Immigration reform is an interesting beast. From a conservative perspective, it is potentially poisonous. Marco Rubio’s future was almost thrown in the dark by it. Nevertheless, something needs to be done about it. As it currently stands, there are 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, with thousands more pouring in each day. What is really the central issue in the whole debate, but is not being discussed is what to do with the 12 million+ that are currently here. Everybody agrees that we need better border security and employer verification. Most people, except for a vocal few, believe that we need to make legal immigration more efficient and simpler. Comprehensive immigration reform though, is all about what we do with those who are currently here. Democrats won’t do anything unless we include addressing this issue. Conservatives, meanwhile, are utterly stuck. You see, anything that merely hints at legalization is amnesty, which is big no no. This leaves only two options for conservatives.
1) Deportation. This involves either a self-deportation, or a deportation arranged by the government. They are criminals for coming in illegally, and, thus, would only be rewarded with legalization, encouraging more illegal activity.
2) Status quo. This is exactly where we are, and conservatives are okay with that, because it’s not amnesty, and we can still do option 1. In my own opinion though, this is unfair to those that are here, especially families that are separated, or the children who were brought here through no fault of their own. This is neither loving, nor merciful, which, especially if we are to be a “christian” nation, we should be excelling at.
Deportation is politically impossible, so the only option is to keep the status quo, and argue that immigration needs to be done piecemeal. The other argument against comprehensive being that it is politically toxic from republicans because it will just create more liberal voters.
I would like to offer my own brief solution to this problem, in the form of a comprehensive policy. The goal of this policy is two-fold. First, address to minimize illegal immigration. As long as we are a country that prospers, we will continue to attract illegal immigration. It cannot be eliminated even if we had a border guard at every spot across the border with Mexico. They will always find a way in. So the goal should be realistic, and try to minimize illegal immigration as much as possible.
I believe this can be done through adjusting the costs and benefits, so that the benefit of waiting to get in legally is higher than coming in illegally. As has been seen recently we need much better security at the border. We need more border patrol officers, with more tools at their discretion to deal with the issue. There also needs to be heftier punishments for employers who hire illegal immigrants, as well as higher penalties for immigrating in the future will do much to deter it, but that is only one side of the coin. The other side consists of making it easier to get in the country legally. We can streamline the process, eliminating unnecessary paperwork, and especially encouraging certain types of immigrants, such as getting the smartest and most talented of other countries into our own, and also doing more to make sure families get here easier.
The second goal is to take care of those who are already here, by giving them legal status, but making sure they have to pay a fine, and are in the back of the line of those are waiting for legal immigration and citizenship. It may help to place a certain time limit such as seven years or so to become a citizen. We should focus on deporting only those illegals who commit further crimes after they have already illegally immigrated, and those crimes can be as small as robbing a liquor store, or an OUI. If there are illegals who are here and separated from family across the border, we should make the effort to reunite them here. This is something pro-family conservatives should be able to get behind. Legalizing illegals also provides the additional benefit of being able to know who they are, and easier to track down should they commit a crime.
One important thing for conservatives and Republicans to remember is that, although politically it may hurt in the long run because most illegals turn out to be liberals, it is the right thing to do policy wise, and as those claiming to be values voters, and pro-life conservatives, this is something conservatives should be able to get behind. This isn’t about making government bigger or smaller. It is immigration policy (and it actually benefits a free market), and something we should be able to find a compromise on.