Wednesday, March 29, 2006

An "immigration" plan from a regular guy

I want to start with some terms and why I use them and not others. I believe words have power and meaning and we should choose accurate ones. Illegal immigrant is a misnomer as is undocumented worker. Immigrants are people who change their national identity and plan to change their citizenship. So the people we are talking about aren't immigrants because they still are, and will remain to be under current law, foreign citizens and not Americans. says "A person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another." While some of these people plan to stay here, that is not true of all of them and would likely be true of few of them if their home countries would get a clue about running an economy. I also don't like undocumented worker because the problem is not that they are undocumented but that they don't have permission to be here. I am left with illegal alien as the most accurate term. It is not meant as derogatory in any way. There are both legal aliens and illegal aliens in this country today and what I am looking for is a way to eliminate the tolerance for illegal aliens by a process of making them legal aliens.

Next, lets talk about why they are here. Only the loonies seem to question that the vast majority of illegal aliens are here because they can get a job and support their family. I begin with that premise. There is some disagreement about the claim that they fill "jobs that Americans are unwilling to do." That disagreement mostly revolves around construction work and not farm work. I don't think people question that it is impossible to find US born citizens willing to work in the hot fields for small wages (which is all that farmers can pay unless you want to start forking over a lot more money in the produce aisle). I know very little about the construction business so their may be a point there but I am going to start with the premise that, in general, the claim that illegal aliens take jobs American's won't do is true. As you will see in my plan, it is self correcting for this problem so even if it isn't true for some jobs, no problem.

The goal: I claim the goal is to keep the US economy going while simultaneously getting a handle on the drugs, gangs, white slavery, possible terrorist activity, and other dangerous things that cross the border with these folks just looking for a job. Further, I claim we should have a goal that Americans get first crack at American jobs so we don't just keep importing Mexicans while the guy down the street can't find a job. At present this is not a problem generally but it may be the case in some communities.

Lastly, before we get to the details, what do we mean by amnesty? While being here illegally is, well, illegal, it is a misdemeanor punishable by deportation. It is not a felony punishable by jail time. So what does the President (and all the other politicians) mean when they say "no amnesty". Do they mean anybody here illegally has to be deported? In fact, some do, and they want any plan for a guest worker program to force them to go back to their home country to apply. While an interesting idea from a moral perspective, this seems completely unworkable to me. Most people using the "no amnesty" line, however, mean that there should be some punishment, like a fine, or no possibility that those who were here illegally could become citizens, or both. I find this as an arguing point kind of silly. We are talking about a misdemeanor. I don't think the illegal in jail for shooting somebody or robbing someone's home ought to ever be allowed to become a citizen, but the poor guy who wants a job and a home and a decent school for his kids? Let's get serious. If you want a fee for employers to use the system defined below or a small fee to potential guest workers, fine. If we haven't been serious enough to make it a felony to cross our border illegally, how can we expect anybody to take it seriously? You want a big punishment for a guy who did something the legal equivalent of speeding or jay walking? I don't. It is silly. Make it a felony and then we'll talk.


1. Lock down the border. I do not care how. Seriously. Build a wall or a fence, use drones or put snipers every half mile and shoot people trying to get in illegally. I don't care how we do it but we must do this first and foremost.

2. Set up centers (here initially, then move them to Mexico or wherever after the initial period) where non-US citizens can go to get "cleared" as not a security or crime threat. This will take a fair bit of man power and compute power but it should be doable. When someone comes in and gives all their information, they get a picture ID with thumb print from the US government that says they have "registered". Once cleared (assuming this isn't instant which I will assume), the "registered" worker will be notified that he can come pick up his "cleared" ID. The "cleared, guest worker" card will be valid for 5 years. At the time of registration, a SSN will be assigned. Failing to pay taxes will now be a felony, punishable by jail time AND permanent deportation.

3. Set up a computer system that will do several things:
  • allow employers to post job listings they believe Americans won't do
  • allow Americans to apply for those jobs for 6 weeks
  • allow "registered", and later only "cleared" workers to apply after that
  • allow/force employers to double check the picture, SSN, etc of applicants (fraud control)
  • allow/force employers to identify that they hired the guy and will deal with taxes
4. Pick a time frame, I will say a year but that may be too quick for the government to process 8-12 million people even for "registered". From here forward if we catch you here without having registered, you go home immediately and are persona non-grata, never to be allowed into the program or to get so much as a tourist visa. After some time, I will say 2 years but, again, can the government manage that, maybe longer, you must be a "cleared" person to apply for work here.

5. Bond some US citizens who will be allowed to transport individuals from Mexico, or wherever, who have gotten a job through the process in #3, bring them through customs, get them to their employer and ensure that the "I hired him" processing gets done. Once the rate of registration here begins to fall off we can move the registration offices to Mexico or wherever else it makes sense. The Bonded citizens will be paid by the employer (let the free market decide how much).

6. Require the employer to pay half again or double the amount of the payroll (not income) taxes of these workers. The employee pays at the same rate as a citizen. The government gets a little more money (to cover the cost of running this program) but this is a nice disincentive to hiring a foreigner when a US worker will do the job for slightly more money.

