Liberal Grace

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Reasonable points in the emotional immigration debate

Since I have failed at getting any lawmakers to give me a reasonable estimate of what "securing the borders" will cost, I thought I'd discuss what suggestions in this debate I find reasonable.

(With every reform there is a caution.)

1) An ID card:
Reasonable: A forgery resistant ID card is reasonable. Right now our social security number serves as our national ID. It was never meant for this purpose and that causes endless problems.
Caution: Powerful privacy safeguards must be built in. Obviously, this is not a big priority for our current administration.

2) More guest worker visas:
Reasonable: Illegal immigrants are clearly meeting a labor demand, so let's allow them to do this legally, like we do in other sectors of the economy like high tech.
Caution: Guest workers visas should be linked to FIRM laws requiring a living wage, retirement and medical benefits. It must not be a way to legally exploit desperate people.

3) Citizenship option for guest workers:

Reasonable: If guest workers make homes in our country, pay taxes and contribute to society, citizenship should be an option for them. These are the kind of immigrants who make American strong.
Caution: I agree with he conservatives on this one: it shouldn't be a simple amnesty.

4) Illegals should go home:
Reasonable: Every country I've ever lived in requires people to leave the country before changing visa status. This is a reasonable measure to make sure student and tourists visas mean something.
Caution: Forced mass deportations of millions of men, women and children would un-American. Instead, just let them go home, on their own, to apply for their guest worker visa at the embassy/consulate there.

5) Paying back taxes:
Reasonable: If someone has dodged taxes, they should pay it just as citizens do.
Caution: We should also credit illegal workers for the taxes they've paid. Fair is fair. Tax payback plans should be in reasonable installment plans.

6) Fairness with other nations:
Reasonable: Guest worker visas should be fairly distributed between all countries, not just Mexico.
Caution: We should recognize that our relationship with Mexico and Latin America is special and give them some special benefit.

7) Severe penalties for employers:
Reasonable: Businesses who hire illegals should be slapped and slapped hard. Hiring illegals is a calculated flaunting of the laws to maximize profits. They are the the main single driving force behind this whole problem.
Caution: The public demands dirt-cheap everything and we should adjust our trade policies so that American business can pay living wages and be competitive.

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