Skip to comments.Immigration fixes real and imagined: Nice carrot, Mr President, where's the stick?
Posted on 01/17/2004 1:06:24 PM PST by WOSG
Immigration fixes real and imagined: Nice carrot, Mr President, where's the stick?
The Bush and Cornyn proposal to create a guest worker program does address one way to "solve" illegal immigration: Let them stay.
The Bush guest worker proposal however doesnt address causes of illegal immigration and our failure at many levels to stop it. Nor does it ask or propose what level of immigration is in our best interests. We need a comprehensive policy that adresses those questions if we are even to know whether guest worker visas are an appropriate part of the best broader immigration policy.
Yet our immigration policy is so broken any solution that is not comprehensive is doomed to fail. The Bush/Cornyn guest worker program, The McCain-Kolbe version, full amnesty - all of them are doomed from the start by our failure to comprehensively grapple with illegal immigration directly. They are various forms of surrender to the problem rather than solutions to it. The critical factor needed to really fix illegal immigration in this country is to change the incentives to the aliens themselves to decide to obey the law, by changing both law enforcement, the economic results of law enforcement, and the legal immigration system.
OUR FAILURE TO DO OBVIOUS RIGHT THINGS
In the mid 1990s the Jordan Commission on Immigration Reform took a look at immigration law overall and concluded: "The credibility of immigration policy can be measured by a simple yardstick: people who should get in do get in; people who should not get in are kept out; and people who are judged deportable are required to leave."- Jordan Commission on Immigration Reform. Currently, with the estimated 10 million illegal aliens in our midst, we are failing that test miserably.
And no wonder.In March 1995 Barbara Jordan said to Congress: "We believe legal immigration is in the national interest, but see illegal immigration as a threat both to our long tradition of immigration and to our commitment to the rule of law." Yet many of the suggestions of the Jordan commission were left undone: "The Commission believes the most promising option is a computerized system for determining if a social security number is valid and has been issued to someone authorized to work in the United States." Incredibly, while such a system works and is implemented on a voluntary basis, we have yet to require employers to use such a system, and hold them accountable for failing to properly check validity of fraudulent documents. Rampant unenforced document fraud has turned the employer sanctions of the 1986 immigration act into a hollow threat.
Our failure to fix the huge hole in enforcement indicates our real problem: Our failure of will to enforce a sensible policy.
IMMIGRATION PROS AND CONS
Immigration both legal and illegal, is at unprecedented levels in the US. The immigrant population nearly doubled from 19.8 million in 1990 to 31.1 million a decade later, more than half of all foreign-born residents living in 3 states: California, Texas, and New York. This number will expand to 45 million by 2010 if trends continue. These numbers suggest that in fact large-scale legal immigration is enabling more illegal immigration, and the ways in which illegal aliens have converted themselves into legal immigrants through amnesties and other programs has created a blurring of the line.
It is an illusion that illegal aliens in the US benefit American citizens overall. Immigrants, legal and illegal, do many jobs at wages that helps the rest of us get cheaper restaurant meals, home improvements, agricultural products, and other goods and services. Immigrants contribute to the economy in a number of different ways. But it is a myth that the jobs they take are not done by American citizens; in all areas of the economy, immigrants work with Americans, and those jobs would be filled (perhaps at higher wages) or mechanized if the immigrants went home. While on balance, the bulk of legal immigration is economically helpful, it is clear that low-wage immigration creates the most strain and the least new economic benefit. The Commission on Immigration Reform noted that immigration was a net cost to taxpayers in high-immigration states: "These high fiscal impacts are due to the sizeable numbers of lesser-skilled immigrants who tax payments, even over a lifetime, are insufficient to cover their use of services." - CIR Report, http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir/becoming/framework.pdf
Illegal aliens are a source of strain on the welfare system, the criminal justice system, and the education system. And while the costs are amplified, tax collection from illegal aliens is miniscule: "The Los Angeles Times reports that 950,000 illegals live in the five counties comprising the greater Los Angeles area. Their economic activity is mostly underground, which means the employers pay low cash wages, no overtime, no benefits and no taxes. ... John Chiang of the State Board of Equalization, California's tax oversight agency, estimates that the state loses $7 billion a year in unpaid taxes because of the underground sector." And while the tax collections are miniscule, the payments to immigrant groups overall is large: "The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 30.6 percent of Hispanics receive means-tested government benefits compared to 9 percent of whites." http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=4170&catcode=11 Education also takes a hit due to illegal immigration. The same source notes: "Even though California spends $2.2 billion to educate children who are illegally in this country, nearly half of Hispanic adults have not graduated from high school." The total cost nationwide to teach children of illegal aliens is $7.4 billion nationwide. The cost extends into the area of crime and law enforcement. "Almost 25 percent of all inmates in California prisons are from Mexico." Heather MacDonald reports that in "Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens." In the latest Medicare bill, the Federal Government is picking up the tab for illegal alien health care: U.S. hospitals in border states provide at least $200 million a year in uncompensated emergency care to illegal aliens.