7. Make it a felony punishable by a big fine and jail time to defraud this system. Also, make it a felony to hire someone without verification of his right to work here (double check that picture on the Internet and the thumb print, etc), again punishable with jail and fines. The government has done everything but train these people for you, you can and will be bothered to stop hiring illegal aliens. You will now hire either Americans, green carded or otherwise legal folks, or guest workers. You will be responsible to check the status of your guest workers AT LEAST every 12 months and stop paying them if you learn that their status has been revoked. You will cooperate with law enforcement if the show up and ask for phone numbers, addresses, etc of any guest worker in your employ. You will stop paying him immediately if informed by the government that his status has been revoked.

8. If you fire (or he quits or doesn't show up, gets a better job through the system, etc) you must UNREGISTER your employment of the guest worker in 7 days. The worker then has 6 weeks to find himself a new job and get registered as an employee of that employer or his status is invalid and he must go home. Once the system has been in place for one year, these people will get access to the job listings one week ahead of cleared workers outside our borders. Again, we can argue about 6 weeks or 8, etc. Since the employer is paying unemployment on their behalf, they are entitled to those benefits so long as they remain in good status. An additional fee to a bonded agent will not be required if they find a job within the 6 weeks. This should stabalize the population in play and avoid a revolving door at the border.

9. Make it illegal to refuse a driver's license or an apartment to someone who is cleared on the basis of his nationality. These people will now be like folks with green cards for all normal day to day activities. Further, states will be required to put an obvious designation on the drivers licenses and ID cards of any non-US citizen. This will apply to the guest workers as well as people with green cards, work visas, or extended tourists. A state may choose to put the citizenship of all drivers on their license or to place a designation such as "guest worker" or "non-citizen" in a prominent place on the license of non-citizens only. A state may make licenses for citizens a different color or other designation (such as landscape vs. portrait) to make it faster for law enforcement to verify citizens. Renting an apartment will require picture ID and knowingly renting to an illegal will be a felony.

10. Commission of any felony will result in automatic revocation of your status, deportation, etc. Commission of any property crime (petty theft, etc) MAY result in said revocation, subject to the discretion of the local prosecutor and a state judge. There will be NO appeals of the revocation, although normal appeals of conviction will still be available to guest workers. So you can appeal your conviction but if you fail there, hasta la bye bye. It is a privilege for you to work here, not a right. Further, law enforcement upon stopping anyone designated by their ID as a non-citizen for any reason, will check their status if that is reasonable. For example, they will check it on a traffic stop. They may choose not to in any situation where they are otherwise distracted like crowd or traffic control. If you status is invalid, you will be detained immediately, processed quickly and deported.

11. This is my favorite part :-) Once you have been have been working consistently here for 10 years, paying your taxes and following our laws you can put your name in the "POOL". Every year we take the top tax payers in the pool (say 100K of them) and announce to them they have won the right to apply for citizenship. You need to go through the classes, etc, keep your job and your nose clean for the next 5 years and you are a citizen with all the rights and privileges of, say, me (except you can't run for President, not that I would, distinction without a difference here). Welcome. We may choose to allow folks in this position to apply for work outside the system but I am totally open to debate on that. This rewards people who not only work here and keep their noses clean but who also manage to succeed. These are the people who will open small businesses and expand our economy further.

12. Children born from today forward to illegal aliens or guest workers or green cards, etc, are NOT automatic citizens. You can come here and work legally. You can have a child here and stay. Your child is not a citizen of this country. Your child has guest status as long as you do (or until they are out of school). This loophole is stupid and should have been closed a century ago.

13. Trying to come here illegally is now a felony punishable by permanent deportation to your home country's prison system for the next 5 years. Your country must agree to imprison violators in order for you to be allowed to apply to the system. This puts a nice incentive in place for Vicente Fox, don't you think? Deal with an uprising of workers who want US jobs or stop letting his military help people breaking our laws. Obviously, there will still be processes to apply for asylum, etc. If Mexico doesn't want to agree to this I am sure there a few countries to their south who will and probably some African and Asian economies that would like some of those US dollars being sent home.

14. There is no limit on the number of times you may renew your guest worker status but you cannot retire here unless you win the pool. We may want an exception for people whose children have qualified and can support them. You can keep renewing so long as:
  • you maintain a job of at least 45 weeks a year and 20 hours a week
  • you pay your taxes
  • you stay out of legal trouble
15. Your children may apply to this system from within the US upon their 17th birthday. They may not take a job until they turn 18 but they can get the process started at 17 so they can begin work once they are 18 and have graduated high school. A high school degree is not required to apply from outside the country or during the initial period but it will be required for legal aliens who have grown up here. Stay in school boys and girls!

Look folks, our economy is expanding and our native population is shrinking. We either gotta start having more babies or accept that an expanding economy requires an expanded work force that has to come from somewhere else. The Mexicans share many of our values, are close by, and have an economy that has been in ever increasingly miserable shape since before I was born. We SHOULD give their best and brightest a shot to join us in prosperity. Right after we get that wall built, that is.


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