by Bob Quasius
Cafe Con Leche Republicans has developed an immigration overhaul plan which is designed to overhaul immigration in a fair way that addresses root causes, enhances our economy, keeps families together, accountability for those who broke our laws, and enhances our border security. What do you think?
- We need to address immigration problems at the root causes, which mainly is attempting to use government to control labor markets with arbitrary quotas, which have often proved disconnected from the needs of our economy. Illegal immigration is more an economic issue than an enforcement issue.
- We can’t enforce our way to a working immigration system without severely damaging our economy in the process, meanwhile ripping apart millions of mixed-status families.
- Amnesty alone is a stop gap that doesn’t address root causes and is corrosive to the ‘rule of law.’ Congress failed to follow-up the 1986 reforms with guest worker program reforms, and did not adequately address border security until much later. When border security was beefed up without fixing guest worker programs, the result was that seasonal undocumented workers began staying here all the time, and brought their families instead of returning after harvest, etc., actually increasing undocumented immigrant population. Half-fixes rarely work and have unintended consequences.
- Family unity is very important, and so is compassion. Ripping families apart should be avoided whenever possible, except where it is contrary to public safety because a family member is a danger to society, such as a violent criminal.
- Also important is fairness to legal immigrants, especially those who have waited in line for years. The solution must strike a balance between accountability for breaking our laws and fairness. Immediately granting permanent resident status to those who came illegally, while others wait for years is unfair.
- Bureaucracy must be radically streamlined. Government is not well suited to running our economy. Present system is way too complex, and government has proven over and over it is unable to manage the present system.
- Reforming immigration and guest worker programs enhances border security by diverting workers from illegal channels (typically via criminal syndicates) to legal channels, allowing the border patrol to focus on criminals and potential terrorists.
- Though net illegal immigration has dropped to zero recently, more border security is still needed on both borders to address criminals and national security issues.
- Transform immigration and guest worker quotas into a market based system, where free market labor needs drive levels of immigration, not government edict and arbitrary quotas heavily influenced by politics. History has shown that whenever immigration quotas or even outright bans to certain nations are at odds with the free markets, illegal immigration has been the result. Government’s compelling interest is public safety, screening out terrorists and criminals.
- Immigrant visas for immediate family of U.S. Citizens should remain, but do away with lesser preferences. There’s no compelling reason why brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens should receive preference over others. Ditto for adult children of LPRs. This triggers chain migration and clogs the sytem. Need more opportunity for non-family immigrants and/or guest workers to come here legally.
- Open the system for adequate numbers of guest workers, who must have an employer sponsor but with greatly streamlined processing and near zero bureaucracy, preferably outsourced. Guest workers must remain employed, and must leave after a reasonable interval if they become unemployed. No welfare or other social programs for guest workers. Also, guest workers may freely leave one employer for another, which eliminates the leverage some employers have used to abuse guest workers and pay them less, undercutting citizens and LPRs. Free markets should determine guest worker numbers and wages, not government.
- Guest worker visas may be renewed every year for five years, then guest workers must leave or apply for LPR status. LPR status should generally be granted provided the guest worker has demonstrated a track record of steady employment, taxes paid, no criminal record, etc.
- As always, any non-citizen who commits a felony is subject to deportation. However, add a statute of limitation for minor felonies, so those convicted decades ago may remain at the discretion of an immigration judge.
- Immediate LPR status for those receiving advanced degrees in high demand fields such as sciences, engineering, computer programming, etc. It makes no sense to educate the ‘cream of the crop’ from other nations, then send them home to help foreign competitors out-compete U.S. industry.
- To ensure U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents receive preference, impose a modest surtax on wages, to be paid by employers. If there truly is an unfulfilled need, employers will pay more for guest workers. DON’T rely on bureaucracy to manage guest workers with a heavy hand. That’s a big part of the problem now (i.e. H2A is good example).
- Those who came here illegally as adults may remain as guest workers provided they pay a fine, pass background checks, and make arrangements to pay any back taxes owed. They may adjust their status, but NOT until all those presently waiting outside the U.S. have immigrated to the U.S.
- Those who came here as minors need only pass a background check, pay back taxes owed, and upon completion of two years of college or military service may immediately adjust their status to permanent resident. Otherwise, those who came as minors must wait until all those presently waiting outside the U.S. have immigrated. No fines for anyone who immigrated illegally as a minor.