A Modest Amnesty Proposal
Everywhere I go these days someone wants to talk about illegal immigration. It is definitely a hot button, and I am convinced it will be one of the top issues (after the economy) in the 2012 election campaign.
The battle lines have certainly been drawn. On one side you have the ultra-liberals, who favor blanket amnesty for every illegal that happens to be present in the United States at a given moment. On the other side you have the ultra-conservatives, who want to roundup everyone who is not a citizen and ship them back from whence they came.
Neither of these options is realistic. The amnesty proposal would reward people for illegal conduct. The "round-‘em-up-and-ship-‘em-home" idea is not feasible from a manpower, time, cost aspect – and political will. Then there must be some middle ground.
Although I know I am only the president of the Board of County Commissioners, and not President of the United States, I have thought long and hard about this and I would like to present my plan.
I would call my proposal "The National Deficit Reduction and Path to Citizenship Act."
Here are the basic components of the plan I would propose:
1.) An illegal resident would apply for participation in the Path to Citizenship. The threshold requirement would be that the person must have no serious criminal record (this would have to be defined), be gainfully employed, and not be receiving any government assistance at the time of application and throughout the citizenship process. This means no government assisted housing, healthcare, food stamps, free cell phones, etc.
2.) The applicant must pass a basic English proficiency test within three years of the application.
3.) The applicant will pay an initial application fee of $3,000. This can be paid over the first year of the program, at $250 per month.
4.) The applicant will have three years to pass the English proficiency test, meet all other requirements of citizenship, and raise an additional $6,000. At the end of the three year period, the applicant must pay an additional $6,000 and will thereupon be granted a United States Citizenship.
5.) Those who do not apply – or fail to comply in the "The National Deficit Reduction and Path to Citizenship Act" – will be deported to their country of origin! Most will self deport once the government teat is pulled from their lips.
It is estimated that we now have 10-20 million illegal residents in the country right now. If only half of them apply for the Path to Citizenship, that would be $50 to $90 billion added to the Treasury. Under my proposal this money would be earmarked both for border security and for aid to the states to help offset the costs of educating the children of illegal residents in the public schools.
One thing that stands out immediately from my plan is that it only works if simultaneously we completely secure our borders. Otherwise, there will be a rush of people seeking immediate citizenship from the United States government. This plan is designed to deal with the problem we have now, not entice more people to immigrate to the United States.
And I don’t want to hear that it is too costly, or is technically impossible, to secure our borders. If our smart guys can design a system where CIA operatives sit in a cave deep under the Nevada desert and pilot unmanned drones that can pick off al Qaeda leaders in caravans half way around the world, they can figure out a way to keep people from entering our country without our knowledge or permission. The Chinese did it thousands of years ago with their Great Wall, and we have somewhat more technology than they had then, although maybe not more common sense.
And for those who say that the $9,000 is too much and is an unfair burden, we have learned that many of these illegals pay considerably more than that to the coyotes and other smugglers as a fee to get them into this country crammed into buses, trucks and railroad cars in inhumane conditions. Many of these people would work 2-3 jobs, day and night to secure citizenship for themselves and their children. I don’t think $9,000 is too much to ask to be a citizen of this great country. Maybe it is not enough?
It seems that every time somebody proposes real and meaningful immigration reform it is torpedoed by opponents either on the left or on the right, and sometimes by both. Two of the biggest problems we face in the United States now are our long term debt and illegal immigration. This would be an attempt to deal with both.
And here’s one other word on this subject. Recently I came under criticism about my co-ownership of Taxi-Fiesta, which is a division of the transportation company I own with Jerry Wood. Some people seem to think that although all of our drivers are legal residents of the United States, we should somehow be verifying the immigration status of anyone who gets in the backseat of a cab.
Needless to say, this is silly. Our business no more caters to illegal immigrants than does the county’s Transit System or any other transportation service which is open to the general public. It is ensured that anyone who drives a cab is a documented resident of this country. People sitting in the backseat do not work for us, and we are not in a position to demand documentation as a condition of their getting a ride to Walmart. I would think that people would have more sense than that.
Everyone knows that legal residents of this country can cause just as much trouble in the back of a taxicab as illegal residents. We lost our good friend and driver Steve Mauk to the heinous act of a murderous individual who was born and raised in this country. On June 23rd I along with many of Steve’s colleagues and friends will be watching closely, and hope that this scumbag gets what he deserves, which is life in prison without the possibility of parole. I would prefer the death penalty, but unfortunately under the laws of this state that is not possible. And that’s another law I would like to change and another column to write.