"Mr Borjas, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, and Stephen Trejo, another economist at that university's Santa Barbara campus, completed a research paper in 1990 looking at immigrant population in the welfare system. Its findings dispel the myth widely propagated that only economic benefits arise from rising immigration. The two confirm the "widespread perception that unskilled immigrants are particularly prone to enter the welfare system, and that entry of large numbers of immigrants in the past decades has increased taxpayer expenditures on income transfer programs"-that is, welfare and other government programs.... The two also found that immigrant households receive a higher level of welfare payments than do native households." http://www.libreopinion.com/members/standarteslc/race04.html
Immigrants come to benefit themselves and not necessarily our country's benefit. Those that immigrate illegally harm our country, but ignore the laws because it benefits them. The market for cheap labor is one that some employers welcome, as cheap, unregulated, compliant labor is easier to manage. So low-wage employers have an interest in preferring a system of immigration looseness over tightness, and non-enforcement of laws are even better to shed even worker protections. Many illegal alien employees are escaping more extreme poverty and so accept their situation. While the benefits are privatized - cheap compliant labor for employers, and job opportunities and Government aid for the immigrants - the costs of illegal immigration are socialized: healthcare, crime, public services costs, the various costs of displacing American workers.
The bottom-line is clear: Illegal immigration is hurting America.
GRAPPLING WITH THE PROBLEM
So if we recognize a problem in illegal immigration, is the answer to simply allow more legal immigration as a way to 'solve' illegal immigration? As a solution, it is a mirage.
It assumes the problem is with the law, and not the law-breakers. This 'de facto' open borders policy is now creeping into the language with the term "undocumented worker". It is a misnomer on two levels. First, it is not documentation that is missing, since the illegal aliens are here not due to misplaced paperwork but because they are violating the immigration law. Secondly, many illegal aliens do indeed have documentation. The problem is that documentation is fraudulent and phony. Documentation is not the issue, being truthful about documentation is.
There is little in the statistics to suggest that legalizing illegal aliens will improve the burden on public services, education, or the criminal justice system. On the contrary, by giving more rights to aliens, it will likely add to all those costs, with little compensatory improvement in our economy.
So the contrary view is to hold the line on the law, and consider the lawbreakers and how to change their behavior. The aliens who ignore immigration laws do so because we in the US let them in and let them stay. We let them in with lax border controls and lack of visa enforcement; due to lack of verifiable documentation and lax enforcement of employment law, we let rampant document fraud subvert laws against the hiring of illegal aliens and the granting of government benefits to them; third, when we do find aliens violating the laws, we dont send them home in an efficient deportation process, but let them go free to appeal removal orders ad infinitum.
This policy is created by a combination of a lack of political will, the pressure of ethnic politics (ie pandering to minority groups that contain large illegal aliens amongst them), and the deliberate subversion of tighter immigration law by legal groups and interest groups. The solution calls out - enforce the law!
Yet the devil is in the details. There are aspects to it that are obvious: Dont let illegal aliens in the country (border security); if they are in the country find them (internal immigration law enforcement), and deport them (deportation processes). All of these processes are broken currently.
But beyond that is the question of who should indeed be here; we need to ensure that we have the law we really want on immigration. The immigrants that we want can come, others who wont likely contribute to our society should stay home (or get deported if they come here and do something criminal).
The only way to ensure that the level of immigration and the kinds of immigrants that come here would be a benefit to the overall society, would be to ensure a minimization of the socialization of the costs associated with that immigration.
This means, for example, reducing or eliminating welfare benefits to immigrants and the assurance that immigrants do not pose a criminal threat or other burden on the society. So we have provisions to deport aliens who commit crimes. Alas, those provisions have been shot full of holes by immigration lawyers and groups like the ACLU, encouraging criminal aliens to abuse amnesty and waivers to stay in this country. We passed in the 1996 welfare reform bill provisions that ended many forms of subsidies to immigrants. But over time, those too were backfilled. The net result is that we continue to face problems with immigration due to our failure to make Federal policy match the best interests of the American citizen.
