Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fixing Immigration

A couple weeks ago an issue came up in the comments, which I think should be officially raised in an article: how to fix immigration. This may be the most pressing issue of our time for a number of reasons and fixing the problem will prove to be incredibly difficult. But it can be done. Here’s what I recommend.

For starters, let me point out that there is no silver bullet to resolve this problem. Sealing the borders won’t work as most illegal immigrants find other ways here (plus the real problem is those who are already here). It’s a logistical near-impossibility to deport eleven million people. Big business wants workers and will fight anything which reduces illegal immigration, so will the Democrats who want voters. The public no longer trusts the political class because they’ve lied about this too much. Hence, an amnesty won’t work because no one trusts the promises that will be made to justify it.

All in all, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t and no one. . . no one is going to let you try anything.

That sounds bleak. But it doesn’t mean we can’t fix the problem, it just means it requires a more careful plan. Indeed, any effective plan will need to be done quietly at first, so people don’t freak out, and the goal must be to build the trust needed to implement the harder parts to come.

With that in mind, I think the best strategy would be this. . . spread over two Romney terms:

Step One: In the first week in office, Romney (and the Republican Congress where needed) should slash the number of legal immigrants allowed into the US each year in half. This shouldn’t be too difficult as Obama raised the number and Romney can explain he is simply reversing that, giving new immigrants time to join the melting pot, and preventing the environmental problems of importing enough people to populate Denver each year. He can also use high unemployment as a reason. The idea here is to reduce the number of immigrants who would otherwise be in the country over the next four years by about two million. I’ll explain why in a moment.

Step Two: As soon as possible, end all payroll deductions for any business which doesn’t use the eVerify system. This would provide a strong incentive for businesses to use the system, but wouldn’t freak out big business by making it a criminal offense to hire illegals. This “voluntary compliance” would go a long way to making it harder for illegals to find work and many will leave.

Step Three: Fix Mexico. This would take several years, but the idea would be to provide military and police assistance and heavy financial aid in exchange for more libertarian economic policies along with deregulation and the busting of massive corporate empires. The idea here would be to get Mexico on its feet and turn it into a magnet for workers from all over the Americas, i.e. instead of us. If this works, and it should, then Mexico could become the destination of choice for Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants and it could draw back a large chunk of the eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Step Four: Fix the guest worker program. One of the problems which has arisen is that with American paranoia over 9/11 and the border with Mexico, it has become increasingly risky for guest workers to leave the country again because there is a significant chance they won’t get back in come the next season (they are mainly farm workers). As a result, many of them have left Mexico permanently, even though they don’t want to, and brought their families here so they don’t need to run that risk. We need to make sure these people understand that they will be able to return to the US each season when needed. That way they have no reason to stay here illegally. Moreover, fixing this program will be essential to getting Big Business to stop fighting the other reforms because they can get the labor they need through this program.
If everything goes right, by the end of Romney’s first time, this program would have born the following results:
1. A reduction in the number of legal immigrants on the order of two million from those who would have otherwise been here.

2. A reduction in the number of illegal immigrants because of reduced job opportunities because of the eVerify system, improving conditions in Mexico, and the clean up of the guest worker program. Judging on the effects of the last recession, this could be anywhere from (rough guess) one to two million.

3. The pacification of Big Business as an opponent.
This means Romney can tell the public that his policies have reduced the number of “immigrants by up to four million” in his first term. This should buy him some good will with the public, for what is to come. Moreover, he can then show how the eVerify system worked, and he can make the case that those who are left likely are here for reasons other than just economics and probably have ties to the country. Thus:
Step Five: At the beginning of the second term, Romney makes the use of eVerify mandatory and imposes criminal punishments for employers who hire illegals.

Step Six: Romney proposes a long-term amnesty as follows: (1) Illegals will be required to report themselves within a month. Anyone who fails to report will be ineligible for the amnesty, as will anyone who arrives after the amnesty date (and those with criminal records). Those people will be deported immediately and local police will be required to report them to ICE. (2) For those who did report themselves, they will be issued a new “green card” which lets them act like citizens, except voting. They may work and must pay taxes. They can get drivers licenses, insurance, report crimes to the police, etc. (3) If you recall in Step One, we cut the number of legal immigrants in half. Now we do that again and allocate one half of those slots for legal immigrants and one half for converting illegals into legals, who can then apply for citizenship just like other legal immigrants. The goal would be to make them all legal over a decade long period.

Step Seven: Follow through and deport everyone who didn’t register.
Honestly, I think this is the only solution. Whether conservatives like it or not, there needs to be some way to make these people legal. Right now they can’t report crimes, can’t get car insurance (making them a road menace), and don’t pay taxes. And there just is no way to deport them. Making them legal fixes all of that -- it might also endear them to the Republican Party for making that happen. Not to mention, it will let them get on the social ladder to become property owners and stakeholders in the community, which will lead them toward conservatism.

