Illegal Immigration: What To Do?

I think Jim Bennett is on the right track. Most of his commenters are engaging in wishful thinking to think that mass-deportation and sanctions on employers would be effective. I think the fence advocates are a bit wishful, or at least overly optimistic, themselves. If we seal the southern border, and I’ll believe it when I see it, illegals will enter by sea or through Canada. For what some of them are probably paying smugglers now it would be cost-effective to do so.

You also have to add likely enforcement costs into the equation. These include grand abuses of civil liberties, national ID cards (which will be completely ineffective for their ostensible purpose), rampant criminal extortion of employers, etc. How does anyone propose to track down all of those illegals — house-to-house searches? I think deportation is a non-starter. And employer sanctions have failed completely since 1986.

There is also a basic question of fairness. For years the USA has tolerated a high level of illegal immigration and at the same time has made legal immigration extremely difficult. Under the circumstances I can’t much blame a lot of these people for having come here illegally, and I don’t think we should make them bear the entire price of any policy reversal on our part. Sure, legally we could throw them all out, but not only do I think it would be extremely difficult to do so, I think it would reflect badly on us as a country. I think we are probably best off to try and integrate them. (And I think that we should make a systematic effort to track down and expel the gangsters and other criminals, something we don’t do now.)

The elephants in the room are the welfare state and our dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy. Discussants usually assume that we can’t change our welfare-state rules, and that cracking down on illegals, building a fence, etc. are more doable. These may have been reasonable assumptions in the past. But given what I think are likely to be extremely high costs, including political costs, of any real immigration crackdown, welfare-state reforms to cut subsidies to non-citizens start to look more possible. And how well do people expect the INS successfully to perform a greatly expanded role in the future if it can’t do its job effectively now?

My suggestions:

-Current illegals can enroll in some kind of Green Card/Citizenship track. It shouldn’t be a fast track but should make it possible for otherwise-law-abiding illegals to become legal eventually. Maybe make it possible for immigrants who have significant accomplishments (e.g., income, wealth, business ownership) in this country to advance in line.

-Illegals, enrolled in my legitimization program or not, who are convicted of felonies or are gang members get deported and barred (maybe via DNA typing).

-The obvious welfare-state reforms. Most of these would be up to the states. Maybe federal legislation to defund federal revenue-sharing programs to states that continue to subsidize illegals. The Left would block this in the courts, maybe indefinitely but maybe not. Worth a try, and might succeed if a political critical mass exists.

-Greatly (e.g., x 10) expand legal immigration for specific categories of immigrants: education, wealth, English-language proficiency, not being from Saudi Arabia, etc. would all be considered. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be possible for someone from a non-terrorist country who has a clean background, speaks English and has a lot of money to buy an immediate green card.

-Greatly streamline INS procedures for prospective immigrants. I have no idea how to do this but the current system is a disaster.

-I don’t know about a fence. If it works, great, but I am skeptical. The USA isn’t Israel, with relatively short borders and a much higher likelihood that any infiltrators are terrorists. I suppose that a fence is likely to happen, since it may be the political path of least resistance as compared to the alternatives, so we will probably get to learn if it’s a good idea after all.

9 thoughts on “Illegal Immigration: What To Do?”

  1. Another elephant in the room is narcotics prohibition.

    Another major factor, if not quite an elephant, is the difference between the borders of California and Texas (well, and Arizona and New Mexico). In the border states other than California, large cities are much more distant, and the border area is generally quite a bit more remote.

    Good analysis in general — I suspect that like me, you aren’t as concerned with exactly what the process looks like as that there be one, and that it be clearly defined and well-administered.

  2. I believe the best argument was for offering a working for citizenship, and also building a “wall” on the border. The argument being, we can’t throw everyone out, but we have to try something so this does not happen again.

    The thing that keeps flashing in my head are the Mexican flags and those protesters that have te successionist signs… Those signs are *extremely* harmful to their case no matter how small this group is. I pride myself on my ability to not be reactionary, but something in me creates a quick negative reaction to this.