THE BUSH PROPOSAL
Bush's proposal claims to be in line with the principle of bringing in those workers who contribute, by having an employer-sponsored temporary visa. This is seen as one way of 'draining the swamp' of illegal immigration without the implausible and disruptive task of deporting millions. But it is clear that any proposal for another form of legal immigration is irrelevent if the current de facto 'open borders' policy is not changed. For Bush's proposal to work, the border must be tightly controlled, or the workers will simply prefer the de facto lack of laws to a restrictive guest worker program.
An alternative is full amnesty, the position of Howard Dean and many Democrats. This would be making open borders an explicit policy, and is in effect a surrender to the failure of the status quo rather than any real policy to correct it. Our experience from the 1986 and rolling amnesties of the 1990s is that after each amnesty, illegal immigration increases more, Amnesty would reward lawbreakers, invite further waves of lawless immigration, and cause America to lose control of its demographic and socioeconomic destiny. It would be a "race to the bottom" and a disaster for America, that brings us all the negative consequences of uncontrolled migration without the benefits of sensible and measured immigration. Moreover, amnesty begs the question: If we dont turn any lawbreakers away, dont enforce our laws, do we even have an immigration law anymore?
The polls show clearly that the people are against any form of amnesty. A CNN-Gallup poll in January 2004 asked people whether the United States should make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens: 74 percent said no. It seems that the American people have a common sense view of the matter: It's not in our interests to reward law-breakers.
Bush has sensibly opposed blanket amnesty, but his own program has been attacked by some as a stealth form of amnesty, since it allows the illegal aliens to 'legalize' their position. The argument in Bush's favor on this has been that "Well, then at least we know who they are." But that leaves a few troubling questions: First, only those who choose to legalize themselves will come forward. What about those who dont? And what sort of incentives do we have in the system for doing so? And if the 'carrot' of citizenship looks too remote, where is the 'stick' in the proposal that would induce illegal aliens and their employers to turn away from lawbreaking and utilize a program that may force some compromises?
As we see, illegal immigration law enforcement is intimately tied to legal immigration, and vice versa. The only way to make the Bush program work is to pair it with immigration law enforcement and other changes to immigration law. Otherwise the lawbreakers will continue to act brazenly and ignore the law. We need both the carrot and the stick to end the current inducements to illegal immigration. What is the best way to do this?
1. Massively improve our lax, inefficient and hapless enforcement of immigration law.
2. Change the immigration laws themselves to end 'chain migration' and 'anchor babies' that encourage forms of illegal entry and behavior.
3. Give a reasonable incentive for decent prospects for employers and immigrants wanting to work together, in a way that doesnt open the immigration 'floodgates'.
In the following sections, we present proposals that would do all of the above. But if we did all this, it would beg the question of whether indeed we needed the guest worker program. Only if we wanted more cheap (but legal) labor.
PROPOSALS - IMPROVING ENFORCEMENT:
According to FAIR: "The CIR [Jordan commission] recommended additional barriers to illegal employment, including a computerized registry to verify work eligibility and the full use of already-existing (but seldom invoked) penalties against employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens." - http://www.fairus.org/ImmigrationIssueCenters/ImmigrationIssueCenters.cfm?ID=1169&c=12
1. Create verifiable documentation for use in employment to stop documentation fraud. Set up a national database for document verification so document fraud is tracked down and stopped. Require employers to verify employment and hold employers responsible for hiring illegal aliens. " It is remarkable to note that in 2002, [only] 13 businesses nationwide were fined by the Immigration and Naturalization Service for knowingly employing illegal aliens. ... One simple change could put teeth into the law. Employers should be required to confirm that the Social Security number presented by a worker has in fact been issued to that worker. A computerized database, much like the nationwide instant-background check used to verify gun buyers, could handle that job easily. Such a database already exists, but it is seldom used. " - Jay Bookman A program called the Basic Pilot program has been working which verifies identifications. It is currently a voluntary program, it works, and it can be extended as a required program for the Government and private employers. Documentation fraud is a common way for illegal aliens to get employment even in Government, and verification against that is a certain way to cut down on documentation fraud by illegal aliens: "In July 2003, a federal grand jury indicted 44 people for the use of fake ?green cards? to gain employment at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In October 2003, about 60 illegal alien workers were found to be working on a construction project for a new federal courthouse in Miami. Numerous cases of illegal alien workers have been uncovered working with fake identity documents at U.S. airports as a result of ?Operation Tarmac.? Even the U.S. Army has been duped into enlisting illegal aliens using phony immigration documents. See, for example, Deseret News, October 5, 2003; The New York Times, July 16, 2003; Rocky Mountain News, September 2, 2003; and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 7, 2003." http://www.fairus.org/ImmigrationIssueCenters/ImmigrationIssueCenters.cfm?ID=2314&c=13
1b. We should also develop and make the social security ID card a tamper-proof and fraud-proof form of identification, to reduce the abuse and fraud. Tom Tancredo has included this idea in his reform proposals.
