Illegal immigration seems to be a problem that can’t be solved. The desires of those on both sides of this issue are so far apart, it may well be unsolvable. I do, however, think this problem has become a lot more complicated than it should be. We have two main issues before us. First: How to prevent illegal entry. Second: How to deal with those already here. The American people will not be inclined to deal with those already here if every effort is not taken to seal the border first. There are many problems that arise from illegal immigration, symptoms so to speak that must be dealt with, but the primary condition that is causing these symptoms is not being dealt with effectively. The act of entering or staying in the United States illegally is an illegal act with no punishment—we just send them home so they can try again later.
Notions have been posited that if employer sanctions were imposed, illegal immigration would stop. Employer sanctions will reduce the hiring of illegal immigrants, but it will not prevent them from entering illegally. If the assumption that punishing employers for hiring illegal immigrants will stop that hiring, then surely if punishments were imposed for entering and staying illegally the same results would occur. Therefore, entering and staying in the United States illegally should be treated as a felony, a felony with a graduated system of punishments that give those violators every opportunity to cease and desist. At first blush this may seem excessive, but this must be done in order to provide a serious disincentive to those who wish to enter and stay illegally. Those who wish to do so will then have to weigh the consequences of their actions. After all, it is the free-will decision that each individual makes that will result in criminal sanctions, so let’s hold off on the pity party.
In order to deal with those who are already here illegally. I think we have to acknowledge that we as American citizens bear some responsibility for this problem. We, the American citizens stood by and made no real efforts to resolve this issue previous to 9/11. Those who entered illegally did so with our implicit approval, and so those who have been in the United States for a long period of time or are in circumstances that set them head and shoulders above those who have been here for only a brief time should be treated more favorably. For instance, I see no justice in deporting a family who has been here for years with established lives and children in our schools for years, which brings up one point that must be addressed. According to the United States Constitution, the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States are in fact citizens of the United States. The illegal immigrant parents of children born in the United States can be deported, but the children cannot. If the parents are ordered deported, they have a choice to make. They can take their children back home with them or leave them in the United States with guardians of their choice after which the parents may legally apply for entry into the United States. These suggestions only address the immigration aspect of this issue. Any laws concerning issues other than the specific act of illegal immigration should be dealt with in separate legislation.
1. Create new federal law making entering or staying illegally in the United States a felony.
2. Create new federal law dictating that all who are currently in the United States illegally and feel their situation is unique enough to remain in the United States must register with a designated federal agency within 6 months of enactment of law, no exceptions. After registering, their situations will be reviewed to determine if they should be allowed to enter the naturalization process while remaining in the United States. The circumstances of the each illegal immigrant when the law becomes effective will be the determining factors, not their circumstances at the time of registration or later hearings. This will prevent illegal immigrants from padding their resume, so to speak. There will be no financial penalties for those who are allowed to enter the naturalization process, for such penalties will only serve to keep them underground. Those who have registered and are not allowed into the naturalization process will be deported and then be subject to the First Offense penalty below. Those here illegally may choose to self-deport and then immediately apply for re-entry. Those, no matter how exceptional their circumstances may be, who do not register during the six month period and stay in the United States illegally will be subject to the penalties in the penalties section starting with the second offense penalty.
3. Create photo social security card that must be updated with a new photo every five years. Since it would be silly to put the photo of an infant on a social security card, the photo will not be added until individual starts working. Employer will verify social security number with the Social Security Administration before employee can start work. Employers who hire illegal immigrants will face fines only, no jail time, for fines should be sufficient to dissuade the hiring of illegal immigrants.
4. Create a series of review panels to weed through the applications of those who are already here and are requesting to enter the naturalization process. Those who self-deport and then apply to enter will go through the normal process.
PENALTIES FOR ENTERING AND STAYING ILLEGALLY
These penalties would be for entering and staying illegally, and any additional crimes would be punishable according to law and would be additional to punishment for entering and staying illegally. The punishment for entering of staying illegally would run consecutively with punishments for any other crimes that may be committed. Offenders must be subjected to penalties in order starting with the First Offense penalty.
1. First offense: Deportation and mandatory lifetime probation against further entering or staying illegally. Offender may start the application process no earlier than one year from deportation date to enter legally.
2. Second offense: A mandatory six month prison sentence with no parole and then deported. Offender may start the application process no earlier than two years from deportation date to enter legally.
3. Third offense: A mandatory two year prison sentence with no parole—must serve one full year then deported. Forever banned from entering United States.
4. Fourth and additional offenses: A mandatory five year prison sentence with no parole—must serve five full years then deported.
The problem with the way we are trying to handle illegal immigration currently is that there is no real disincentive for those wishing to enter and stay illegally. The current system provides a slap on the wrist, send them home, and then say we’ll see you later. The penalties proposed above will not only provide a serious disincentive, but will provide every opportunity to avoid serious punishment along with providing the continued opportunity to enter and stay legally. I think we Americans must acknowledge that we helped create this problem, and should be willing to cut those illegal immigrants in exceptional circumstances a little slack. The most important thing that must be done is the physical closing of the border doors, otherwise the American people will never support any immigration plan. I think the most difficult part of this process will be the review process, establishing standards and then enforcing them as fairly as possible. I don’t believe prison space will be as much of an issue as first blush may suggest, because I believe making entering and stay illegally a felony will drastically reduce illegal immigration, but we won’t really know until it is put into effect. Inexpensive, temporary and effective prison space can be built in the rural areas of the Border States. These prisons should only be for non-violent offenders.