As everyone readily admits, the recent influx of illegal immigrants from Central America at our southern border is a “humanitarian crisis.” Many of these are children and teenagers. Let’s leave aside the blame game for a bit and deal with these kids. And there is a simple solution.
Since this is a “humanitarian crisis” and since the United Nations is somewhat good at dealing with such crises, the US should enlist their assistance in repatriation of these children to families in their home country. Considering that we foot a large part of the bill for the UN, its time we got something back for those bucks.
However, there will continue to be a string of crises if the United States does not address immigration reform. Step 1 is to secure the southern border. We do not need a fence along the border’s entire length- just enough to create choke points. At these choke points, manpower can be deployed. Part of that manpower should be deployment of the National Guard to assist Border Patrol and ICE agents. Additionally, 24-hour surveillance of the border by manned and drone aircraft should be used. If caught, they are immediately sent back to Mexico. If they traversed through Mexico undocumented, they become Mexico’s problem. If they are Mexican, they are Mexico’s problem. Perhaps then, Mexico might get serious about securing their northern border. If they refuse, then we use our banking laws to cease the flow of American dollars back to Mexico from Mexican-Americans.
Once certain benchmarks are met, we then address the longer term problem of those already here illegally. Most estimates put the number at around 14 million. But, half of them are immigrants who have over-stayed their visas. These 7 million must be found and dealt with on an individual basis. If they want to renew the visit, then certain criteria would have to be met (let them debate that criteria). If they do not come in and/or renew the visit, then leave.
Of the remaining 7-8 million who enetered the country without documentation, about 2.6 million have been here more than 15 years. Assuming they are gainfully employed, have no criminal record and speak English, just fast-track them to full citizenship on a probationary period (perhaps 3 years). These are the ones most likely assimilated, whose kids play with your kids, who patronize your businesses and sit next to you in church.
For those here 5-15 years (about 3.75 million), provided they meet the criteria above, they can apply for and likely receive a 3-year worker visa, but it expires after 3 years and they must return to their home country. In this way, immigration would be cyclical. They can re-apply for another three years immediately and, based upon demand, could get lucky. If they are here less than five years- an estimated 1.1 million- they get deported, but could apply for a 3-year visa. This whittles down the amount of people to be deported, meets employment demands in this country, brings the illegal population out of the shadows and is also respectful of and shows compassion to those who have assimilated into American society through demonstrated good citizenship over 15 years.
State and local law enforcement help should be appreciated, not shunned by the federal government. Congress can work out the details to reform existing visas for high-skilled workers so that we attract the best and brightest from other countries. The 3-year visa would be for low-skilled workers.
We also need to enforce workplace violations of hiring undocumented immigrants. E-Verify is a good place to start. However, if an employer knowingly hires an illegal immigrant, fines should be more serious than the present ones with a third violation being loss of their business license. By placing an additional deterrent burden on employers, we dry up the reason for coming here- jobs- unless they are documented.
Simply, we need a president with the intestinal fortitude and the brains to enforce the current immigration laws and show some leadership when it comes to “comprehensive” reform. We don’t need a baby in the White House who expects to get everything he wants because he fancies himself the Chosen One. If the GOP takes the lead after the border is secured, then at least some of the 2.6 million people most likely to benefit the most will remember who fought for them. But, first this administration has to get some control over the southern border.