During the year, I tend to be what I call "too busy to think." But during these past few weeks of pseudo-leisure, I've actually had the time to ponder some of the big issues of the day, and Congress' proposed immigration bill came to mind. There's a reason this bill failed--it's a bad bill. Our elected officials can, and should, do better. I think a lot of them were surprised at the opposition to it from nearly every demographic, but that in itself is not surprising; as I've noted before, most people in Congress are woefully out-of-touch with how real people live their lives.
But rather than just complain, I decided to actually come up with a better plan, one which addresses many of the excuses which have been brought up for either passing a bad bill (like this one) or not doing anything at all. Here goes:
1) First and foremost, it has to be about enforcement, not amnesty. We need to deal with the people who are currently breaking our laws, and they need to be expelled from our country before anything else is done. Then we need to shore up the borders so that we're not in the exact same situation in ten or twenty years.
And we certainly shouldn't be rewarding lawbreakers with a chance at citizenship without going to the back of the line and going through the proper channels first. That's a slap in the face to everyone who has been doing things correctly. As the sign at Six Flags says, "Line jumpers will be removed from park." We're not saying you can't come back, but you have to buy your ticket and wait in line like everyone else.
2) The people who say "There's no way we can just expel the 12 million people who are already here" are wrong. Sure we can--one at a time. Nobody says this has to be done tomorrow. A traffic stop here, a domestic disturbance there...if someone's here illegally, out they go. We shouldn't spend a dime more on them. It's Mexico's problem; let them deal with it. By looking the other way when their citizens sneak in here, we're only being enablers, and they'll never solve their many problems that way.
3) But what about their kids who are born here? You're breaking up families by sending the parents home. Not under my plan. I'd put an end to birthright citizenship for kids whose parents are here illegally. I'm sorry, but this little loophole has caused way too many people to game the system, and it's time for that loophole to be closed; we shouldn't be awarding people who aren't supposed to be here in the first place.
4) No more of this "They're only doing jobs that Americans refuse to do" business. I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating: There are plenty of people who can do these jobs--high school and college students, and those of college age who are not in school. Sure, employers might have to raise the wages a bit, which might mean either a little less corporate profit or a couple fewer employees...but I for one would gladly wait a few extra minutes for my chicken sandwich if I knew that it were being made by someone who's not a criminal.
5) Do you really think that Americans could fill all the jobs that would be open if we expelled all the illegals? Let's try. I would also require any able-bodied person who's currently on welfare to take one of these newly-available jobs, which would solve two problems at once (with provisions made for single mothers, etc.). Once we find that every possible able-bodied American has a job, then and only then can we let in workers--legally-from other places to fill in the gaps.
6) But these people are only trying to feed their families! So are bank robbers, sometimes. It doesn't make what they're doing any more right. As Fred Thompson said last week, "This is our house, and we get to decide who gets to come into our house.”
And there's one more thing that would make a big impact: We need to severely stiffen the penalty for those caught smuggling people into the U.S. Life in prison? The death penalty would never pass muster here, but it would certainly send a message.
This is certainly still a rough draft, but I invite comments. Am I forgetting anything? What wouldn't work? And "special interest groups would whine about it" is not a vaild reason for not doing this. We need statesmanship, not politics as usual. Please feel free to leave me some feedback.