Will the Walls Come Tumbling Down?
By Patrick F. Cannon
Whether or not President Trump gets his wall on the southern border doesn’t seem particularly important in the grand scheme of things, except perhaps as a waste of public funds.
What’s really needed are changes in our current immigration laws. I don’t wish to get too involved in the numbers game, but here are some basics. Although there is no way of actually knowing, most experts would accept that we now have approximately 12 million illegal immigrants. The current legal population of the United States is around 328 million; thus, fewer than four percent of the country’s 340 million residents are illegal.
The majority, 70-percent or so, are from Mexico and Central America. Fully two-thirds of all illegals have lived in the country for 10 years or more. As you might imagine, they go where the work is. If you live in a city like Chicago, they are cooking and serving your food, maintaining your lawns and gardens and putting a new roof on your house, among many other tough jobs. They are of course breaking the law, as are the employers who employ them, although some do have very convincing forged green cards and other documents.
What to do? Well, we could round them all up and send them back whence they came. All 12 million; except, of course, for any of their children who were born in this country. As citizens, they could stay if they didn’t mind being separated from their families. Free will, sort of. With the Federal government’s estimable reputation for efficiency, the deportation process shouldn’t take more than 100 years or so. Perhaps they could go to the US Army archives from the 19th Century to see how they rounded up the Native American tribes and deposited them in their less than happy hunting grounds. Perhaps the 7th Cavalry could be resurrected. And when they’re all gone, all those folks who said they were taking the jobs of real Americans could encourage their children to take up careers as landscape workers, roofers, line cooks and bus boys.
Or we could change the current immigration laws, which have been enforced or ignored at the whim of recent presidents. We once came close to doing so, then Donald Trump’s election stopped Democrats and Republicans from thinking rationally or even talking to each other. Here’s what I think might be done:
- Give Trump his goofy wall, if he’ll agree to reforms.
- Ban the euphemism “undocumented.”
- Grant permanent residence to illegal immigrants who have never been convicted of any crime, and who pay a fee equivalent to the cost of processing their applications. Apply an additional, but reasonable, fine for every year the applicant did not file an income tax return. Exempt children under age 18 from fees and fines.
- All applicants to be enrolled in the Social Security system. Employers to be required to obey all relevant wage and hour laws, including minimum wages. Those who continue to employ illegals to be subject to mandatory fines and prison sentences.
- Assuming a clean record, all now-legal immigrants be permitted to apply for citizenship after 7 years.
- Increase the number of guest-worker permits for seasonal workers who do not wish to become permanent residents. Adjust these number to suit actual – mostly agricultural — requirements.
- Strengthen border security to minimize additional illegal crossings.
- After a reasonable grace period, deport illegals who do not apply for residence.
- Require those seeking political asylum to apply only at designated points.
A certain percentage of Americans will always oppose reforms like these, because they continue to think this country was founded for white people. Unfortunately, you can’t legislate away bigotry. And apparently you can’t legislate common sense for those who think we should eliminate the Border Patrol and simply let everyone in and even let them vote (on the assumption that they would of course vote Democrat).
Using that logic, we would then presumably stop checking passports and related documents at other border crossings, like airports for example. So what if the odd terrorist makes it through! We’ll probably have a net population increase anyway.
Is this kind of reform fair to those who have waited their turn to enter legally? Or who have little or no hope of even getting on a list? Of course not. But can you really argue for the status quo?
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon