Immigration Approach by Norm Gottlieb
Immigration is a complex issue. Comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. has not only stalled but appears to be unachievable at this time mainly for political reasons. A better approach might be to break the problem into parts that may have agreeable solutions that are respectful of human rights and economically viable.
The dominant issue regarding immigration is what the government and law enforcement officials are to do with the 11 million of undocumented persons living in the U.S. It is not possible to incarcerate every person who is here illegally, and it is not practicable to deport every undocumented person. In the name of humanity, it is not conscionable to break up families or separate legal children citizens from their parents.
The immigration problem is not only a human rights matter but is also a civil rights issue. Like most Americans who came to this country as immigrants, the currently undocumented are living here, working and raising families but are not able to vote, serve on juries, or have any voice in matters affecting their lives.
The vast majority of the undocumented are honest, law-abiding hard workers who should be given a reasonable, thoughtful, compassionate path to legalization.
Most of the undocumented have been living in the U.S. for many years working mostly in a large, thriving underground economy. Knowingly allowing this underground economy to continue is an economic concern and a breeding ground for corruption. Legalizing the undocumented will prevent exploitation of workers and foster equity and justice. Bringing these workers into the mainstream will increase tax revenues and improve national, state and local economies.
Many of the undocumented (some with false identification) are working for businesses as employees doing needful jobs not sought after by others in the labor market. In order for our economy to function, the U.S. needs a flow of immigrants for farm labor and domestic work.
All of the undocumented have been paying (directly or indirectly) sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes and numerous other taxes and fees. Many have been paying into Social Security for which they will receive no benefit. Many are working at jobs complicit with their employers where they avoid workers compensation and income taxes.
Many of the undocumented have been forced to flee countries under life-threatening, corrupt and unjust circumstances. These are human beings, people just trying to survive without fear. They are desperately in need of a helping hand. For-the-most-part, their struggle to get here and work exemplifies the same character as others before them who built this country. Some of the undocumented are people who are economically depressed, trying to improve the well-being of their families. All of the undocumented should be permitted to come out of the shadows, apply for legalization, and if qualified should be granted legal residency, employment opportunities and civil liberties.
A number of the undocumented don’t want to become citizens because they have allegiance to their birth countries and/or family or social ties. Many of the undocumented have been living and working in the U.S, for years; they should be granted legal status, issued special identity cards, and work permits, allowing them to continue working, get drivers licenses, open bank account, travel freely to home and back. If they have skills sought by businesses, the newly documented should be allowed to compete with others in our capitalist system and be compensated fairly.
A precedent was set by President Reagan when he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granting Green Cards to millions of unauthorized immigrants. In 2004, President Bush proposed an earned legalization program for illegal aliens. Since 1986, all presidents have taken some executive action to ameliorate the problem.
SeniorsCAN urge President Obama and Congress to address and act on this dominant part of the overall immigration problem immediately with bi-partisan discussion and input from informed individuals and groups. Other immigration issues such as border control, guest-worker programs, and visitors overstaying their visas should be addressed at future times.
Immigration Border Control by Norm Gottlieb
SeniorsCAN recognize the need for border control. It is necessary not only to minimize future illegal entrants into the U.S. but also to focus on what appears to be the most contentious issue preventing comprehensive immigration reform.
Past and current efforts to seal the border between Mexico and the U.S. have not been sufficiently effective. In fact, it is practically impossible to keep determined individuals from entering the country. Erecting fences, blocking tunnels, deploying border patrols and taking surveillance measures have offered some deterrence. But entry into the U.S. is relatively open via Canada, the sea and air; coyotes evade and corrupt law enforcement; and many over-stay legitimate entries to continue visitation (VISAs) and working here (guestworker programs).
In spite of the reality that it is virtually impossible to totally “fix” the border control problem, many members of the House of Representatives have taken a firm position blocking any immigration legislation until after border control is achieved. This polarization mainly for political reasons by congresspersons from states with few undocumented workers, has stymied action. Continuing to not resolve immigration reform is giving de facto permanent residency to millions of the undocumented; inaction exacerbates the problem.
SeniorsCAN believe that solving the “border control” problem requires new thinking and multifaceted approaches, and that considering each part of the overall problem separately will facilitate deliberative debate and consensual agreement. Attempts to achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform require too many compromises not agreeable to many legislators.
One possible solution would be to provide national identification cards to every person living in the U.S. White cards could be issued to citizens, green cards to qualified undocumented workers, and tan cards (with bold expiration dates) to guestworkers and visitors.
Producing these I.D. cards would be a massive, expensive undertaking but would solve numerous problems related not only to immigration but also to voting; jury duty; law enforcement; access to education, health care, welfare and social security; etc. The cards could be made tamper proof, possibly by embedding them with finger-print recognition.
Other approaches or regulations would be needed to solve related immigration problems such as: controlling businesses’ hiring persons with no identification or false documents, control of hiring services by homeowners, re-consideration of the law granting birthright citizenship, guest-worker and specialized hiring programs, et. al.