First we recognize that the problems we are really concerned with are economic and political. (I know that there are terrorist issues here but I am dismissing that as something we will have regardless of how we solve the immigration situation.)
a) There are millions of immigrants in the country today working and using social services. They need to be set on a path towards assimilation but we cannot allow them to become “instant” citizens because they will presumably vote for democrats in disproportionate numbers. Solution: give them a serious eighth grade graduation test (about what passes for a High School GED) and if/when they pass give them a green card that leads to citizenship after a waiting period. At the end of the waiting period they still must pass a citizenship test, but this should be greatly facilitated by the work taken to pass the green card test. During the waiting period they do not get the vote. If they break this law, they get deported and have no chance to use the test system again. I would suggest that the waiting period be about 6 years to reach past all current politicians’ terms. If you fail the test three times you must go back to the mother country and study to take the test at the entry point. This solves the economic issue because these people have a reason to work and study and assimilate and if there are jobs for them, then they will earn money and pay taxes. This solves the political issue because they must wait and learn how our parties work and support them before they can vote. My guess is that they will learn that democrats do not provide womb to tomb solutions for their lives, in fact, in the struggle to find work and stay employed they will learn that much of what they get is due to their own effort. It also solves the moral issue because staying or leaving becomes a matter of passing a test that the vast majority of the people in this country take and pass to graduate from High School. Did I mention that the test is only available in English?
b) There are millions of would be immigrants waiting to enter the country legally and the waiting periods are impossible. Thus, they find it easier to apply for a vacation visa or find a coyote and get into the country any way that they can. Once here they frequently have a child to ensure their US anchor. This is not a system that reasonable people should accept. However, letting more people in is opposed by the unions and persons concerned that our welfare services (and schools and hospitals) would be overrun. Solution: First consider that the welfare services and schools and hospitals are bankrupt now and falling farther into debt and the public recognizes that this risks the future for all of us, so letting more people in will not end up hurting these institutions -- they will fail anyway. We must find other ways to survive this debt crisis or we must end the public entitlement systems and let people become responsible for their own welfare (unemployment), school (public), and medical care (Medicare). People need to realize that these entitlement schemes will fail us anyway, immigration solutions such as this will hasten the day when these systems collapse, making it more imperative to find fixes for them that will really work. (Of course every new entitlement we pass also hastens the day when the system comes crashing down. Interestingly, more people coming into this country may actually help with the social security crisis. So for these people waiting at the border to enter legally, I say test them too – same test. Pass it and you get a green card with the same restrictions on voting and no need to associate with criminals to enter the country, and no problem leaving the country if you cannot find work. This is good, because eventually finding work that matches the eighth grade skill set will become a problem. When the demand for labor and the supply match, the unlucky ones will have to go back to their home country and keep applying for a job. But the open door policy will stay open and once a prospective immigrant passes the test and has his/her green card, they are free to enter the country to work and return to their home country as they see fit. When they are here working they will pay taxes and use services as any green card person is entitled to.
c) What will happen if we do this? (1) People will immediately take their education more seriously both here and across the border. Our citizens will see that they have more competition and will respond properly by keeping their education current. (2) Border control will become simple; the only people who will run the border will be drug smugglers and terrorists. The border patrol will not be so overwhelmed and will be able to use stronger methods of force because these people will not be the poor downtrodden field hand--that person will be back in the home country studying like he/she never did before. We will tell anyone who is caught trying to enter the country without passing the test that they will be deported and lose their privilege to take the test. There is no limit to the number of times a person can take the test except that they must wait two months between testing to give others a chance. (3) Countries like Mexico will immediately move to create more opportunities in their country because they will see that the US is going to freely take every individual who can show a High School Diploma level of education. I fully expect Calderon to oppose this plan as he will see that his country will be left with people who can’t pass the test to get here. (4) All the high tech individuals who have been denied green cards will have them and they will enter this country and find work until supply meets demand. Our high tech companies can expand when the timing is right because there will be workers ready to move in immediately and (5) All of this will put the immigration issue squarely in the hands of a merit based solution which should please conservatives and libertarians.
d) What do you think?