President Obama has stirred up a lot of controversy recently, after deciding to give “amnesty” to young illegal immigrants. So I’m going to give some food for thought. This issue has been one which pits the various factions within the Republican Party against each other. You have the liberty wing of the GOP–like myself–who want the market to be the primary force deciding immigration. You have the protectionist wing–old former Democrats who came to the party during the Reagan years but didn’t leave all of their big-government policies (and occasional bigotry) behind, and you have the establishment-types who are probably just trying to find the political winds and go with what’s popular. Also to consider, the large number of Hispanic Republicans at the convention, who are sick and tired of the games by those who seemingly want to choke Latin American immigration off completely.
At the Republican Party of Texas’ state convention in Ft. Worth a couple weeks ago, this ideological battle was clear and present. I was attending as an alternate for Brazos County and RLC Chair Dave Nalle was a delegate for Travis County. I won’t be going to Tampa but I’m proud to say that going to the convention allowed me to do two things I really wanted to do. Send some authentic small-government Republicans (including some Ron Paul supporters) to Tampa, and get some really dumb things removed from the state party platform during the drafting process. The end result was shocking to me at first but also gave me hope that the Republican Party is moving in the right direction. The liberty wing and the establishment united on one of the biggest hot-button issues: immigration.
During a minority report, delegates had the chance to voice opinions on the party platform before the final draft was taken to the floor–where delegates from all over the state would vote on it. Dave and I attended this session. It was small, as most of the people had left for dinner or their hotel rooms. It was around 8 PM. What I saw in the platform was an immigration plank that was very market friendly, attempting to make it easier for immigrants with the skills we need to get work visas. Work visas that may eventually lead to those immigrants becoming proud Americans. Well, the protectionists were having none of it, and they tried to get it struck down, using some of the most bogus arguments.
I testified in favor of it. Gave a brief bio of myself as the son of an immigrant and congratulated them on taking a market based approach. Immediately I was followed by some angry man who came off as a lunatic, claiming we’d become an overpopulated, poverty-stricken place like Mexico City. I wanted terribly to rebut him and put his “arguments” to shame, but we only got to speak once. Fortunately, a fellow Aggie was there to do a much better job than I did. His name was Jerry Patterson, and he will be running for Lt. Governor of Texas in 2014. Since I see no candidate emerging with better positions than him, he’s definitely getting my vote. The committee decided to keep the plank. Later, when the plank was being brought up before the at-large caucus, the protectionists lined up to testify against it, again calling the work visas “amnesty”. The establishment and the liberty wing loudly shouted “ay” as Chairman Munisteri issued a motion to move on to the next issue. The plank passed.
Now, had I been given the opportunity to speak again on the issue, and in more detail, I would have said something along the following lines. I would have made the case for a market-based immigration policy. I would have explained to the clearly uninformed voter that our current immigration system of quotas and a ridiculously unnecessary level of federal bureaucracy is a remnant of the so-called progressive era. Progressivism is the very thing we Constitutionalists are [supposedly] trying to combat within the Republican Party.
So here’s some food for thought on why the current system is unacceptable, and why the market can solve this issue better than a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington. I’ll follow it up with my plan for an immigration overhaul: a simple, fair, merit-based system that would save the taxpayer billions of dollars and grow this economy exponentially.
First, lets talk illegals. There’s this notion that all of the 12 million illegals in American were merely border-hopping people with no respect for our laws. This is far from the truth.
A lot of the “illegals” are only so because of useless bureaucracy that originated not with the founding fathers but with progressives like Woodrow Wilson–a notorious bigot. To understand how things were prior to the progressive era, think prior to the 20th century. And just before the turn of the century there was a Supreme Court ruling on birthright citizenship that gives you a general idea about immigration policy before the federal government became the center of our lives it is today.
If you revisit the rationale behind the 1898 Supreme Court case US v. Wong Kim Ark, you find a realistic solution to the “anchor baby” problem, and you also put a bunch of the ridiculous birther propaganda about Senator Marco Rubio in the trash heap of conspiracy nonsense where it belongs.