Who would be upset by this? The left would be upset at the drop in immigration numbers, but the public won’t have a problem with that. The left will certainly be upset by the stepped-up, zero-tolerance deportations program, but they won’t have a leg to stand on since this will be given in exchange for making millions of illegals legal. The public be upset at the amnesty, but not as much as you might think because this method softens the blow considerably by reducing the number of immigrants overall to offset this amnesty. Indeed, at the end of his second term, Romney could report a “drop” (non-increase) of four million immigrants plus whatever illegals left because of eVerify and the stronger pull of Mexico. That should reduce the opposition to amnesty because it shows the public good faith that the political class is finally doing the hard part first.

Thoughts?


P.S. Don't forget, it's Star Trek Tuesday at the film site.

65 comments:

Anthony said...

Andrew,

Its worth bearing in mind that 2/3 of the legal immigration to the US is through family reunification and another 17% consists of refugees (including but not limited to Cubans). Family reunification visas (unlike employment visas) aren't capped, though they are subject to time limits, so it wouldn't be a matter of the administration waving a magic wand, laws would need to be changed.

One interesting critique (though arguably an elitist one) of the US visa system is that by prioritizing family reunification and refugees over skills or money (something Canada does) that we aren't necessarily bringing in the people who are in the best position to help our country economically.

Its also worth keeping in mind that businesses go where labor is cheapest. If there are equal quality (or even adequate) workers available elsewhere, and businesses can't bring the workers here, they will go to the workers. Lowering a cap businesses are already complaining about on legal workers will only convince them to set up shop abroad. It would be like raising the minimum wage. Voters would applaud, companies would vote with their feet.

Last but not least, remaking Mexico is an interesting idea, but nation building is tough and expensive. Given the belt tightening the US will need, I have a hard time imagining voters going along with that expense. There's also the small matter of Mexico's somewhat prickly nationalism (I don't think people would throw flowers at the feet of battations of American soldiers or welcome drone strikes on drug lords in heavily populated areas).

Last but not least, but the accounts I have read, illegal immigration has declined under Obama (screwing up the economy is a wonderway way to deter illegals) and the amount of legal immigration has been steady since 2000. *Shrugs* But perhaps the numbers I checked are wrong. Where have you seen different numbers?

http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/lpr_fr_2011.pdf

Anthony said...

Correction: There is a per country cap on even family based visas, but it doesn't affect Amcits.

Anthony said...

Anyway, I agree with you that we need to toughen up on enforcement and also offer a path to citizenship.

I disagree with you that legal immigration should be chopped as some sort of display of seriousness.

I understand that deporting millions of people is unfeasible, but it strikes me as unfair to penalize people (and companies) who are obeying the law (those who are outside and going through the visa process to get in, with all the fees and time that implies) and reward those who people who said 'Screw it! I'm sneaking in!'.

StanH said...

This is indeed a major cluster phuck, and as you’ve pointed out will take real spine to fix, Gov. Scott Walker kind of spine. 1) Reverse everything that Barry’s done, that’s a no brainer. 2) “eVerify” Though I employ zero illegal’s, I know small businesses that have tried to re-convert back to legal’s only, to no avail. The reasons are many, dilution of available work pool, either by availability, or native poor work ethic. This also puts the onus on small businesses to fix a problem created by society as a whole. Trust me, it’s tough enough to keep a business going and profitable, without becoming border agents. 3) Fixing Mexico? Mexico has been a basket case for centuries, that has landed on a Plutocracy, with spectacularly wealthy families who control the levers of real power, it matters not who wins the elections. Short of an invasion not likely to change, but I guess the Drug Cartel, is liken to Panhco Villa, who will be our Black Jack Pershing? 4) No problem with the Guest Worker Program.



My fix would be a bit more draconian: 1) Secure the border. 2) Cut off the goodies, Food Stamps, Sanctuary cities, etc. 3) Expand the Guest Worker program, by allowing anyone here illegally to attain a Green Card, if they don’t, this will separate the legal from the illegal instantly. Then use eVerify, allowing small business zero culpability unless they hire someone without a Green Card. The illegal’s at this point would begin self deporting. 4) Then the big one, change our Tax system to a Fair Tax, or consumption tax, whatever you prefer, this will make everyone pay taxes, including the incredibly wealthy who no longer have taxable income, by using offshore accounts, trusts, etc. This is a big deal, with no quick fix, those are my thoughts.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Andrew
Illegal immigration is a crime and should be treated as such.
Deportation has worked before,everyone seems to have a blind spot on Eisenhower's deporting illegals in the fifties.
If a malady is ignored long enough it can become terminal, illegal immigration is such a malady.
Chemo is not desirable but it can save the patient, ie. tough problems require tough solutions.

Tennessee Jed said...