  3. A day without Americans – April 17, 2006!

    In response to the recent mass national rallies fearlessly staged by the illegal alien lobby, The Dustin Inman Society is suggesting that Americans nationwide stay home from work and not spend any money on April 17. 2006 – income tax day.

    The country and its governmnet needs to witness a day without Americans.

    It is not an overstatement to observe that the federal government has abandoned the American people and we teeter on the brink of national suicide.

    The well-funded illegal alien lobby has been successful in galvanizing the millions of illegal aliens in the nation to march in American streets demanding no less than open borders, continued selective law enforcement and amnesty for people who should be in fear of apprehension and deportation.

    It has also galvanized many Americans who are seeing for the first time the true nature and result of our intentionally unsecured borders.


    The message to the U. S. government and the world is that another amnesty for illegals is tantamount to erasing any pretense of a nation of secure borders, rule of law and a common language. Amnesty – by any name – does not stop illegal immigration.

    We have reached the point in our national history at which we as a nation must choose whether to resist …or to wave the white flag of surrender.

    We are suggesting that Americans who do not work in medical, law enforcement or emergency capacities stay home from work on April 17 and that we, as a united people, reply to the government that has refused to protect us by refraining from spending any money. Those who have nothing to fear from violating any law that is not beneficial to them are not the only group with power in these United States.

    We are demanding that the American government offer the same protection in the United States that the Mexican government provides its people.

    This is our country. We dishonor our grandfathers if we do not try to protect the republic that was lovingly passed on to us.

    A national day of public opposition to illegal immigration April 17, 2006 !

  4. Jay: Good point about drug prohibition.

    jGeee: What you said. I think the separatists did themselves a lot of political harm at last weekend’s rallies.

  5. The people pushing this issue are playing a dumb political move. Didn’t anyone learn from the Pat Buchanan debacle in the ’92 GOP convention?

  6. Jonathan, you make alot of good points. I just wanted to caution you on the idea of offering ANY sort of legitimization program to illegals. As word of this makes it way across the border it will result in a rush of new illegals trying to take advantage of it. I believe something similar happened in the 80’s when Reagan granted amnesty.

    Guest and/or legitimization programs aren’t generally a bad idea, but they should be structured so people apply for them in their own country, not here. This doesn’t shut illegals out, but it does mean they need to go back to their home countries (and start obeying immigration laws) in order to take advantage of it.

  7. The US would be a lot better off if it auctioned Green Cards (perhaps Green Cards with a 7 or a 10 year citizenship track). Imagine, all the money of illegal immigrants going to the US Treasury instead of labor smugglers. Clearly, artificial shortage of legal rights to work in the US has created a huge underground industry not different from the drugs business. Yes folks, there is a free market, non-politicized, solution to every problem … particularly when those problems pertain to supply and demand for labor.

    [I don’t expect paleo-conservatives to agree with me on the point above. The Left, meanwhile, is enjoying itself for a different reason: self destruction by Republicans on the issue as the future citizens will most likely vote Democratic because they can clearly see who stands on their side.]

  8. Tyler – where did your “grandfather” immigrate from? Also, have you tried to imagine the day when illegals (those you refuse to make legal, that is) decide to stay home and not work? Hospitals not cleaned, food not delivered to law enforcement, etc.

  9. Also, have you tried to imagine the day when illegals (those you refuse to make legal, that is) decide to stay home and not work? Hospitals not cleaned, food not delivered to law enforcement, etc.

    Who did this work before there were illegals then? And who does those very same jobs in parts of the country where there are few illegals?

    I find it incredible that in 2006 I have photo and scan info on my driver’s license, but nothing but a paper ID w/no photo or biometric information on my social security card. That is a welcome mat for conterfeit SS cards, a system exploited by employers and illegals alike.

    Foreigners legally entering this country today have to submit to fingerprint and retinal scans checked against a database before entering. The system is in place today. Why is this system not used to verify legal status of workers? There can be little doubt that such a system, coupled with punishment of employers who hire illegals, would go a long way toward drying up demand. We wouldn’t have to ’round them up’, as most would have to return home if they couldn’t find jobs

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