An irony of the illegal immigration issue is that both the left and the right want to end up at the same place but can’t make progress on the issue since we disagree on how to get there.
Let’s imagine it’s 2050 and this is the end state we’ve been able to achieve —
- Everyone who is here is a citizen, a green card holder, or under some government program.
- No one is allowed to enter the country illegally
- Anyone in the country illegally, is deported.
Would you be content that the illegal immigration problem had been solved? I would be. Of course, there are those on the far right and the far left who would both be very unhappy but they’re just gong to have to deal with it.
My fellow right wing loonies — we’re all going to have to deal with the fact that those among us who are illegal aren’t going anywhere. We can’t even deport felons much less illegals who are living here as “good people.”
Yes, yes, by definition they’re law breakers but we’re not going to round them up and we’re not going to go into schools after their children. And if their children were born here, we’re not going to revoke their birthright citizenship.
If our goal is to have everyone in the country be legal, the only option open to us is to make them legal in some manner. This is the fight we should be fighting.
I actually think the Dream Act of 2017 got close:
- Grant current DACA beneficiaries permanent resident status on a conditional basis, and allow TPS beneficiaries, people without lawful immigration status, and people with final orders of removal the opportunity to apply for this same immigration status.
- Permit conditional permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status (sometimes referred to as getting a “green card”) if they go to college, have worked for a certain amount of time, or served in the U.S. military. They also would have to meet other requirements.
- Provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship. The path would be as follows: Conditional permanent residence (CPR) status for 8 years, during which time the person must fulfill the requirements for eligibility to apply for LPR status; applying for and receiving LPR status; spending a certain period of time (generally 5 years) in LPR status; then, finally, applying for and receiving U.S. citizenship.
- Stay (stop) the removal proceedings of anyone who meets the Dream Act requirements and young people over 5 years of age who are enrolled in elementary or secondary school.
- Improve college affordability for undocumented youth and other immigrants by changing rules that limit their access to in-state tuition and to student financial aid made available by states and institutions.
I would make a few critical changes:
- Anyone in the country illegally MUST apply for a conditional permanent resident (CPR) status. If you don’t or it is not granted, you will be deported.
- Once a Conditional Permanent Status has been issued, you MUST apply for legal permanent resident (LPR) status at the end of 8 years. If you do not, you will be deported.
- Once they have achieved LPR status, you MUST apply for citizenship. If you do not, you will be deported.
- If citizenship is denied, you will be deported.
There is also language that the applicant will pay a fine. Paying a fine does not make them a better citizen. I would much prefer that within the 8 years of CPR status, the applicant MUST complete 1,000 hours of community service. At the current minimum wage of $7.25, that results in a minimum of $7,250 of real tangible value added by each applicant to the country. If you do not complete the 1,000 hours in 8 years, you cannot apply for LPR status and you will be deported.
“Community service” is a well understood concept under the law so I’m not inventing anything new here. There’s certainly a challenge of ramping to scale but one would hope applying for and tracking of time could be highly automated.
The other issues, including border security, fall in line since no one who has put in this much effort to become a U.S. citizen is going to allow others to receive the same benefits “for free.”
Problem solved. You’re welcome.