This is a very well thought out proposal, Andrew. Sure, we can't know how well "fixing" Mexico would work in reality, but even if it is half as successful as planned, it would be an improvement. When times are tough here, the flow seems to be slowing, but when the recovery starts, it will pour again. Thus, the only solution, really, is to "fix" Mexico.

DUQ said...

Andrew, I don't care for some parts of this personally, BUT I think this is probably the only way to do it.

I don't like the idea of curbing legal immigration, but without that, the public will never accept an amnesty.

At the same time, I would like to see the illegals sent home because they broke the law rather than given amnesty, but deporting 11 million people is a pipe dream and a stupid one at that. Not only is it logistically impossible, but the political cost would destroy whatever party tried to do that. So I accept that we can't go that route either.

So in the end, I agree. This is a problem without a happy solution.

Well done.

DUQ said...

Jed, It wouldn't even need to be a totally successful fix. It's the economic concept of "at the margin." Every little bit Mexico improves is more people who won't leave or who will come back.

rlaWTX said...

Tom, I've never heard about Ike's deportation program. How many, how long of a time frame, how successful?

gotta work - more after thinking...

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony,

I think legal immigration must be capped as part of this plan for two reasons. First, the public will not accept "adding" eleven million "new people" so you've got to be able to show some sort of offset. Secondly, the political class needs to overcome decades of lies now before the public will ever agree to something they don't like on this issue. And the only way to do that is to show with genuine numbers that they have finally done something.

In terms of changing the laws, if that needs to be done, then you do it. That's not really an impediment. But it should be noted that two years ago, Obama raised the caps (basically doubled them) without going through Congress, so there is administrative discretion there.

On business leaving, first, that's what fixing the guest worker program is about, so they still have the labor they need. Also, labor costs have been rising around the world and the US is becoming much more competitive, so even if labor costs rise here, I wouldn't be too worried. Not to mention, simply allowing the situation to continue has too high of a social burden.

On fixing Mexico, there are many things that can be done to help and they don't all cost a fortune. I would not send US troops, but it would make sense to send FBI units and maybe military advisers. There are other things which could be done too like import preferences for Mexican business, etc.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, It's not fair to punish those who are obeying the law in favor of those who aren't. But it's a question of alternatives. Someone will be treated unfairly here no matter way -- unless you want to do deportations -- so it's a question of who. Cutting the number of legal immigrants will make this palatable to the public. Otherwise, I think the public will revolt when you make any attempt to legalize these people. And the people who get hurt with the cut are people who aren't here yet.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, The numbers are all hazy of course, but it is estimated that between 1-2 million illegals left because of the bad economy. That's why I think eVerify would probably get rid of another 1-2 million. The rest, I think, are here to stay.

T-Rav said...

I think I agree with most of this program, except Step Three. Fixing Mexico is a lot easier said than done. Political and military assistance is an uncertain thing at best, due to widespread corruption and the fact that in so many states, people are more afraid of the drug cartels than they are of the government. When you factor in those semi-autonomous corporate entities and the generally fractured nature of the Mexican polity, there's so much to do to "fix" things we might well spend all our time figuring out what to do first.

And let's not forget that Mexico sees our porous border as a good thing--it's their release valve for the unstable El Norte. It's completely against their interests, under the current circumstances, for that to be sealed up.

That said, I agree on the need to do something to improve conditions in Mexico and incentivize them to work with us on this. Maybe it would be better to put the stick before the carrot--really ramp up our presence on the border and shut down that release valve ourselves, so that Mexico would have no choice but to deal with the situation more effectively. Then again, that could also cause the country to collapse, so I don't know.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, While I think your plan would work in a real world sense, that is basically an amnesty and I'm not sure that it could be done politically because the public won't accept the idea of 11 million people "being let in" at once. That's why I think you need the first couple steps first, to show the public that you are serious about fixing this permanently and won't just turn around and declare another amnesty in twenty years.

AndrewPrice said...

Tom, It's a logistical impossibility to deport eleven million people. And it will be just as bad to keep them from coming back.

Not to mention, the political price would be too high for any politician to even consider that plan. You would have mass protests, cities (and probably even a couple states) declaring safe zones and standing up to the feds. People who knew these people would be outraged that neighbors who've been here for 20 years are being rounded up. And so on. No politician will step into that firestorm.

This problem can't be fixed through deportation.

tryanmax said...

How would you propose the federal government deal with so-called "sanctuary cities" and, more practically speaking, the sanctuary states that house said cities?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Fixing Mexico would be a huge change. That is where most illegal aliens have come from. Many would go back if things got better there. And if it became more prosperous, then it would become the magnet for Spanish-speaking immigrants from South/Central America because of the language issue and it would be easier to get to.

