system already is in use for green card holders and has proven to be an absolute success. In fact, much of this proposal is based off of the highly applauded current framework. The illegal immigrants will not be entitled to jobs that require security clearances, but will be eligible for the GI Bill, Tricare and all other benefits afforded to US service members who serve honorably. This program also will include a background check and English-language classes if necessary. In this manner, any illegal immigrant ranging in age from 18 to 42 will receive job skills and educational benefits while they earn their citizenship in defense of our country. Of course this military path to citizenship would not apply to elderly or disabled illegal immigrants, but it does offer an opportunity to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants.

In respect to the orderly deportation of other illegal immigrants, we propose the following: A creation of ad-hoc immigration courts. Essentially, highly regarded immigration lawyers in varying parts of the country will be nominated and selected to serve as immigration judges. When a suspected illegal immigrant is caught, an ad-hoc court can quickly be convened in order to ensure fair proceedings. In this manner, we can significantly impact the current problem of immigration court backlog while at the same time empower local communities such as Prince William County in Virginia that wish to enforce immigration laws.

That is good, as far as it goes, but doesn't fully cover what is to be done with the millions already here. What should be the criteria for the immigration courts?

Third, one of the original purposes of this blog was to explore what position a Whig today must take on the issues. Whigs must be open to those who support our American values and who have a strong work ethic. Immigrants keep American from stagnating, and have a lot to offer. But Whigs also support order and law. The failure to enforce the law makes a mockery of the ideal of being a nation of law.

So here are one Whig's rough ideas on dealing with the issue of immigration. First, we must reject the idea of a permanent non-citizen underclass. Observing Europe and their problems with unassimilated disaffected minorities should put paid to the idea of never allowing some residents to become part of their adopted country.

Second, we must gain control over the border. The current zone of lawlessness not only damages the U.S., but is also generating instability in Mexico, and is the source of much human suffering and tragedy. Additionally, it is a risk to our national security. The border must be made secure. At the same time, measures can be put into place so that local traders and merchants will be allowed to operate, and the local economies along the border will not be made to suffer.

Third, after the border is made secure, we must accept that it is in our long-term interest to open a path to citizenship to some of those who are already here. To those who can establish their identity, pass a background check, and pay back taxes, we should welcome. To those who are here for purposes of crime, we must deport. Better coordination between the federal agencies and local law enforcement would be a good, and straightforward first step to take. Currently, there is little effort to deport those identified as being here illegally once they are arrested for a crime.

Fourth, we must examine the current immigration quotas and standards to provide for a more flexible approach, allowing more immigration when the economy is booming, and restricting immigration when unemployment is increasing. In other words, we must gain control over immigration, and rationally decide how many to let in and from where.

The Modern Whig Party, by continuing its realistic approach to the immigration issue, can also gain an advantage over the two main parties. Both old parties are split on this issue. The Republicans are divided between big-business interests that want to use immigrants to hold down wages, and a nativist fringe that wants to "round 'em all up." The Democrats are divided between union members who want immigration reduced, and the far left, who would let in the entire world, put them on welfare and give them the vote. These divisions should be exposed and exploited. The Modern Whig Party would be the party of practical solutions.


Jerry MD said...


Mike B said...

I'm glad I found your site because immigration is a big concern for me. It's like abortion, gun rights, and gay marriage are to others and from what I have been able to discern the Whigs are in the early stages of development and your suggestions are sound and I suggest they adapt them as their national platform.

I would add thought that in order to stop the flow we must hold Mexico accountable. Until Mexico changes it's inhumane practices we will not be able to stop the flow.

Anonymous said...

"Better coordination between the federal agencies and local law enforcement would be a good, and straightforward first step to take. Currently, there is little effort to deport those identified as being here illegally once they are arrested for a crime."

Sounds like 1070 to me... and I endorse it.