1c. The Federal govt should discourage the issuance of driver's licenses to illegal aliens. HR. 3235, the Responsible and Secure ID Act, introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter, would withhold federal transportation funding from states issuing driver?s licenses to illegal aliens. States should put some form of visa/citizen status on driver's licences, and ensure that the expiration date of driver's licenses doesnt extend beyond the expiration date of valid visas. H.R. 655 would bar Federal agencies from accepting for any identification-related purposes a state-issued driver's license, or other comparable identification document, unless the document issued to a nonimmigrant alien expires at the same time as the alien's authorized period of stay in the United States. This is needed both for homeland security purposes, and because issuing drivers licenses to illegal aliens hampers enforcement of immigration law. http://www.fairus.org/Legislation/Legislation.cfm?ID=2284&c=66
2. Pass laws and use verifiable documentation to end immigration benefit fraud as well. It is rampant (see the GAO, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0266.pdf)
3. Increase alien detention space so that aliens ready for deportation are held in detention and not released to the streets where they merely evade deportation. Increase bail requirements for aliens to be released during deportation processes.
4. Abolish the EOIR (Executive office for Immigration Review) and the BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals); their work is redundant and these agencies are part of a system not designed to deport aliens that deserve to be deported, but designed to frustrate the enforcement of immigration law. What is wrong with EOIR? EOIR routinely grants "green cards" (lawful permanent resident status) to illegal aliens, and allows convicted criminal aliens to remain in the United States. As Michelle Malkin suggests in her book "Invasion": "Attorney General John Ashcroft should abolish the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the Board of Immigration Appeals and transfer their functions to existing law enforcement officers within the immigration bureaucracy. ... Restoring integrity to the immigration process will require closing the loopholes and black holes into which so many fugitive absconders, criminal aliens, and unwelcome guests have disappeared. " - Michelle Malkin INS and Border Patrol Counsels could replace this byzantine process and administrative removal orders could be given administratively.
5. Fund the FBI's enforcement of immigration law so that it is a priority for the agency. In particular, increase funding to enforce laws against employing illegal aliens.
6. Increase funding and manpower of U.S. Border Patrol. Increased border vigilance has in the past lowered crime and improved border security; we need more of it. If needed, assign US. military troops to help the Border Patrol regain control of our border. Use practical technology where helpful - fences, UAVs, motion detectors - to manage the borders so there are less border crossings.
7. Give incentives and rewards to private citizens who turn in or report illegal aliens who are subsequently deported.
8. Encourage local law enforcement to enforce immigration law as well. H.R. 2671, the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act, would give state and local law enforcement agencies the authority and resources needed to detain criminal illegal aliens within the course of their regular duties. It would also create a new grant program for the purchase of equipment for housing and processing illegal aliens.
9. Abolish 245(i) and other provisions of stealth amnesty that have been put there through law or court rulings. Criminal aliens should be deported without exceptions. For example, a loophole that gives women citizenship or LPR status for "spousal abuse" is an open invitation for fraud; men's lives have been destroyed by false allegations designed by illegal aliens to gain citizenship they wouldnt otherwise be entitled to. End that loophole in 204(a)(1)(A)(iii) of the immigration act. Hardship cases where felons are allowed to remain here because their dependents are here is also an open invitation to flout rules.
10. Do not accept nor allow the use of foreign ID or "matriculas" for use in banking, to obtain any Government aid or as an ID for any purpose.