How well could we fix Mexico? Who knows, but every little bit helps because people make their decisions at the margin. So when you shift wages up in Mexico, people at the margin either return or stay home. And the greater the shift, the greater the number of people at the margin.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I don't care for it either, but no one will be happy with any solution we come up with. I think this is the best plan because it's the most feasible because everybody gets something they want in exchange for giving up something they hate. Remember, this is a political issue and you have to win people over before you act. I think this is the only way.

And I do agree that deportation simply won't work, not logistically, not politically. It would turn into a nightmare for whoever tried it.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, LOL! I said the same thing to Jed. This is about changes at the margin! Great minds! :)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Eisenhower's deportation program was called "Operation Wetback." It was an attempt to deport Mexicans in California, Arizona and Texas right near the border. Basically, they raided Mexican neighborhoods in the border towns. Then they took these people deep into Mexico by bus or ferry and dropped them off in the hopes they wouldn't come back.

All told, they managed to deport 130,000. (The INS claims another million left out of fear, but that sounds like bureaucratic BS.)

By way of comparison, Obama deported 400,000 people last year. At that pace (and assuming no one new comes), it would take 30 years to deport them all.... assuming we can find them and places like San Francisco don't try to hide them.

T-Rav said...

As much as I would like to see widespread deportation, I agree it would be a disaster that could possibly break the GOP. Not only could it turn out to be electoral disaster in a couple of big states like Texas and Florida where Hispanics are so numerous, but I imagine businessmen would throw a fit, and you would probably also have a lot of self-styled "libertarians" throwing in with the sanctuary cities and so on. While I wouldn't mind the latter so much, as it would at least prove how far we can really trust that group, this is a situation that should be avoided at all costs.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Fixing Mexico would be the hardest part, but I think it can be done -- especially as they have lots of natural resources and several South American countries have shown how it can be done. The question would be what form would it take? This is where carrots and sticks come into play as you say.

On the one hand, we can offer policing and military assistance. We can also offer market favors which make them more profitable. We can also flat out bribe them with foreign aid. Moreover, there are many things they want from us, like opening up our roads to their truckers. Those are all carrots.

On the sticks, as you note, we could close the borders, we could indict lots of their most important people for one crime or another, we could use anti-trust laws against their businesses who also do business here, etc. We aren't without tools.

The question would be meeting their leaders and working with them to figure out how to reform the country. That would be beyond the scope of this article, but we have done it in other countries before.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, You wouldn't need to deal with them initially under this program because the federal government controls the legal immigration numbers and the eVerify system wouldn't be a city/state-wide issue. If a city tried to ban its use, like I think San Francisco tried, then I would get a federal judge to invalidate their law.

Beyond that, however, once you pass the amnesty portion, I would include a provision making sanctuary cities illegal and allowing the federal government to cut off all federal funds to states/cities who make such a declaration. Being inside the amnesty bill would make opposition to that virtually impossible.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think it would be a political nightmare. For one thing, world news would be flooded with images of millions of people and families being tossed, which would make us look like a pariah state. That would play very, very poorly with everyone except the hard-core anti-immigration people. That will swing over a huge part of the public. Not to mention, average people will get upset at the deportation of people they've known for years.

Then you get big and small business who will freak out at the loss of their workers. The libertarians will leave the GOP. Don't underestimate how many of the Religious Right will freak out over this as well who will see it as anti-Christian. And you would get generations of truly angry Hispanics who will never vote for the GOP again.

I think the political cost would be the death of the GOP if they tried to deport these people.

And the real irony would be that they would never get more than a few thousand before things imploded. You'd see sanctuary cities everywhere (or even sanctuary states). The democrats would filibuster everything. The courts would stop most of it.

Then whoever left would find their way back in.

In the end, the GOP would have blown itself apart and made itself unelectable for nothing.

Doc Whoa said...

Thought provoking as always Andrew. It would be easier to just do what Stan says and let them all get greencards, but that would never fly with the public.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Doc. Stan's plan is much simpler and in an ideal world, that would be the easy way to do it. But this isn't an ideal world and the problem with just granting an amnesty is that the public knows the political class won't do the hard part and start deporting those who come afterwards, nor will they try to tighten the borders. So why should the public trust that an amnesty will stop the problem?

tryanmax said...

I've re-read the article twice now, and every portion contains something that would unpalatable to some segment of the population...at least, based on what I have been led to believe by the various media. I wonder how accurate our picture is of general attitudes toward immigration.

Comparing my own anecdotal experience against any one of the national narratives, be it right-wing, left-wing, or even centrist, I cannot say that I know anyone who feels the way they are "supposed" to regarding the immigration issue.

e.g. the Mexican immigrants I know all oppose illegal immigration and amnesty, though many have succumb to the Democrat lie that Republicans just want to deport Mexicans willy-nilly.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The key here is balance and spreading the pain. This is not an issue where anyone can appear to win or everyone else will reject the solution. So you have.

