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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tentative Statement of Thought 


Over the past few months my brain has been toying with some thoughts on how to solve the illegal immigration problem. I just put some thoughts down in response to a post by DJ Drummond (the person who brought Major General Bennett C. Landreneau to my attention). Before I share my thoughts, I'll quote from Drummond. (For more, including his thoughts on the amnesty granted to Jean Lafitte, read his complete post.)


To my mind, the issue has four fronts, which must all be addressed. There is no reasonable argument against building a barrier to border crossings, call it a wall, fence, or whatever....

The second front is to enforce the laws already on the books....

The third front is to arrange agreements with Mexico and other nations to stop encouraging or [e]nabling illegal entry....

The fourth front is to decide what to do with the twelve-to-twenty million illegal aliens already here in the United States....

The answer to me seems to be a graduated amnesty program. First, let me be very clear that an amnesty is unacceptable if it includes automatic citizenship, or which treats the illegal in a manner superior to the persons who obey the law. To some degree, this would mean improving the opportunity for legal immigrants, but also by clearly naming the limit for an amnesty.

If citizenship is not on the table then, what good is the amnesty? Plenty, actually. It seems to me that now would be a good time for Congress to consider that a resident does not, and should not, enjoy anything like the status of the citizen. A higher income tax rate for residents, no voting privilege of course, automatically stiffer penalties for any criminal conviction on American soil, and additional fees for the use of educational or medical facilities, would create a significant and reasonable advantage for someone to pursue citizenship, which should be strictly enforced on a code advancing American national interests. The resident would still enjoy advantages over the non-resident, such as a right to work and the government should create a sort of Social Security/Medicare program, where the resident could pay a tax just as citizens do (albeit at a higher rate), and have a system for his own return down the road if he stays permanently, and again there is a strong incentive to become a full citizen....

Sharpen the definitions of ‘citizen’ and ‘resident’, make clear that we welcome all sorts of legal immigrants but must protect our borders and enforce our laws, and offer the chance to start over for people who leave politely and immediately. And make very, very clear that anyone who remains here against the law after than point may expect a stronger and more determined, coordinated response at all levels.



I responded as follows:


I believe that ANY benefits conferred for residency, even if they do not involve citizenship, would continue to entice people to cross the border. I'm still mulling in my head what the best solution would be, but these two thoughts are running through my mind:

1. There's no way that we can arrest and deport 12 million people, but there's no way we can process 12 million guest workers either. So the way to get illegals to leave is to have them leave on their own. Stepping up interior enforcement is one way to do this. As a first step, Bush should build up his enforcement capabilities to the level that Clinton was enforcing the law. Once he reaches that level, perhaps he could double it. With increased enforcement, many illegals will leave of their own accord.

2. Secondly, if illegals never leave their country in the first place, then we don't have a problem. I'm not talking about a wall (although I support that notion) - I'm talking about basic economics. In California, there are people that complain that our minimum wage (higher than the national minimum wage) is not a "living wage." How would those people feel if they knew that Mexico's minimum wage is less than six dollars...a day? You'd think that this grave injustice would anger people, but apparently it hasn't. If the U.S. stopped doing business with Mexico until their minimum wage was raised to a "living" level, perhaps that would help to reduce the flow of people up north. Yes, the economic experts believe that such a move would be catastrophic, but if people truly believe in free international markets, then you shouldn't have wildly divergent wages just a few feet away from each other. Either the U.S. will reduce its minimum wage to five dollars a day, or Mexico will raise theirs. One way or another, it will eventually happen.



P.S. I documented some of the debate about raising the Mexican minimum wage here.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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