It’s hard to think of any other political issue that is as difficult to solve as illegal immigration. Politicians have been trying to “find a solution” for this issue for decades. Yet, we continue to have an insecure border and millions of people are living here illegally. We need to solve this issue not necessarily for political gain, but because it is the right thing to do.
The United States is one of the few first world countries to have a direct border with a third world country. The economic disparity between the relatively wealthy United States and the relatively poor Mexico has driven millions of Mexicans and other Latin Americans to seek better jobs and opportunities in the US — often times illegally. The long term solution to this is for Mexico to become wealthier.
However, there are many things we can and should do in the meantime.
Conservatives and libertarians alike need to realize a few things regarding this important issue.
First of all, we’re not going to deport 8-20 million people. To round them up and remove all them would require a massive expansion of the federal government and in all likelihood, further loss of civil liberties (Yes, even illegal immigrants have constitutional rights). In addition, the idea of “self-deportation” is simply a fantasy.
Secondly, libertarians especially need to realize that completely open borders are not possible while we still adhere to the concept of the nation state. The reason why we institute government in the first place is to provide for a common defense. Part of that common defense is keeping out possible terrorists, members of organized crime organizations, and those with infectious diseases.
That being said, here are my broad ideas for immigration reform.
1. We need to secure the border. We need to ensure that areas where we can build barriers economically can actually slow entry attempts. We need to make sure we have enough Border Patrol agents and make sure that they are well equipped to patrol the border. We won’t stop all illegal border crossings, but we can and should stop a lot more than we do now.
2. While we are securing the border we need to address our atrocious legal immigration system. The current system is too complex, too cumbersome, and for many would-be migrants it is not worth the trouble to enter the country legally. It is get here illegally. We need to streamline the system and make it as easy as possible to enter legally while at the same time protect America’s security. We also need to create a guest worker program that serves the needs of American businesses and our economy, while protecting our national security.
3. We need to find a humane way to deal with those already in the country illegally. We should not grant them an automatic path to citizenship. That is unfair to those who came here legally under the current law. Instead, we should give them the right to remain in the country temporarily until each case is processed on an individual case-by-case basis. Under current law, any non-immigrant visa can be converted to an immigrant status (such as a “green card”). However, each application is processed on a case-by-case basis. It is my opinion that most of those in the country illegally will not take advantage of a path to citizenship and instead will take advantage of a guest worker program.
We need to reform our immigration system, not to win any political fights, but because it is the best thing to do for our national security.
We also must show humanity and compassion to those who only came to this country to support their families.
I certainly believe we can do both.