1. Illegals gain a path to citizenship, but must now take on the burdens of citizenship -- taxes, insurance, law abidance. They also must pay the price of angering legal immigrants whose numbers will be cut to make room for them. And they must support the deportation of those who come later.

2. The left gets amnesty, but must wait for it, must support deportation of criminals and those who fail to register, and those who come later. They also lose this as an issue to hang over the Republicans.

3. The right is forced to accept amnesty, but gets a cut in immigration to offset it, gets a solid future deportation program, gets more secure borders.

4. Business gets their labor, but must participate in enforcing these laws through eVerify.

5. The public must swallow the idea that people who got here illegally can now be made legal. But in exchange they get safer streets, more tax revenue, and they get a solid promise that this is the last time we need to do this.

6. The Democrats get their voters (or so they think) but it will take 10 years to get them eligible to vote and their loyalties may have changed because the GOP gave them citizenship. In exchange, they need to agree to deportations and they lose the "the Republicans are racist" crap.

7. The GOP gets blasted from the right for the amnesty, but will gain lots of Hispanic votes, will end the idea of the GOP being racist, and can brag about lowering numbers and safer streets.

Everyone gets something and everyone loses something. Moreover, what everyone loses is just a little less valuable than what everyone gains. So all parties should be happy.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, In terms of how "everyone feels," that's the real problem here because there is a disconnect. Not only do you have the MSM presenting the far left politicized view as the norm, but you have right-wing radio presenting the borderline racist view as the norm.

At the same time, when you talk to people, you find that while everyone want "them" gone, they all make exceptions for their neighbor or the guy who cuts their lawn or "the people who are just here to work." So it's a complicated issue and I don't think people are as angry as we are led to believe. I think they are mainly angry at the political class for lying for so long about their fake attempts to fix this.

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, I think that's true. I know a lot of people who are very angry about the number of illegal aliens, but aren't upset with the ones they know. And their anger always goes back to the federal government looking the other way as this problem grew and then coming up with plans to fix it which even a fool would know can't fix the problem.

Doc Whoa said...

Also, I think you're breakdown of winners and loser to tryanmax is very insightful. It seems that you've come up with a plan where everybody thinks they're gaining a little more than they think they're losing. Neat.

Doc Whoa said...

your, not you're.

tryanmax said...

I think there is even greater disconnect than just that. I don't see that people are really even making exceptions for anyone. Few people seem to even know who is illegal. It's more of an "if" exception. "If my neighbor/lawn guy is illegal." "If they are just here to work."

Plus, there is one demographic that is angry, but they are routinely ignored: the legal immigrant population. For the life of me, I don't know why the GOP doesn't address this group directly. So far as I can tell, it is a total falsehood that immigrants who took the time and effort to come legally support for some reason the presence of others who cheated the system. Nothing I've seen firsthand bears that out.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, That's been my experience. In fact, that's pretty much how these things always go. People don't like "them" in the abstract, and they are willing to entertain all kinds of solutions to the problem of "them," but they don't like it when those solutions get applied to people they actually know. It's the same way with budget cuts. Everyone wants the budge cut, but then they try to protect the things the get themselves.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, The winners and losers thing is how you need to look at politics -- or any sort of negotiation. Each side needs to feel like they come out better off as a result of the deal and no one can feel that anyone else got off scot-free or that anyone got a lot more than anyone else.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, This is in response to both of your points: around here at least, there is a sense that if someone looks like a Mexican, then they must be here illegally. Call it racist or whatever, but I hear that over and over. So if the GOP started mingling with the people who are here legally, it would appear to the public that they are embracing the illegal community and that wouldn't fly too well.

Secondly, I think the GOP avoids legal immigrants because they have bought into the MSM spin (as they always do when it comes to anything related to minorities) and they see the legal immigrant community as solely concerned with helping the illegals become legal. In my experience, that's backwards. But that is what the MSM says and the GOP is a sucker for the MSM. And since the GOP is terrified that the right will get them if they are seen as pro-illegal immigration, they run away from legal immigrants as well.

BTW, anything you would change in the plan?

tryanmax said...

Andrew, the only thing I would change are some of the political assumptions that necessitate such a plan, but I've already been there.

I would only expand the point about fixing Mexico to include the way I would sell it to the American people. I would point out and place great emphasis on the fact that Mexico is our geographic neighbor, and if there is any country on the planet we should have a vested interest in, it is our neighbor. Some strategic drawdown of our overseas presence somewhere in the world to underline this point. But I think our historical foibles in the Western Hemisphere are enough forgotten that such rhetoric shouldn't raise too many hackles.

I suppose there are a fair number of people who assume that anyone Mexican must be illegal. I just don't encounter enough of them to consider them all that influential, but there may be less of them where I am. (I can only imagine what it's like in W.b.G.Va.) Still, if the GOP would stop listening to the MSM and actually side with legal immigrants in reality instead of just rhetoric, it might help to break down some of those misconceptions. But a zebra can't change its spots, or something like that ;)

tryanmax said...

