Let's discuss immigration.
Here are the issues in a nutshell:
1) What do we do with approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.
2) What policies to we implement to keep this level of illegal immigration from happening in the future.
As far as issue #1, it is clear that a policy of trying to deport 11 million people is doomed not only by politics, but also by sheer logistics of implementation, not to mention the disruption to both the U.S. economy and the economies of any countries recieving a large number of deportees. So we really have no choice but to develop some sort of amnesty program (or whatever you want to call it), to allow these people to become legal residents. If we're gonna let them stay, we should bring them fully into the fold.
To be fair, I don't think there's that much debate about this point. Its merely a question of how we implement such an amnesty program. I'm a big fan of the "pay back taxes plus a penalty" version. As far as the suggestion that people could only apply to the program by first returning to their country of origin: You're gonna make 11 million poor people, with no documentation, figure out how to get back to their home country before applying to come back to the U.S.? I've never laughed so hard in my whole life.
Its issue #2 that I think is where the real debate lies. How do we keep this from happening again?
Let's take a quick side trip, though. There's one point people keep making in this debate that I think is total bullshit.
"...As we debate the immigration issue, we must remember there are hard-working individuals, doing jobs that Americans will not do, who are contributing to the economic vitality of our country."Even Michelle Malkin, often ideologically aligned with President Bush on other issues, thinks this concept is bull-puckey. Immigrants do jobs at wages Americans will not accept. That is very different than doing jobs Americans will not do. She links to Robert Samuelson's extremely well informed response to this point in his Washington Post editorial.
So as Samuelson puts it, immigrant labor is essentially "importing poverty". It drives down wages for jobs Americans would like to do, like various construction trades, if only the pay was a little better.
So what is the Bush Administration's prescription? A guest worker program. They type of program that has been the downfall of European immigration policy. Bring in an underclass of workers who make long-term homes in the country, but are not really permanent residents. As far as I can see, the only issue this solves is that, under this program, Walmart (and other low-wage employers) would be allowed to legally employ this underclass.
How about let's not adopt the European immigration philosophy that encourages segragation of and discrimination against their immigrant populations.
So here's my proposal. I'm certainly not the first to say it, but here goes:
First, implement real border security. We wouldn't have 11 million illegal immigrants today if we had non-ludicrous border controls. In today's security environment, we really need to do this anyway.
Second, crack down on employers of illegal immigrants. Ever wonder how 11 million illegal immigrants make enough money to continue to live in the U.S. and attract other illegal immigrants? Because employers illegally hire them at wages below what the prevailing wage would otherwise be. And c'mon, we all know that employers of illegal immigrants generally know they are employing illegals. There are companies whose whole business model is based around it.
Third, increase the legal immigration quotas. Considering the number of illegal immigrants our economy has absorbed, there is clearly room in the system for increased legal immigration.
The overall goal of my policy would be a large decline in illegal immigration and an increase in legal immigration, resulting in a decline in total immigration. Unlike the Bush plan, however, these legal immigrants would receive regular old residency status, instead of this idiotic guest worker status. They would be living the American dream, not the European nightmare.