The case ruled that a child born on American soil to immigrant parents who were “engaged in the procurement of non-diplomatic business” (i.e. worked in the private sector) and had established a domicile (homestead law, which varies from state to state) was a natural born citizen. Back then it was pretty much “work hard and obey the laws and you can stay”.
This is the approach we need to take as Republicans. It destroys the liberal media’s ability to smear us as racists. It exposes the Democrats for the hypocrites they are on the issue. But most important of all, it would create something that President Obama hasn’t. Tens of millions of new jobs!
Due to the bureaucracy it takes too damn long to become a citizen. My father immigrated to this country from Lebanon in the mid 1970s. He did not become a citizen until 1999. Some of this delay was due to the fact he was always working but in today’s America 20 years is probably the average length it takes from immigration to citizenship. That, to me, is just plain stupid! The bureaucracy also makes it too hard to get a green card. Take the case of a German man named Gunter. He is a restaurant owner in New Braunfels, TX. I met him last year at a Students for Liberty regional conference. He still has to leave the restaurant and return to Germany every few years and reapply for a visa because they have made it too difficult for him to get a green card. This man is a small-business owner, who obviously wishes to do business in a freer country than his own, and is being given the runaround by a bunch of gubment employees who I’m willing to bet have never created a real job in their lifetimes.
Gunter is just one example of many. We have all these high skill international students in our colleges. They outperform their American peers in science and engineering programs subsidized with our tax dollars, and what do we do? We make naturalization so difficult that they go back to their home countries and use the skills we taught them against us in the global market? How is that intelligent? They should be playing for team America. We are a country where the best in the world left their homelands to escape poverty and tyranny, and to embrace the free-enterprise system that has created more wealth and human advancement in a couple centuries than any other in the entire history of the world before in.
So I propose a new immigration system for the United States. A capitalist system.
Step 1: We reopen Ellis Island and centers like it all across the country.
That way we can actually account for the people that come into the country for national security purposes. We must still be stringent on immigrants from countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or from Gaza/West Bank, to make sure they are legitimate people seeking freedom from theocrats and not theocrats themselves coming to this country to commit terrorism. And trust me, virtually everyone would choose going through one of those processing centers to using a coyote. At least every honest person would. So at the same time it makes it easier to figure out who the good guys are. These centers should be able to provide immigrants with some advice on where to live, work, and possibly offer English speaking courses for those who need it.
Step 2: Create a new system of regulating immigration status that is based in merit and behavior.
Everyone who comes into the United States gets a five-year trial period. They would get a work visa. At the end of this 5 years if they will be examined. If they work in the private sector, and do not commit any violent or financial crimes–and I emphasize this because nobody should be deported for something like a traffic violation–and demonstrate reasonable English speaking skills, they will be awarded permanent residency in the United States. If they are convicted of a serious violent or financial crime they should be immediately deported. If the English speaking does not meet the standard they will not receive a green card, but can reapply for a temporary work visa. No need to kick them out over that. This will probably not be an issue as most immigrants will be encouraged to learn the language because they want to stay in this great country.
As for welfare use. We need to crack down on sanctuary cities. Government welfare should be denied to anyone who is not a permanent US resident or US citizen. Personally I would like to see the federal welfare state abolished, but I’m a realist and understand that this is at least 20 years away from happening. Private charity, religious or secular, should not be a factor in whether or not one is granted permanent residency. If a church or private organization wants to help an individual, that is purely at their discretion. Its their money!
Step 3: Reform the naturalization process in a manner that expedites it.
After receiving their green card, they enter another five year trial period. If during this trial period they continue to meet the criteria set for them in the first, work hard and obey the law, then at the end of that 5 year period they will be moved to the front of the line and naturalized as citizens of the United States.
Step 4: What to do about the illegals already here? Well obviously it would be financially impossible to deport them all. So here’s where President Obama actually had a point for once. Focus on the criminals. As for the others, the proper solution is that they must take the new route established. They must go to the back of the line in the new processing centers, and begin the first five-year trial period. For those that were brought here as children by parents, they’re really victims of human trafficking if you think about it. Provided they have no criminal records and work hard I see no reason why they should be deported. But they should still go through the new system.
