Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Immigration Policy

Immigration was a recent topic of a conversation I was involved in. So, I thought I'd post my immigration policy here.
  1. I'd have a guest worker program that allowed people from outside the US to work inside the US without too much hassle. I'd make reasonable requirements for participation. For example, maybe the guest worker would have to have a job lined up in the US before he could enter. As part of the program, I'd have protection for the workers from abuse at the hands of employers. Also, participants in the program would pay some amount of taxes on their earnings.
  2. For a short time, maybe a year, I'd have an amnesty program which allowed illegals already in the US to either enter the guest worker program or get returned to their countries without criminal penalty.
  3. After the amnesty program is over, I'd have laws and programs designed to catch illegals in the country without resorting to racial profiling. For example, proof of identity would be required for things like working, renting or buying property, getting health care, going to school, getting a driver's license, buying a car, etc.
  4. There would be stiff penalties for employers that knowingly hired illegals.
  5. There would be objective standards for who can become a citizen of the US. In general, we'd only let people who would make the US a better place become a citizen. So, we would reject criminals, people without good skills/abilities, people who can't speak English well enough, etc. We don't owe the people of the world US citizenship. The US should act in its best interest when deciding who to allow to become citizens.
  6. I'd probably make long participation in the guest worker program without criminal activity/problems something that makes obtaining citizenship easier. Maybe each year in the guest worker program adds support to a person's citizenship request.
  7. The 14th Amendment essentially makes any child born the US a citizen. I'd change the amendment to make the mother or father legally being in the country a requirement for the newborn to become a citizen.
I think the above ideas/policies are a good start. However, I'm sure there would be other things that would need to be done. I just can't think of any of these things right now.

EDIT: I advocate the above policy as long as the US remains as it is politically. We give away too much "free stuff". If we had an open border policy in the current context, it would ruin us. If we fix the government in the US (a huge, fat if), I'd advocate an essentially open border policy.


Manganeez said...

I find your proposals to be pretty reasonable (acknowledging, of course, that there are a lot of details that would need to be worked on). One thing I would consider tweaking off the bat is your adjustment to the 14th Amendment: I think it would be reasonable for automatic citizenship to be granted only if the father or mother had been in the US legally for at least, say, two years, so as to prevent rushed guest worker applications due to pregnancy. Maybe also something about the option of permanent residence being restricted to the child's parents and siblings in such cases (Grandma/Abuelita/Babushka/Ouma/Zǔmǔ/Nonna can come visit, of course, she just doesn't automatically get to live here permanently).

Incidentally, for anyone that thinks an adjustment to the 14th Amendment is sacrilege because it's in contradiction to the intent of the forefathers, bear in mind a few things:

1. It wasn't written by the forefathers, it was written about a century later (ratified in 1868) by plain old, non-diety politicians.

2. Even at that, as Greg has pointed out (not here), it's not at all clear that the letter of the amendment as applied to modern circumstances is really what was intended because the concept of an "illegal immigrant" had not been foreseen when it was written.

3. In fact, ancillary writings of some of those politicians make it clear that they considered some exceptions obvious. As an example, read Senator Jacob Howard's statements saying exactly that (you'll have to scroll down a bit) - he's hardly a racist bigot: along with Abraham Lincoln, he's the "other guy" who wrote the *13th* Amendment (that's the one abolishing slavery).

4. Until recently, most of the legal precedent for interpretation of 14 went the other way: being born here did not give automatic citizenship - e.g. Native Americans, having been born here for generations upon generations both before and since the creation of the country, were not granted US citizenship until 1924. In that case, granted, that it took so long is another in a series of travesties, but the point is that 14 didn't make it automatic.

Hoghopper said...

Clearly, you have devoted serious thought to the issue and stated a rational policy.

However, why tie a guest worker program with citizenship? I don't see the two as being mutually dependent. Guest workers and citizens receive and confer reciprocal, contemporaneous benefits. But when one or the other can no longer deliver the benefit, it makes more sense to end the relationship. The existing paths to citizenship are sufficient.

I suspect we may see groundswell for a constitutional amendment regarding US births in our lifetimes.

Greg said...

@Manganeez -- I'd be ok with not making people in the guest worker program eligible for having their newborns automatically citizens. I think you are right there might be abuse there otherwise.

Greg said...

@Hoghopper -- I would think maybe a points based system for who could become citizens might be good. Speak good English and you get 10 points. In the guest worker program for 4 years, get 5 points a year. So, being a good guest worker would help you become a citizen eventually but it would be no guarantee. Other things would be required. What do you think about that?

Hoghopper said...

Hi Greg: I suppose that if citizenship and a guest worker program were to be linked, then your points system makes sense. However, my point was that the US doesn't need to incentivise non-citizens to become guest workers -- they're breaking the law to do it as it stands now. Why not send them home when they're done? It's not in the US's interest to confer the rights and privileges of citizenship (read "costs" -- e.g. Social Security, Medicare, etc.) where it's not necessary to do so. Although that may seem harsh, it's really not: US government and laws should benefit US citizens first and foremost. If the rest of the world benefits incidentally then all the better, but the US need not legislate for the good of the world's peoples.

* I agree with your and Manganeez's sentiments regarding US births by non-citizens.