Dain Blenk, Guest Columnist
There are several problems with the current U.S. immigration laws. Immigration is what made the United States what it is today, but the world has changed and our laws haven’t kept up. Pile on top of that our government’s tendency to throw more money and bureaucracy at a problem and we end up where we are today, with a system so out of touch with people’s needs that there are an estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the US. The thing that seems to be hard for some of us to remember is that these are people… not just numbers, immigrants, or illegal aliens.
Something everyone should be able to agree on is that the system badly needs reform. Smuggling yourself across the US border is an act of desperation. Most people would not risk getting shot or otherwise detained by border patrol if there was a viable alternative. Getting into the United States legally isn’t necessarily easy. The system can be slow, inconvenient, often expensive, the outcome of applications is uncertain, and in some cases there may be repercussions in the home country for failed attempts to emigrate. Privatization of the system for efficient use of funds could be beneficial, with a clear set of prerequisites for temporary or permanent immigration to the US.
Perhaps people could pay for temporary housing through public service while they got on their feet, or there could be loans to carry them until they found work. If an American citizen can pay on college loans for 30+ years then “interim subsistence” loans should be a possibility. For those only here on temporary visa, there should be a check-in system where periodic contact is required until the visa expires and is either renewed or that individual leaves the country. There is no quick fix to the issue of the millions of undocumented immigrants already in our country. There are many families with children here who have a need for education. These children should be able to go to public school, if for no other reason than the fact that I don’t want to live in a country with that many more uneducated or undereducated people! We complain about people not speaking our language but we can’t give them a chance to learn? I’m not saying we should be sending illegals to college for free, but there needs to be a system in place while they transition from undocumented to legal workers or citizens. There are some benefits of being a citizen that undocumented immigrants should not have. For example, giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses and putting them on welfare is not the direction we should be headed. Yes, immigrants need to get to work/school, daycare, etc. but most can take public transit or walk.
Requiring undocumented immigrants go through the immigration process without being forced to leave the country should be doable as long as there is a deadline for applicants (perhaps a year to start the process). A stepped/tiered program where everyone had a certain amount of time to become a citizen, get a temporary visa, or leave the country doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. This system would need to be easily accessible and feasible with no repercussions to those admitting they are here illegally, or it simply will not work. Initially one would give their info so they could get a Transition Id Number so there is a way to keep track of progress. Once a TIN has been assigned, one would apply for a temporary visa (under which you have the periodic contact requirements and access to the support group/temporary housing). The final step, Citizenship, should be optional. If people stay past the deadline without pursuing those actions they should be deported. The only reasons I can see to not wanting to participate in this system would be already having a shady record, and/or not wanting to be a part of the taxpaying system…in either case we should deport these people as they are not welcome here (criminal offenses accepted on a case by case basis). A system to support these changes would be large and require training and employees to handle the added stress on the already frayed system. I’m no accountant, but I should think the added tax revenue from all the added citizens/taxpayers would be able to cover the cost of these additions.
There are no easy answers, and in the end this has all just been my opinion, but I feel that if the system were overhauled to remove the red-tape and people were treated as just that – people, there would be far less illegal border crossing, and far better attitudes toward our fellow citizens of the world.
Dain Blenk is an air force veteran, staunch unaffiliated conservative, and a skilled craftsman and metalworker based out of Washington State. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.