5 years to permanent residency and 10 years to citizenship, its not a bad deal. But nobody is just going to be handed it. That would be amnesty. And amnesty is not the solution.
Now, I’m gonna get some responses to this. So, I’m going to preempt some of the typical ones I get.
The left will call it ‘fascist’ for the English-language requirement. Anyone who is familiar with my views knows I’m as far from fascist as Kim Kardashian is from the Blessed Virgin Mary. English should have been made the official language a long time ago I don’t understand why it isn’t. Multikulti has failed miserably in Europe. I recommend reading Bruce Bawer’s books While Europe Slept and Surrender. I have no intention of chasing away foreign culture. I took two years of Spanish in high school and one year of Japanese in college and am currently teaching myself the latter and plan on doing the same with the former once I have the time. My father speaks Arabic and French. That’s what makes America great. Immigrants like my father bring the best of what the old country has to offer (usually in the form of cuisine or music), but unlike the lawless Islamic enclaves in European cities Bawer documents, they don’t bring the authoritarian ideologies with them, that’s why they left!
It makes it easier on immigrants when they are able to communicate with natural born citizens rather than having to search for people from their own country. The language barrier tends to break down over generations as their children learn English but it seems more efficient to me if it is expedited. There will always be Korea Towns and Little Italys. But segregation was repealed and tossed into the ash heap of history half a century ago, yet America today still has a defacto segregation. We don’t need to be living in white neighborhoods or black neighborhoods or Hispanic neighborhoods we need to be living in American neighborhoods.
Encouraging English speaking skills (notice I didn’t even say reading/writing, as most Americans struggle with grammar) as a manner to expedite the path to ones citizenship merely tests their mettle as to how badly they want to be a part of America as a whole and not just as a “minority”. It opens more doors to them in terms of career advancement, which of course leads to more money. And its not going to be an arduous task, as many of them will likely be learning it already as ESL students or employees working alongside Americans if they didn’t know some coming in.
Then of course the protectionists claim things like “overpopulation” and “they’re gonna take the jobs Americans need”. No, they won’t. In fact, we actually have people leaving the US because there aren’t jobs for them. There is NOT an overpopulation problem in the country. For those of you who think there is I have merely one thing to say to you: Have you ever been to Nebraska?
Okay, maybe I have more than one thing to say. There is no overpopulation problem, only a population density problem. In fact, if the entire population of the world, which is approaching 7 billion people was spread out into one area with the population density of New York City it would fill an area about the size of Texas. If it was as dense as Houston, it wouldn’t even fill the continental United States.
Overpopulation only becomes a problem with the presence of a welfare state. And it is the welfare state that needs to be reigned in. By requiring immigrants to work (or use private charity) and cutting them off from welfare programs, they are not a drag on the taxpayer; they become taxpayers. The welfare behemoth is going to take years to reign in and if we don’t start now we will suffer a Greece-like debt crisis before decade’s end. But as it relates to immigrants its not nearly as difficult an issue as it is relating to citizens.
Hard working people sustain themselves and should not be barred from becoming citizens provided they obey the laws. They should be welcomed with open arms. They will create jobs, create tax revenue, grow the economy and shrink the budget deficit. Its the criminals and the moochers that are the problem and they should be sent home. We have too many Americans that fall into those categories.
If these immigrants “take your job” its because you didn’t work hard enough to defeat them. Sorry bro, but that’s how capitalism works, the best win.
So lets recap.
5 years to a green card, 10 years to citizenship. And all I’m asking is that they work hard and stay out of trouble? This is the immigration policy that will allow the GOP to seize control of the issue from the Democrats permanently. It gives us two things: the reduction of federal bureaucracy conservatives want, and the opportunity to join the free-enterprise system that immigrants want.
Hey Mitt, think about it!
Aaron Alghawi obtained a B.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 2012. He is a national board member and Director of Student Outreach for the Republican Liberty Caucus.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.