Earning my presidential vote: immigration

Last week the Center for Immigration Studies came out with a claim that the number of those living in our country who speak a foreign language at home has tripled since 1980, now numbering almost 65 million. We also fret about the terrorism risk from those who would claim to be refugees or simply sneak across our border. In short, immigration is the hot-button issue that propelled Donald Trump to the GOP nomination – unfortunately, he’s since radically backpedaled on the issue to the advocacy of “touchback amnesty” that will likely lose its “touchback” provisions.

So the question is: are we a nation of laws or not? Illegal to me is illegal, not “undocumented.” So here’s my stance in five bullet points or less:

  • We are told that you can’t deport 11 million illegals. But you can create the conditions where they will leave on their own through stricter law enforcement.
  • We need border security. If the “virtual wall” doesn’t work, then we need to build a physical barrier.
  • There also needs to be a reform of the visa system. A large and growing part of the illegal immigration problem is visa overstays, so it’s time to crack down.
  • An end to “birthright citizenship.”
  • While testing for religious beliefs is illegal and quite impractical – since certain religions permit lying to advance them - one has to ask why we accept immigrants and grant visas to those from countries who are our enemies.

As always, if you want to back up and review this series on earning my vote from the start feel free to. But here is where my contenders stand on the immigration issue, for eleven points.

Castle: “I believe that immigration in all its forms should be stopped until we can vet immigrants properly and our borders are under control. We can’t be allowing people with terrorist ties, or who are carrying dangerous communicable diseases, to enter our country unchecked. But once we have regained control of our borders and the flow of immigrants, we can admit as many as we choose, in a controlled and lawful manner.

I do not favor asylum for those here illegally nor do I favor a path to citizenship. Welfare or entitlement programs, if you choose to call them that, should be strictly for American citizens. I have said that I would not deport wholesale but I would not hesitate individually if the need arose.”

Should not take in refugees, “I’m all for secure borders.”

Hedges: “We would deploy sufficient resources to stop all illegal traffic in people and drugs across America’s land and sea borders. We would not provide driver’s licenses, educational subsidies, or welfare benefits to illegal aliens, except that the medical conditions of gravely ill illegals would be stabilized before they are deported. We strongly oppose granting citizenship to ‘anchor babies’ born to illegal alien mothers.” (party platform)

Hoefling: We demand the immediate securing and continuous vigilant maintenance of our sovereign territory and borders. We oppose any private or governmental action that rewards illegal entry into the United States in any way, and demand speedy and full enforcement of our laws concerning all such activities. (party platform)

Johnson: Practical Reform. No Walls. Incentivize Assimilation.

Having served as Governor of a border state, Gary Johnson knows the complex issues associated with immigration reform first hand. Solving immigration problems is not as easy as building a wall or simply offering amnesty.

We should appreciate and respect the diversity of immigrants that come to the United States to be productive members of society. But we also need to recognize that everyone who comes here is not so well-intentioned.

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld don’t want to build an expensive and useless wall. The only thing a big wall will do is increase the size of the ladders, the depth of the tunnels, and the width of the divisions between us.

Candidates who say they want to militarize the border, build fences, and impose punitive measures on good people, ground their position in popular rhetoric, not practical solutions.

Governors Johnson and Weld believe that, instead of appealing to emotions and demonizing immigrants, we should focus on creating a more efficient system of providing work visas, conducting background checks, and incentivizing non-citizens to pay their taxes, obtain proof of employment, and otherwise assimilate with our diverse society.

Making it simpler and more efficient to enter the United States legally will provide greater security than a wall by allowing law enforcement to focus on those who threaten our country, not those who want to be a part of it. (campaign website)

McMullin: The story of America is the story of immigration. Evan McMullin’s family left Ireland in the 1600s to seek a better life in the New World. Part of his mother’s family fled Poland because of the Nazi menace.

The country we love was built by immigrants. Yet while we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. We must preserve our sovereignty, our security, and the rule of law.

We also need a president who will enforce the law instead of forcing through an illegal amnesty by executive order. Nor should “sanctuary cities” be able to refuse cooperation with the federal enforcement efforts.

The path to reform begins with securing our borders. Once they are secured, there should be a process of earned legalization for the illegal immigrants who are already here. There is simply no efficient way to deport 11 million individuals; doing so would break apart families and likely cost $100 billion. Furthermore, legalization is not amnesty.

While addressing illegal immigration, it is vital to remember that legal immigration is one of America’s greatest strengths. Immigrants and their children have a long record of hard work, starting businesses, and creating jobs. Still, we need to reform the legal immigration system so that it prioritizes American interests and security, including the protection of workers from low-wage, low-skill competition.