I meant to say that a drawdown might be needed to underline the point. I wrote some funky half-formed sentence there.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I think you've created a very good plan. No plan is perfect, and one reality is that after a plan has been implemented, those things which aren't working should be modified or eliminated and those things that work should be enhanced. Overall, it's pretty much the plan I would come up with, though I would be a bit more aggressive with deportation. But that's a detail.

I also think that Marco Rubio's plan has merits which would complement yours. Though I would not reward the "innocent" kids whose parents came here dragging the kids with them, I truly think that we must make an accommodation for them where feasible. I do think that getting an education is a good idea for them, but I think military service or some other form of public service should also be required of them before they are fast-tracked for citizenship.

Reducing legal immigration quotas to offset the number of illegals already here is an excellent suggestion.

My final thought, having lived most of my life in cities with large illegal immigrant populations. As part of this program, we will have to substantially increase federal, state and local gang units and an accelerated incarceration and deportation rate. It's one thing to have a practical sympathy for illegals who arrive here for a better life. It's quite another to tolerate in any way, shape or form the ever-increasing numbers of illegals who arrive here as part of a violent gang intrusion. The economy has slowed down much of the former type of immigration, but the criminal element rate has hardly slowed at all. MS-13 is now likely the largest and most dangerous gang in the nation and has gone completely interstate. Its numbers are growing by leaps and bounds, and it is far from simply a border intrusion from Mexico. Much of Central and South America along with the Caribbean are involved. These gangs must be put out of business and their members deported at a very early stage.

rlaWTX said...

Since step 3 (fixing Mexico) seems to be a general sticking point, what does the plan look like if that step is skipped or is unsuccessful?

I think that Stan's #1&#2 should be added into your step 1. I think a lot of people along the border are fed up with the gov't's lack of buy-in to border protection. I realize that "securing the border" is a little phrase for a BIG problem, but serious effort toward that goal and enforcement of laws actually on the books would go a long way toward convincing border states the gov't isn't just mouthing.

Like I said in the previous discussion, the knee-jerk, right-wing response to "amnesty" is SO strong that step 6 should be so top secret that the pres couldn't talk to himself about it!

rlaWTX said...

And your list of "gets and gives" would have to be HUGELY publicized...

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It would help a lot if the GOP stopped listening to the MSM. Every time they do, they get in trouble -- yet they just can't stop. That's why they are the Lucy and the Football party, because they will keep trying to please the MSM and the Democrats time and again.

On Mexico, I would think most of this could be done under the radar, at least at first (especially the criminal and military stuff, the trade preferences and any of the sticks you need to use).

But you are correct that when the time comes to tell the public what we are doing, it would be best to use an approach like you are stating by pointing out how important Mexico is to us and that they are a friend and ally and we are in a unique position to help them, etc.

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, a drawdown would be a good way to accompany it because that way people tend to think that it all balances out. That is a comforting feeling for voters, i.e. that you aren't doing something new so much as shifting what you are already doing.

LawHawkRFD said...

Oh, and I forgot something. A completely revised citizenship path, emphasizing assimilation, adoption of American values, and elimination of bilingual everything. Past mass immigration has survived this, and it's hardly draconian. If immigrants want to retain their culture personally as well as their language, that's part of the great quilt of American diversity. My family ate a lot of wurst, and German was spoken rather regularly within the home. Without the German immigrants, we'd all be French wine-drinkers (ugh!). But publicly, certain things must be demanded of them. Divided loyalties and a cacophony of foreign languages in the public forum are simply unacceptable in a coherent society.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree. I think deporting gang members is an important part of this. In fact, anyone who has been convicted of a serious crime (which should include gang membership) should be ineligible for the amnesty. I think that's good for society, and I think that will help the public accept the amnesty more because it takes away the idea that we are letting in thugs and criminals. AND it provides an incentive for the illegals who are here to stay on the straight and narrow until they get processed, which could be up to ten years. So it should help weed out the bad eggs.

In terms of modification, absolutely. Any plan needs to be constantly re-evaluated and then tweaked as we learn what is or what isn't working. The key here would be maintaining the principles.

On reducing legal immigration, I think it's necessary to win the public over.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I absolutely favor border control, I just think it's a red herring in terms of solving this problem. It is certainly part of it, but that alone will ultimately prove meaningless under the current circumstances. It's the old "closing the barn door" thing, plus they aren't just coming through the door.

Yeah, the idea of the amnesty will need to be held very quietly until the second term begins or it would probably end any chance of a second term. And before it gets announced, I think a President Romney would need to sit down with the talking heads left and right and explain to them what is going on and hope they see the wisdom in it. And yes, the winners/losers explanation will need to be spread far and wide so people realize that they are getting more than they are giving and that no one else is getting more than they are. That is the only way to win the public.

