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A Reasonable Solution to the Immigration Issue

November 9, 2012

We have illegal immigrants living among us here in Texas. We like them and greatly appreciate their contribution. We want to provide an assimilation process for qualified people, and must somehow face the realities of the situation. But the impasse between conservatives and liberals is preventing a solution. Liberals want to ignore the law—an abhorrent and destructive position. Conservatives insist on a blind allegiance to a system that has proven to be unworkable and failing the needs and compassion of all Texans. My solution will make both sides uncomfortable, but it is a workable solution.

First, illegality must be punished appropriately. Second, where the laws are detrimental, we must change them. And, third, we should make a practical distinction between those who are here only to work, and those who are here to work and to integrate into American society. Here is my plan.

The focus should be on how one obtains a Work Visa. Non U.S. citizens could apply for a Work Visa whether they reside in a foreign country or are already in America illegallyno distinction in the application process. (Realistically, why should the place of residence be an impediment to application?) Aliens residing in the U.S. have no priority over applicants from outside the U.S. However, they can be penalized otherwise.

To receive the Work Visa, one must meet certain basic criteria of literacy and a clean record. Those who apply for the Work Visa as illegal aliens residing in the U.S. and are accepted would pay a tax penalty over several years, probably as an income tax penalty. So they do not get off scott free as in an amnesty program. It would be to their benefit to file the application from outside of the U.S. Further, they would be paying into the system rather than merely sucking benefits from the system. All those who have a Work Visa will also have a long term path to citizenship if they work toward that goal.

This is not amnesty and enforcement would be rigorous. Employers who hire people who do not have the Work Visa are fined. Those workers caught here who have not at least filed the application for the Work Visa can be deported and perhaps become subject to penalties in other ways, including jail time. Those people caught here without having filed an application for the Work Visa are no longer eligible to apply.

Undocumented workers who have filed the paperwork to get into the system would then be documented and trackable to be sure that they are virtuous. To file the application no requirement of literacy is necessary, but to receive the Work Visa they must have a minimum level of English proficiency. If they do not have an adequate education and English skills, they would be required to go to night school at their own expense. (Private institutions might fund this education.) This system therefore moves these people along into our society or discriminates against them if they do not participate in the path to integrate fully.

Other important aspects of the plan:

  • Citizenship is no longer automatically conferred upon children born in the U.S. to non-citizen parents. (This might require a constitutional amendment.)
  • These residents cannot obtain a driver’s license unless they have a Work Visa.
  • Illegal aliens do not qualify for taxpayer funded social services.
  • Hospitals are not required to give care to non-citizens.
  • A fence along the southern U.S. border should be built.
  • Applicants would be accepted only from approved countries that provide us necessary information about the candidates.

Let me give you an example of a man I know. He was brought here by his parents when he was 9 years old. He graduated from high school with good marks. He married an American girl and they have 3 kids. He would like to go into the dental field but because of his undocumented status his tuition would be higher than he can afford. He loves America and would like to become a citizen but he is stuck in no-man’s land. This is the kind of person we want here. But the current system has shut him off.

He has a couple of brothers who have not progressed as my friend has. They really do not want to assimilate into American society. Under my plan, they would either have to get on the path that takes them into the system or be deported to Mexico.

My plan may not satisfy everybody. Details would have to be worked out. But it comes to grip with reality. It honors the law. It is faithful to our founding concepts and our natural instincts of compassion.

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