CHANGING THE INCENTIVES FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS AND IMMIGRATION:
"There are many reasons immigration has returned to the high levels not seen since the beginning of the 20th century. One key factor is chain migration (the process whereby an immigrant who becomes a U.S. citizen is allowed to sponsor family members for obtaining immigrant visas). Other reasons are: illegal immigration; the amnesties which have allowed immigrants to make the transition to legal status and obtain green cards without leaving the country;and immigration law violators. Setting aside the problem of illegal immigration for a moment, the current system of legal immigration is not in accord with national needs, fuels undesirable population increase and cries out for major reform." -Jack Martin http://www.afsa.org/fsj/jun01/martinjune01.cfm
1. Granting automatic citizenship to the children of illegals born in the US must end. Children born here of foreigners should not automatically become US citizens, unless at least one parent is a legal US resident or citizen. Illegal aliens, those on temporary visas (under 1 yr) and diplomats would all be exempted from this as being foreigners "not under the jurisdiction of the United States". The 14th amendment is clear that people under the jurisdiction of the US born here are citizens. But it was not intended to apply to illegal aliens or other aliens in our country having kids, and illegal aliens are under the jurisdiction of their country of citizenship not ours. H.R. 1567 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or legal permanent resident aliens.
2. Restrict Federal public assistance to non-citizens except emergency health care. Per federal law (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act), no one can be turned away for basic emergency services. Amend it so labor and non-life-threatening health services are not a Federal requirement unless there is legal residency status. This misuse of hospitals by illegal aliens is expensive and self-perpetuating.
3. Repeal aspects of the 1965 immigration laws that distort our immigration patterns and reward 'least likely to success' immigrants in the legal permanent residency lottery.
A. End family sponsorship and 'chain migration'. Do not let adult parents and siblings of immigrants from getting in on family sponsorship. Family sponsorship should be restricted to the sons, daughters and spouses of citizens and permanent residents. These changes were a key part of the proposal of the Jordan commission on immigration. They should be adopted.
B. Place hard limits on immigration. Just as there are limits for employer sponsored categories, there should be a total hard limit of legal immigration. It should be not more than .2% of population per year, or about 700,000 per year. Lower limits are both possible and desireable.
3c. "Prioritize skilled workers over unskilled workers: The CIR recommended reducing the ceiling for employment-sponsored immigration, ending unskilled immigration, and ending the diversity visa lottery."
3d. We should use only the temporary worker visa for the unskilled workers, ie, discourage the use of a permanent employer sponsorship for the unskilled worker. We should set fees on the temporary worker visa program so that extremely low-wage employment is discouraged in this program. Guest workers should not bring their families unless the pay for the employment is more than twice the poverty-level wage. The reason for this is to discourage a 'race to the bottom' that hurts the wage rates of Americans on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. It should not be our policy to import workers simply to undercut those Americans most in need of employment opportunities.
3e. We should also end the 'diversity' visa programs that encourages 80% of immigration to come from the third world, while excessively discouraging European immigration. This is related to the previous 2 points, as the 'diversity' visa program in effect is a discouragement of the potentially most skilled immigrants and encouragement of least skilled immigrants from 3rd world countries. This is counterproductive to the most effective immigration policy. H.R. 775, the Security and Fairness Enhancement for America Act, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), would repeal this problematic program, which suffers from fraud and abuse by illegal aliens. http://www.fairus.org/Legislation/Legislation.cfm?ID=2288&c=66
3f. A simple replacement for this would be to restrict immigration so that no more than 20% of our immigration comes from any one country.
3g. "Simplify immigration categories: The CIR supported the basic set-up of our current immigration system, which divides immigrants into categories, but recommended that the categories be simplified to three: nuclear family members, professional and skilled workers, and refugees/other humanitarian admissions." http://www.fairus.org/ImmigrationIssueCenters/ImmigrationIssueCenters.cfm?ID=1169&c=12
3h. Require all future immigrants to declare their future intent to bring in family upon arrival. This way, families can immigrate in a controlled, orderly fashion without the current deceptions being used against the American public
4. Language: Change bilingual education to be a fast-track to English proficiency in the schools. Restore English-speaking requirements for citizenship.
5. Prohibit affirmative action preferences for non-citizens in Govt contracting. (Actually we should simply end affirmative action preferences period.)
6.Forbid any social security benefits to be paid out to illegal aliens who used fraudulent documents to obtain employment. This is simply a common-sense matter of not rewarding those who have broken the law from benefitting from their fraud. This also would add to the strain on the social security system. H.R. 1631 (Dana Rohrbacher sponsor) would prohibit illegal aliens from cashing into the Social Security system for any period of time during which the alien is not allowed to be employed.
7. Compile biometric information on Illegals, and declare that they will be permanently ineligible for citizenship.
Guest worker provisions:
1.We should punish those countries that are the soure of illegal immigration, by adopting a rule where if the country is the source of excessive illegal immigration, the legal immigration quota is commensurately reduced. Any country participating in this program cannot be responsible for allowing more than 10,000 of their citizens a year to be caught breaking our immigration laws. They can evade this limit by working with us by jailing those caught breaking our immigration laws. For example, with this provision we could induce Mexican law enforcement to help find and jail "coyotes" who assist illegal border crossers and get help and commitment from Mexico to battle illegal immigration from their side.
2. No temporary worker or his/her family and/or offspring shall qualify for any non-emergency public assistance program.
3. Instead of the employment having to be at least 125% of poverty wages to have the family join, make it 200% of poverty wages. This will make the need for public assistance for families less.
The bad idea category is any form of amnesty to illegal immigration. This is the way to go if you want an uncontrolled system of immigration, But while Republicans oppose blanket amnesty many have signed on to feel-good legislation that amounts to mini amnesties. 'amnesty' is a term that could also be applied to the McCain version of the guest worker program, with an explicit visa category for illegal aliens.
This includes the use of 245(i) amnesties, which should be abolished not extended. It also includes the attempt to grant amnesty to ag workers through a massive expansion of that guest worker program. "Amnesty recipients under S. 1645 would need only to work 360 hours of agricultural work (the equivalent of 45 eight hour days) within seven years to receive a green card." And this uses an expansive definition of an agricultural worker to include landscapers. So an illegal alien landscaper for a mere season in the last 7 years need only make a claim, with poor documentation that is wide open to fraud, and they are amnestied, along with their entire family. These bills will only make our illegal immigration population larger, as it will induce many to come to America first and then try to get amnesty second. Do we want that? Indeed a question may be asked: If a new guest worker program is proposed, isnt it redundant with an agricultural guest worker program?
The DREAM Act (S.1545, cosponsored by Orrin Hatch) would allow illegal aliens to attend state universities at in-state tuition rates, while unfairly denying those benefits to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants from other states. The bill would also grant amnesty to college-bound and other illegal aliens as well as provide legal status to the family members of these illegal aliens through chain migration. There is no upper age limit on eligibility. Nor shuold we add to in-state costs of legal residents by letting the children of illegal aliens get in-state tuition rates.
Thus the formula for success is a balanced and complete reform, not one that adds just another visa to the pile. A small guest worker program, vigorous enforcement of law, and end chain migration and anchor babies. then we would have a saner policy: more space for the 'workers only' migrants, no flood of illegal aliens, and a manageable labor influx that doesn't hurt American workers.
In the House, elements of these reforms are being proposed. Tom Tancredo has pushed a bill in the House that embodies most of these principles.
In the mid-1990s, the Jordan Commission looked into our policies on immigration and came to the same broad conclusions. They said: "The credibility of immigration policy can be measured by a simple yardstick: people who should get in do get in; people who should not get in are kept out; and people who are judged deportable are required to leave." - Jordan Commission on Immigration Reform These goals should be in our minds as we go about fixing the broken immigration system.
Ah, but it does. One of the major causes of illegal immigration, and the major political obstacle to stopping it, is the demand for illegal immigrant labor. Although it may not sound like it, Bush's proposal does deal with this, albeit in a rather sneaky way.
In a few placed, illegal immigrant labor might be competitive with the labor of citizens and permanent legal residents if it had to be performed on the same terms, but in most cases it probably isn't. The only reason illegal immigrants have a competitive advantage is that employers can rely upon them not to squeal about violations of labor laws. It is that inability to squeal that sets illegals apart from everyone else.
So what does Bush's proposal do? It subdivides the present group of "undocumented workers" into two subgroups: (1) those whose employer will go on record as hiring them; (2) those with no willing employer of record. People who take the first path won't have a competitive advantage over citizens and permanent legal residents, so there won't be much demand for their labor. And people in the second group may be regarded as freeloaders and deported as such, since they're unwilling to provide any evidence that they actually work.
Bush didn't use an executive order as Clinton would have and the debate is now in Congress's lap.
Neither of us can really know what Bush has up his sleeve. But if I were planning increased enforcement, I'd keep quiet about that while putting this current proposal in place. Therefore, the fact that Bush is keeping mum about it doesn't concern me. To be sure, it's quite possible--perhaps likely--that Bush isn't planning any particular enforcement, but I see no particular evidence one way or the other.
Going to bed now, though. Will read tomorrow morning.
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