Friday, July 02, 2010

How to Solve Illegal Immigration

There are several parts to a solution here. One is border security, and Obama isn't going to get anywhere on his plans if he doesn't increase security on the border more than he has done so far. If he doesn't show seriousness about enforcement, he won't get bipartisan support in the Senate and his reform bill is going to die by filibuster. But, more than that, it's a good idea. Especially if you reform immigration along the path-to-citizenship lines, you need improved security so that the cycle doesn't repeat itself. This border security has to be primarily aimed at the smugglers, drug traffickers, and gun runners. These criminals are a problem for both countries, so part of the "enforcement" operation has to be focused on a cooperative effort with the Mexican government to shut these people down.

I don't know what enforcement-first means. If it means that we have to commit to enforcement if we want reform, then yes. If it means we have to have a perfectly secure border before we make other changes, then that is putting off reform indefinitely, and that won't do.

Second, a system of workplace enforcement where a person's fingerprint could be indexed to his social security number, so that this could be checked at the workplace, and then coming down on people who employ illegal immigrants could become effective.

Third, I do support a path to citizenship for those already here. In a way that's not fair, but I don't think it's possible or economically feasible to deport them all, and leaving people in their illegal status is a worse solution.

Fourth, I think a more rational legal immigration policy that makes legal immigration somewhat less limited is also important. Particularly where this is simply a matter of ineffiency in the process, that has to be addressed. That doesn't mean it should be unlimited, or that quotas are always wrong.

Fifth, we have to re-examine our trade policies, to make sure that we are not encouraging labor exploitation of foreign countries. In particular, we should not be permitting American companies to be running slave labor operations in Mexico or anywhere else. When we get serious about stopping worldwide slavery, we will also produce a demand-side deterrent for illegal immigration.

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