On Mexico, the reason to fix Mexico is twofold. First, that may go a long way toward reducing the number of illegals by drawing them home. My plan already reduces the number of legals as an offset, but if the president could announce another 1-2 million illegals have left because eVerify or because Mexico is calling to them, then so much the better. Secondly, a prosperous Mexico would mean the flood of people coming here would slow to a trickle, which will make future enforcement easier. So we could do the plan without fixing Mexico, but fixing Mexico could help.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree entirely. I like the idea of language lessons, civics classes, and other similar efforts to assimilate those seeking citizenship. There is simply no reason that someone looking to come live in the US should be opposed to learning our language and our culture. Moreover, as I understand it, immigrants are actually the people most opposed to bilingual education.

That is a fair requirement for getting to stay here.

rlaWTX said...

the border control thing would come under the "feels good" part of the plan - regardless of size of effectiveness, more resources attempting border security would show serious intent to those living with the ravages of crossing violence. "Besides, how long has it been since it was tried - REALLY tried?" is the argument for it too.

I think fixing Mexico is a huge idea - and would be an awesome accomplishment. But, I am just rather pessimistic about the likelihood of long-term change. But, if we aren't giving money to NKorea, Palestinians, Venezuela, ad nauseum ad infinitum, we'd have money and resources to do something down Mexico way...

rlaWTX said...

[and the next GOP candidate had better be a humdinger if he/she is gonna get reelected after a 2nd Romney term like this one! ;) ]

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I agree, the border idea falls into the "feels good" part of the plan and will make it easier for people to swallow the rest, even if it is just a placebo.

The thing about Mexico is that like Brazil it should be a booming place -- it has cheap labor, tons of oil and gas, and fertile lands. It is only Mexico's corrupt political culture which keeps it down. If we could get Mexico to deregulate and free up their economy and start following rule of law, they would boom and that would have huge consequences for our relations and the issue of immigration.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, On getting elected, I think the timing is key here. That's why this needs to be done in steps with the amnesty coming as closely as possible after the re-election to a second term. That way the public has four years to see that the world didn't end because of it. That's also why I think legal immigration needs to be cut so there are concrete numbers which can be pointed to as proof that the public got something solid out of the plan.

Again, it may not fair to equate legal and illegal immigrants, but I think it will work with the public.

It would also help that I suspect many Democrats will support this plan, so that will weaken their ability to run against it.

ellenB said...

Excellent article Andrew. I have nothing to add except that I would agree with this plan. I think it is a fair plan and would work.

ellenB said...

rlaWTX, I love that term - humdinger! :D

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ellen! I think it's as fair as you're going to get and it should work. The question is, is it doable? That I don't know.

I like that word too! :)

Individualist said...

Andrew

I don't think one needs to require eVerify at all. I think it is much simpler than that.

We already have sanctuary cities and issues trying to round up illegals. We simply apply these protections to the work place.

We make it a rule that one canot arrest or inquire of the legal status of anyone at work nor can any work records be used for immigration so long as those employees are willing to allow payroll tax deductions be taken from their checks.

By taking the fear of beig on the payroll officially from the illegal worker we can then reeiterate that law apply their protections to them as well including minimum wage laws. I beleive that if someone is paid less than minimum wage the employer can be sued for treble damages but I am not sure if I am right.

By doing this the number of employers willing to hire illegals over citizens reduces. The illegal espcially if e does not speak english well is at a disadvantage in the workplace instead of having the advantage of being cheap labor.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's an interesting idea and I'll have to think about it. The problem there is that this will keep businesses on the side of bringing in more illegals because they benefit from the cheaper labor while society foots the bill.

Also, this would do nothing to drive out those who are just here for economic reasons.

During the first four year period, we need to chase away as many illegals as possible or the public won't accept the amnesty.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thought provoking post, Andrew, and some good ideas.

"Everyone gets something and everyone loses something. Moreover, what everyone loses is just a little less valuable than what everyone gains. So all parties should be happy."

Except we know that the left will never be happy about anything that puts the GOP in a better light, and they will (through the lib media) try to convince the public that making illegals wait 10 years to vote (which I think is fair) is racist and undemocratic, blah blah.

Not sure how successful they would be, but they'll try.
The left would be in full panic mode because they can't afford to let the GOP garner goodwill among immigrants or the public.

Of course, they'll fight other aspects of the plan as well, such as requiring english and civics classes.
However, if the GOP plays their cards right they can make this backfire on the left if they set their own narrative rather than allowing the MSM and the left (but I repeat myself) do it for them.

The only virtually insurmountable problem, IMO, is Mexico and the increasing power of the drug cartels.

A significant and growing number of Mexican veterans, including Mexican Special Forces, have defected to the cartels for the lucrative money.

