General Problem Discussion
It is time to wade in on the issues that are now in our face on a daily basis. Border States are being overwhelmed by the influx of People, Drugs, Guns, and criminal activities of all kinds. The economic, political and social conditions that enable and encourage this behavior are very visible and very ignored. The issue of employment for citizens of this country, the issues of benefits for those who are not citizens, the issues of taxes, the issues of crime, human trafficking, drugs, and the breakdown of social structures are all visible and are visibly not being addressed with any effectiveness.
The Federal Government's interim solution is a military one. Arizona's solution is both a form of martial law and to pretend the Constitution is not being ignored or even torn to shreds. Congress is not even close to a sensible and fair immigration reform bill. Everyone is polarized on these issues and there is a great deal of noise and emotion with very little clear thinking. This of course will become a tool of the 2010 elections. Will a solution arise before then? I do not have a lot of confidence in that happening based on prior behavior.. I could be wrong.
Some Initial Thoughts on the subject
The battle of opinion on employment, unemployment benefits, illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, undocumented workers, criminal activities, deportation, amnesty, citizens rights, voting, drivers licences, welfare, infrastructure costs, prison jail population (costs to the tax payer), release of criminals (illegal aliens) back into society and a few others goes on and on across the country within families, towns, cities and states.
I would not be surprised if a divorce or two did not occur because of such polarization.
Attempting to discuss any portion of this greater problem facing us brings with it uninformed and not well thought out opinions, emotions filled with judgements and labels that do not contribute to a solution, and the fears and angers of people throughout the country who rely on our leaders to manage such mayhem and confusion without taking away the constitution that is supposed to protect us all.
But first let me get my terminology established, meaning what do I mean when I use certain terms.
Immigrant: A person who has applied for and received a permit for temporarily working in or visiting the United States.
Illegal immigrant: a person who has overstayed the permit period without applying for an extension (without permission).
Undocumented Worker: A person who has come into this country to work and has done so without following the immigration rules.
Illegal alien: Any person who resides in the United States who does not have an authorized visa, work permit or legal permission to be here.
Amnesty: Allowing illegal aliens who do not have criminal records and who work in this country a path to legalized presence and even a path to citizenship (following our existing policies on becoming a citizen).
Deportation: Removing illegal aliens from US soil and sending them back to their home of origin.
Some Logistical Considerations
Finding 10, 11, 12 million illegal aliens and deporting them is an enormous and expensive effort. As of 2004 approximately 17% of our prison population consisted of illegal aliens.
The military solution to our southern border is very expensive and has so far has not stemmed the influx of people across it.
The removal of all undocumented workers would seriously impact all of the businesses and people that employ them.
Any solution would have to consider the expense that finding, documenting, and deciding the fate of 10,11,12 million people would create.
A military solution at our borders would still be necessary until everything was in place and working effectively.
All businesses that employed immigrant and illegal alien labor would have to be monitored, potentially fined, or shut down if they did not comply with the new employment policies.
The problems in other countries that are the driving force behind this illegal alien mass migration would still exist. Terrorist activity and the threat they create would not go away.
We would need a way to handle existing criminals in our jails and a deportation policy when they served their sentences.
The criminals on both sides of the border would not change their intent, just their methods.
There are more but we are getting into the basic issues that are separate from the plain logistics of just how, even a good plan, is implemented.
Some Basic Tools and Policies that should be considered
Right now, across the country, people who are not citizens of this country are driving, voting and receiving social and medical benefits that even some citizens do not have. There is a real burden on our citizens to pay for all of the services that illegal aliens receive.
The rights of our citizens that are derived from the constitution are beginning to erode under the pressure of the illegal alien population and the high resistance against it.
Those illegal aliens who commit crimes fill our jails - 2004 approximately 17% are illegal alien. Approximately 10 Billion per year is the net cost.
Administration and enforcement of prior laws and policies would need to be revisited and either abolished or superseded.
Identification of a citizen vs non citizen would be a requirement to track and monitor the valid immigrant population and limit the ability to forge documents, get drivers licenses and voter registration.
