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Chapter 24: Real immigration solutions, not more self-serving politics

June 16, 2012

What’s wrong with Obama’s latest immigration stunt:

  • More self-serving politics.  The president’s new immigration policy is clearly politically-motivated, as are the Republican attacks against it.   Just more self-serving politics on both sides.
  • Too narrow.  An Executive Order is too narrow in its approach because it addresses only one small part of a much larger and multi-faceted problem.
  • Another power grab.  The president’s unilateral action  sidesteps the real national debate and eventual joint action by Congress and the Administration that are needed.
  • False hopes. The new executive order — essentially “deferring” action against young illegal immigrants who were brought here as children and have stayed out of trouble — probably won’t make much difference anyway.
  • Too risky.  Many of those who are the targeted beneficiaries will fear signing up because this Administration or a new one could easily reverse the policies.   Who wants to be officially on “the list” if the policy changes?
  • Won’t change anybody’s views. The new policy is unlikely to win additional votes for the President because the people who like the policy would have voted for him anyway.  Similarly, most immigration hard-liners would have voted against him anyway.

How to fix America’s misguided immigration policies:

(from Chapter 24 of “Fixing America’s Broken Politics: Common Sense Solutions for the issues that divide us”, plus one new proposal)

  • Tighter border security. For national security, terrorist prevention, and economic reasons, the federal government must do a better job securing our borders. We can do this with better use of technology as well as by bringing more troops home from our unnecessary outposts around the world. (See more about this in the “National Security” chapter.)
  • Remove incentives for illegal immigration. Because of misguided government policies and lax enforcement, there are far too many incentives for people to enter the country illegally or to overstay their visas. Federal and state governments must do a better job of eliminating these incentives. It makes no sense that illegal immigrations are eligible for government benefits or that anybody born in the United States should be eligible for citizenship even if the parents are in the country illegally. Electronic verification of legal status as a condition of employment is a worthwhile system.
  • We can be choosy. If we can retain the things that made America great, we will always have more people wanting in than the country can absorb. So we can—and should—be choosy about who gets in. Our immigration laws should therefore be based on what’s good for America instead of on “political correctness”, family connections or lotteries. The immigrants we accept for work permits should be those who have skills our nation needs, as proven by a legitimate job offer. To be considered for citizenship, an immigrant should first demonstrate the ability to be economically self-sufficient, as well as mastery of the English language and an understanding of American history and American values.  (Also see this update:  https://joesmyth.org/2012/12/01/merit-based-immigration-for-americas-future/.
  • Work permits, not citizenship, for those already here. Long-time illegal immigrants who have otherwise been law-abiding and are gainfully employed and self-sufficient should be granted work permits but not citizenship. Work permits would be an acknowledgment that the federal government—with its misguided policies and “nod and wink” lack of enforcement—induced many immigrants to enter the country illegally and/or to overstay their visas.
  • Citizenship for meaningful public service.   The so-called “Dream Act” proposals would grant citizenship to illegal immigrations for those who attend colleges or complete their college education.  College graduation is too low a bar, especially since so many colleges are money-grubbing diploma mills that fail to provide a meaningful education.  (Also see the Education chapter).  For those who otherwise qualify, however, military service or similarly meaningful public service should provide a path to eventual citizenship.  Also see this update: https://joesmyth.org/2012/11/29/immigration-a-reasonable-compromise/
9 Comments
  1. It isn’t right that a child born to an illegal is a citizen. If your parent is an illegal, then you are born an illegal. We can not go to Mexico illegally and demand that we become a citeizn. I feel that the United States is just establishing a subculture that they can underpay. If they paid a fair wage then there would no be a question whether African-Americans would want those jobs. What happens when the Mexicans become citizens and no longer want to work for the lower wages? Will this large group unionize and then demand higher wages?If you look at the trades, they are opening their doors to Mexicans and still give African-Americans a hard time.It irritates me when I hear press 1 for English and press 2 for Spanish. They, like all other nationalities, should have to learn to speak English. This is America, not Mexico. I am happy that you had this discussion.

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    • I appreciate your comments, Ahmad, and especially agree that those who wish to become American citizens should be willing to pay their way and learn English. One of the reasons America has thrived is that we have shared a common language. Legal immigration has served the country well, largely because immigrants have been willing (even anxious) to work hard and learn English.

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  2. Come now, take a deep breath. Opposing illegal immigration does not automatically equate with hatred of illegal immigrants. One can certainly take the position that our immigration laws should be strictly enforced, while recognizing that most (not all!) of these immigrants are personally decent people trying to help their families out.But they should not break our laws to do so. Simple as that. Unless you know the hearts and attitudes of all the anti-immigration (really anti-ILLEGAL immigration) folks, you owe them the courtesy of not assuming bad intentions.

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    • I agree entirely that many of those who oppose illegal immigration aren’t doing so due to hatred. My point is that, for many years, our government has encouraged illegal immigration by not enforcing existing laws. Now we are suddenly changing the rules. Those who were inticed here by the government’s inaction, have stayed out of trouble and been gainfully employed may deserve our compassion. (Not citizenship, but work permits.)

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Why can’t Big Media state the truth about illegal immigration? « Fixing America's Broken Politics
  2. Action Plan to Save America « Fixing America's Broken Politics
  3. Book chapters, with live links « Fixing America's Broken Politics
  4. Merit-based immigration for America’s future « Fixing America's Broken Politics
  5. Immigration: A reasonable compromise « Fixing America's Broken Politics

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