Anyone, be they a journalist, cop, politician, etc., who isn't corrupt or who doesn't play ball with the Cartel meets a horrific death.
Almost entire police departments have been getting decimated routinely.

We must tell Mexico that we consider the cartel a national security threat and before we spend another dollar helping Mexico we must get serious about eradicating the cartel with extreme prejudice first and foremost.
Drones, intel, SpecOps.

Even the current corruptocrats in Mexico will likely let us help them in this regard if they are convinced we will carry out the threat to cut them off.

At the same time we must crack down hard on MS-13 and the other gangs. The vast majority of the public will support this.

The Cartels wield the power of death and money and the Mexican military and police have been ineffective to stop them.

Mexicans are also fleeing to the US to escape the Cartel and gang violence and corrupt politicians so it's in our best interest to do this (not to mention the violence the gangs cause over here and they are an extension of the cartel. As well as the cost in lives and treasure the drugs cause).

We could also enlist the help of Columbia which has turned around their culture of corruption, and have done a much better job fighting their Cartel and FARK (thanks to us and a more universal desire to really turn things around there).

And perhaps form a coalition of Central and South American countries that also see the danger of these cartels and gangs (and who see the benefits of real liberty and the destruction of socialism/communism). Perhaps.

We should only deport violent gang members IF the country we deport them to agrees to imprison them for life.
Otherwise, we should keep them segregated in our prisons (and make their mother countries pay for it, one way or another).

I do believe that most Americans would support this if someone good with words and intelligence (Allen West would be a good spokesman) clearly explained the case to do so.
These are terrorists, afterall.

If we don't stop the Cartels we'll see much more illegal immigration and violence in the future.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben!

I think you're right that the political left would be upset about the lost issue and would be concerned that this might make the GOP look good to Hispanics. But I think the center left will jump at the chance to get an amnesty, and I think they won't mind the ten year wait because it will appear to give them plenty of time to be out of office before things blow up... though I think the blow up will be immediate or not at all.

Absolutely the GOP can make this backfire in a big way if they are smart. On the one hand, they can promise these people they can finally come out of the shadows and enjoy the American dream. They can also promise legal Hispanic immigrants that no one will think of them as illegal anymore. They can also promise the public that they will integrate these people so they become just like the rest of us. That's a win-win-win. And it should drive a stake through the heart of the Democratic race-hate machine. But I think the Democrats won't realize that, I think they will see this as new voters and will happily go along.

Fixing Mexico will be difficult. Not only do you have an unpopular elitist kleptocracy running the country, but you have a virtual insurgency with the drug gangs. I think you make a great point about bringing in Columbian advisors. They did wonders cleaning up a much worse situation.

I think this can be fixed, but we will need to be very careful about the publicity and who we befriend down there. And I wonder if the elite aren't an even bigger problem in this than the drug gangs? It's a mess.

But if we can clean it up, I think you would see hundreds of thousand of Mexicans go home in short order.

Koshcat said...

I think the Mexico issue is the biggest problem. Let's be honest. Most of the illegals are refugees from a failed state. What we need to do is give them the tools and desire to go back and change it themselves. It starts with giving good pay and education. We want them to see us as helpers in their struggle. We also need to take the gang and drug violence as a declaration of war. Deport the criminals? Who would want them? Through them in worker camps and if the shot at you shot back to kill.

I have met and worked with many of thesepeopleand many are hard workers. Some of them have improved our country more than some Americans.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, That is essentially correct, they are refugees from a failed state and we should see them that way. That's the reason fixing Mexico could end up being such a benefit on this issue because if Mexico got fixed a large number of these people would go home.

And I agree with you, I've met many of these people and they have worked very hard to improve America. I have a lot of respect for them.

Kit said...

Considering Mexico is electing the PRI back into power.

Fixing Mexico will probably not happen for another 6 years -at least.

If you thought Fox and Calderon* were bad, they were pro-American saints compared to those guys.


*Comparatively speaking, they were not bad. Of course, the standards there are quite low.

Kit said...

I say 6 years because that is how long the Mexican president's single term is.

The PRI is pledging to negotiate a truce with the Cartels. The US, of course, has helped the beleaguered Mexican government little.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That's the real problem in Mexico -- the government (either party) is a corrupt kleptocracy rather than a legitimate government and their goal is to maintain the power structure rather than improve the country. That's why I think the US would need to be rather aggressive in solving this problem.

Tehachapi Tom said...

The Christian Science Monitor had an article in June of 2006 by John Dillan that should fill in any missing history about the deportation of illegal aliens.
The program and its origins are explained well in this article.

see:

www.csmonitor.com/2006/0706/p9s01-coop.html

Kit said...

"That's the real problem in Mexico -- the government (either party) is a corrupt kleptocracy rather than a legitimate government"

And the award for Understatement of the Year goes to . . . Andrew Price!!!

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