The "born in the US you are automatically a citizen clause" would require careful thought if change was called for.
Tools and technology would be required to implement any serious change to the immigration policies and practices of the US. Identification, data bases, monitoring, enforcement.
Lets talk about real immigration reform
The Basic Concerns
Big Brother: People are very concerned about the Government being able to track them and have available personal information at any time. Mostly this is fear of power and its misuse. So the debates over a National Id card center around this concern. To be more direct no one wants to have to show their "papers" to the police or any other entity unless they want to. Some say the technology is not available to protect against forgeries, identity theft, and safe implementation of a National Id Card.
The other issues associated with such a card are duplication. Would we still need a birth certificate, a passport, a social security card, a drivers license, a military id. And if we did not what would happen to us if our card was stolen or lost. How could we prove who we were, how easy or difficult would it be to rapidly correct such a situation. What technology needs to be in place before such a card is issued.
And what function or functions does the card perform (what can it be used for?)
Employers: Everyone knows that this entire dilemma exists for two fundamental reasons. The opportunity in the US is far greater that the opportunity in other countries. Employers in the US hired foreign labor to keep their costs down and their profits up. So they did not care to screen the legitimacy of those they hired. This created the demand, economic failures outside our borders created the supply.
Farm workers, the entire residential construction labor force, the entire service industry (Home and Business services (cleaning, landscaping, painting, restaurants). These and a few others have over the years replaced the resident work force with the foreign work force. Maybe not completely but enough to move the work from both a skill point of view and an income point of view to those who would work for less.
Any immigration reform would have to target the employers. They would have to be able to easily identify those who were legal to work and those who were not. It would also be necessary to have a legal means (stiff fines, removal of permits) to address employer violations of the immigration reform program.
Each employer would also have to be able to easily update the labor data base with the identity of the employee and their status (citizen, registered non-citizen).
As you can readily imagine a National data base is called for, along with easy access (Credit Card usage is an example).
The Borders: Big walls, long fences, lots of soldiers, border police, Dea agents, Customs Officials, Homeland Security, Local (state and city police) have yet to stem the tide. Billions directed at a moving target. And not effective without the removal of the supply and demand side of the equation (employers, employees).
Official access points are crowded and long stretches of real estate are difficult to patrol night and day.
The border is not just for people desperate for work but for drugs, arms and human trafficking. Sometimes all three objectives are combined into one.
The drug problem will not go away because of the same supply and demand problem. They have the supply, we have the demand.
All of this makes the military option necessary until the supply and demand problem is resolved.
The Existing Population of Illegal Aliens: How do you find 10+ million people who are trying to be invisible or at least live under the radar. What do you do with them if you find them. Many illegal aliens are living with legals. Many have families on both sides of the border. Many have children that were born in the US.
The choices are not simple. They are imbedded in our economy, our schools, our workplace, our cities and towns. The disruption to our society at all levels would be huge if we gathered everyone up and deported them. The Hispanic political voice is becoming more powerful. The devastation to the children (the innocent in this case) would be traumatic when family after family was broken up during the deportation phase.
Immigration Reform - A Beginning
There can be order in chaos. But what is the order of the activities that begin and then complete the process of Immigration Reform.
A) Establish the technological base that will permit all else to follow: Card creation, Data Base, Networking, Administration, Functionality
B) Create a pilot program - 1,000 people
* Identify, educate, test the technology (Card, Data Base, Communication, Networking, Administration, Functionality)
* Employer - Employee interaction
* Lost or stolen Cards and their replacement
* Experiment with the functionality of the card.
* Create Identity Theft scenarios
* Create Criminal Usage scenarios
* Integrate the card with existing processes ( Voter Registration, Driver's License, Passport, Birth Certificate, Social Security, Visa, Green Card)
* Close the pilot program - present results to Congress
C) Create a safe period (1 year) during which all must register with no penalty.
D) Issue Cards and adapted processing devices (example cc). Integrate with Border Security and Customs processses.
E) Implement failure to register deportation and criminal processing phase.
Federal, State, and Local Goverment authority, responsibility and accountability