So.. looks like Arizona has decided to jump right into this whole “illegal immigration” issue eh? Can I take a moment and ask just what in the hell is up with Arizona? Between this and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it’s as if Arizona is hell-bent on stealing the crazy from Florida.
The reality, of course, is that Arizona DOES have a wicked problem with illegal immigration. However, their means to solve this problem are a bit.. far-reaching to say the least. For those of you who aren’t quite up on what this law is about, let me summarize:
Police now have the authority AND the obligation to detain anyone they think might be in the state (and, thereby, the country) illegally.
Now. Let’s just take a moment and really think about this. First off, yes… law enforcement personnel do need to have a fair amount of leniency in upholding current immigration laws. Unfortunately, immigration law has been completely overrun by a massive influx of immigrants in recent decades (no, not just years, decades) and, as a result, there’s no way to effectively deal with this problem. For every one that’s caught, at least 10, 15, maybe even 20 or more get by. So illegal immigration is a VERY systemic problem in the US. So, clearly, something has to be done. We can try to reform the current laws, but it’s not going to do much good until we find a way to slow down the influx of illegal immigration into the country. But Arizona’s plan -while bold- is obviously the wrong way to go. Instead, we need to examine the current immigration laws and figure out a way to make them easier and more expedient.
However, before we do anything else, we need to combat the first problem, which is the large number of illegals who are currently already here. And yes, this means the dreaded “Amnesty” program.
Of course, this isn’t a terribly new concept. Indeed, President Reagan signed a bill into law that covered this exact same issue in 1986 (Wikipedia). However, this act had minimal success and employers quickly found ways around the law, mostly via the use of sub-contractors. And therein is just one of the problems with reform and amnesty: employers will always find ways around the laws of the land to satisfy needs and reduce costs (the two of which are rarely mutually exclusive). So to effectively treat the illegal immigration problem, there need to be major changes not just on the Hill, but in the minds of employers, something that the current Amnesty program won’t exactly help out with. The problem with the current Federal reform legislation is that it’s a lengthy process, something that -as we all know in this hyperconnected age- is something thats in great demand and dwindling supply.
So you can grant all the amnesty you want, but when it takes months upon months (indeed, YEARS after a backlog is cleared) and will cost thousands of dollars ($5,000 in “fees and fines”), you’ve really had no net effect. In fact, all you’ve really done is just put a cork into a hole in the dam and then glued it and hopes that it’ll hold out while you rebuild the entire dam around it. Now, let’s be clear.. it IS something. It IS a solution where none has been present and it’s forward-momentum, which is always good. The problem is, it’s just not enough to handle the current problems. We need to go further.
Of course, most people panic at this “further” idea, naturally assuming that the President sign a bill into law that, poof, makes everyone here legal. Just fill out some paperwork, pay a processing fee, and we forget that you came here without respecting the initial law of the land. Which would be a GREAT idea since a chunk of the folks who do come here illegally are mostly wanting a shot at a better life and are usually working with forged/purchased SSNs. So, funny enough, they actually are already contributing to the system, but not to their own advantage. Waving a magic “you’re legal!” wand here would be a great solution, but only to a small subset of workers who already benefit the country anyways. The other problem is that the larger subset of illegals are often here as day laborers, farmers, and migrant workers who don’t really “require” documentation. They work in brief bursts and skirt by under any sort of wage reporting limits, so they’re truly invisible to the system and are the ones causing the most damage. Of course this isn’t their intent, but it’s a byproduct that needs to be recognized and treated. Again, blanket amnesty seems to be the solution, but it really isn’t. So what is the solution and how is amnesty involved?
Quite simple. For workers already here, we need to let them know that we’re going to solve the problem, but they need to be upfront with us. We need their actual identifying information from their country of origin to prove that they aren’t hardened criminals from said COO’s. Note: “hardened criminals.” I don’t care if they got busted for purse snatching when they were 16. We’re all young and retarded, we all learn. However, I DO care if they got nailed for transporting kilos of cocaine, weed, or guns across the border or within their COO. I’m sorry, but if you were set for hard time in your native land, you get to back and serve it in full before we let you in here, if we let you in here at all. And yes, this does require us to work extensively with the global community and for that same community to work extensively with us… something that’s a bit strained as of late. Indeed, part of this is going to require some ass-kissing on the part of the US, but I think it’s something that we can do just to get the wheels in motion. Pride isn’t the issue here, it’s efficiency. Once we can verify credentials, then we simply have them pay some sort of processing fee (let’s do keep it low, this doesn’t need to be a revenue stream), and bam.. that’s it. It’s done. They’re in the system, documented, and contributing to the Fed and helping ensure our infrastructure. So instead of taking 8 to 13 years to clear the backlogs that is estimated under the current reform, we can hopefully get this problem trimmed in 3 to 5. Yes, it’s still years.. but 3 to 5 versus 8 to 13 is an obvious no-brainer.
So that rather conveniently leads us back to Arizona. Clever one I am, eh?
The reality is that the legislation passed in Arizona is going to end up creating a horrible mess with respect to racial profiling. The thing is, how “bad” is this? I think we can all agree that the greatest source of illegal immigration is from Mexico. And it’s not one of those things where Mexico is some horrible country (well, it has its moments…), it’s just that the outlying fringes of the country get the least amount of Mexican governmental money and a greater influx of US dollars via localized tourism. Add proximity to the mix and of COURSE they’re going to come here en masse. So let’s work to make this work for us. These border towns? Let’s talk to Mexico and treat them like a DMZ (please, no Vietnam rants in the comments, thanks) and stage people through them. It would really help speed the process along because we’d have a centralized path into the country from Mexico (one of many as other border states would likely set up similar “naturalization stations.”). This could actually give some of those border town residents a glimmer of hope because those who couldn’t afford the naturalization fees could actually volunteer for a reduction in fees, or even an elimination entirely if they volunteer enough. It’s a simple equation. Plus with an open and streamlined path, BOTH sides win as there will no doubt be more tourism to these areas as families agree to meet up in these towns and bring valuable US currency to the region and Mexico gets to add in a few Pesos of their own to help offset costs. It creates jobs for both sides and that’s always beneficial.
So that’s my idea so far. Yes, I know there’s a few points I’ve glossed over (namely that a lot of illegal immigration is tied to crime), but I honestly believe that opening up immigration to being a more streamlined and simplistic process will actually offset these issues. No, it won’t make them disappear entirely, but it sure as hell is going to help us be able to better enforce border security. We won’t ever stop the problem of illegal immigration, that’s just a fact. However, Arizona is now in a prime position to test out an idea that could curtail it quite dramatically. One can only hope that they will also realize just what kind of opportunity they’ve given themselves and act accordingly.