Immigration: A Simple, but Not Easy Proposal

Member Group : Let Freedom Ring, USA

Our immigration system is anything but systematic. Legal immigration takes too long. Illegal immigration is, by definition, uncontrolled and dangerous. So here’s a simple but sweeping policy principle that I propose for your consideration: we should make legal immigration easier, and illegal immigration harder.

There are five broad categories of immigrants. The first is those seeking employment or asylum and a better way of life. Some of them may be helpful to our nation if they match specific labor shortages, but the other four categories of immigrants should be barred to the extent possible: drug traffickers, human traffickers, those who pose a public health risk and those who pose a national security risk, including prior deportees and individuals on the federal terrorism watchlist.

Since the number of people worldwide who want to come to the US far exceeds the number that the US can accept, legal immigration limits should be tailored to benefit our economy. There is a genuine labor shortage in America – ranging from relatively low-skilled laborers, which I’ll call Basic Labor, to highly technical specialties requiring advanced education and experience. Roughly 16% of all jobs in the US can be characterized as Basic Labor – work that requires minimal specialized skills and experience, and for which the required training is measured in hours or days, rather than months or years. Another 15% of American jobs require considerable training, such as many of those in healthcare, hospitality, and transportation, but little or no academic coursework or degrees. Each of those job categories has a labor shortage in the millions.

Taken together with agricultural jobs, the total labor shortage not requiring advanced training, experience or degrees is slightly below 10 million. Unfilled jobs create a drag on our economy. Filling them boosts our economy. It is therefore in our economic interest to admit workers to fill those jobs. They must be identified with some form of traceable electronic identification such as photo ID’s with one or more pieces of biometric data that cannot be easily forged. Those ID’s must be verified for employment of all non-citizens.  Processing can be simplified, expedited, and administered at border entry points. Transportation to employment centers can be provided. A few million more highly skilled workers in fields such as technology and building trades can also help our economy, and we should welcome them as well.

Foreign workers admitted under this program could become eligible for citizenship after at least ten years of arrest-free employment and paying taxes, easily verifiable through pay records, etc. Extended unemployment can be identified and the worker placed on probation or even deported if he or she remains unproductive.

At the southern border in particular, a secure physical infrastructure must be installed along nearly its entire length. Call it a wall or a fence, it must be a barrier to illegal entry, with enough gates to allow the regular, monitored flow of commerce. If a high volume of illegal entry shifts to the northern border, a physical barrier may need to be installed there as well, although a well-administered immigrant ID requirement as a precondition to employment, and an increase in occupational quotas, should dramatically reduce the appeal of illegal immigration.

The border must be staffed with enough agents, assisted by technology, to apprehend the vast majority of illegal entrants, and those apprehended must be subject to immediate deportation.

Democrats will support easing the process by which immigrants can be admitted legally and matched to employment opportunities, along with a ten-year path to citizenship for those who pay thier taxes and stay out of trouble. Republicans will support a robust employment ID requirement that also provides the ability to locate any ID holder. Both will take credit for the economic benefits, and each will claim that they solved a previously intractable national problem without racism or xenophobia. All that is required to bring this plan into reality is leadership. And that’s what neither the current administration nor the current Congress has, so we are likely to remain mired in dysfunction. Could the listeners to American Radio Journal be the catalyst that breaks the stalemate? Write to us at American Radio Journal dot com and click on the Contact tab. Let us know your thoughts, and we may feature them on a future broadcast.