There should be a robust debate about immigration, but there should be no place for the kind of hateful and divisive rhetoric frequently on display in this campaign.

To secure the border, we need more manpower, better technology, and—in some places—walls. First, the government should hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents. Second, the government should invest in advanced sensing and surveillance technologies, including cameras. Finally, there are several hundred miles of the southern border where walls are being built and must be completed. However, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to build a wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The incentive that attracts illegal immigrants to the United States is the opportunity to work. To reduce that incentive, employers should be required to use the eVerify system, which was designed to help them determine if job applicants are in the country legally. “Sanctuary cities” must follow the law as well, or face the cut off of federal funding.

Above all, the president must obey the law. President Obama’s executive amnesties in 2012 and 2014 sought to place more than five million illegal immigrants beyond the reach of law enforcement. This year, however, a federal judge struck down the amnesties and the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue.

A president who respects the Constitution knows that only Congress can make the law; executive amnesties violate this principle.

Deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is simply not practical. It would likely cost more than $100 billion and force the federal government to act in an intrusive manner that would violate the privacy of both citizens and legal residents. Deportation would also break up families, hurting children who are not responsible for their parents’ actions. Criminals, however, would still be subject to deportation.

The first step toward earning legal status is for all those who are here illegally to come forward and register themselves. Next they would pay an application fee and a fine, undergo a background check, and demonstrate competence in English. If they do those things, they would get a temporary work and residence permit, but would not be eligible for welfare or entitlement programs. If they obey the law and pay their taxes for several years, they could apply for permanent residency.

This is not amnesty; amnesty is when lawbreakers get something for nothing. Evan’s approach requires every illegal immigrant to earn the right to stay here.

Our country’s immigration policy should serve its economic interests. The best and brightest from all over the world want to live and work in America, yet the current immigration system mistakenly prioritizes the reunification of extended families.

Immigrants founded forty percent of the American companies in the Fortune 500. They also founded one half of Silicon Valley’s most successful start-ups. In other words, they help create high-quality jobs for all Americans.

The effect of current policy, which focuses on family reunification, is to encourage the arrival of those with less education, fewer skills, and little savings. This creates competition for American workers who don’t have the advantage of a college education and already face the greatest challenges in today’s high-tech economy.

Another problem is the misuse of programs, such as the H-1B visa, that are designed to attract the best and brightest. Instead, companies may use these programs to find cheaper replacements for skilled American workers. We need to make sure that all our immigration programs are being used in good faith.

The way that we deal with immigration will have a profound impact on our identity as Americans. We must be careful to preserve our nation’s unity and commitment to fairness. At the same time, our debates and our policies should reflect the civility and tolerance that helped forge a nation out of immigrants from every nation on earth. By replacing divisive rhetoric with genuine action to secure the border, we can work towards immigration reform that makes America safer, fairer, and more prosperous. (campaign website)

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I like the idea Darrell Castle has regarding an immigration pause, but there is a legitimate argument that stopping immigration entirely will just convince people to try other methods. such as overstaying their visas or sneaking across the border until they are secure. One question is whether he would use the military to do so, risking violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Generally his is a solid approach, though. 7 points.

The approach from Jim Hedges (or at least his party) is very good, although as I study the candidate I question if he would follow through. It does provide necessary disincentives, although it doesn’t have an exit strategy. 7.5 points.

Secure the border and enforce the laws. The America’s Party approach from Tom Hoefling is beautiful in its simplicity, although it leaves some gaps as to detail. 7 points.

Gary Johnson criticizes the approach of his opponents as impractical, but what he comes up with is impotent for solving the issue. As I noted above, more Americans than ever speak a foreign language at home so the assimilation approach does not seem to be working. Those who come here legally and wish to assimilate aren’t the problem because they follow the rule of law, and to provide for those who do not follow the rules is a slap to those who do. No points.

Similarly, Evan McMullin argues “legalization is not amnesty” but paying a fine isn’t much of a punishment. He has some good thoughts in a number of areas, but I do not believe in amnesty such as he proposes. I may consider the immigrant who goes back and does things the right way after a significant period of time (measured in multiple years) has elapsed, but what McMullin proposes will simply be a magnet for more illegal immigration. 3 points.

I’m more inclined to hear arguments on both sides of foreign policy, which is my next topic.

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One Response to “Earning my presidential vote: immigration”

  1. […] Well, that spread the field out some. We will see how much more of that occurs tomorrow when I resume the series with immigration. […]

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