Scanning through the immigration reform proposal released by a bi-partisan group of Senators I was shocked by what I read because it actually made sense. An intelligent combination of border security measures, accountability for past violations of law combined with a clear path to citizenship the proposed plan is the first intelligent proposal I have seen coming out of Washington in some time. (Full Text)
Border Security - Added emphasis on technology and border security infrastructure will tighten America’s Borders. ”I don’t want to have to revisit this in ten years,” proposal co-sponsor Senator Marco Rubio said on Hannity tonight. ”Without border security, the rest of the bill is meaningless.”
40% of all illegal immigration comes from people who arrive in the country legally and then do not leave the country when their visa expires. Currently we don’t even try to monitor compliance with visa expiration. Under the proposal systems would be put in place to monitor and enforce visa expiration. (Reuters)
Path to Citizenship - One of the biggest sticking points has been granting “amnesty” to those who have broken the law thereby encouraging others to break the law rather than legally apply for a green card and eventually citizenship. Granting amnesty would also put those violating the law in a better position to obtain citizenship more quickly than those following the law.
The proposal does provide a clear path to citizenship for those here illegally, but only after registering for an alien work permit (a step short of a green card), to pay a penalty for violating the law and to pay any income taxes due. Later the proposal would allow those that follow all of the steps and clear background checks to obtain a green card and eventually obtain citizenship, but only after getting in line behind those that have applied legally.
Electronic Employment Verification - Once the program is in place, it can only remain effective if future violations are enforced. To bolster compliance, the proposal strengthens employment verification which would have the primary purpose of discouraging people from entering the country illegally because it would be difficult or impossible to find work and the secondary purpose of making identity theft more difficult.
Temporary Worker Program – In addition to a path to citizenship, the proposal would also establish a system to allow temporary worker permits for seasonal work or to help find to help handle peak employment needs.
Overall the proposal is a rounded and balanced program intended to be fully enforced. In a country where we allegedly have a strong rule of law, we have chosen not to enforce our immigration laws. In a fully functioning democracy, enforcement of the rule of law should not be a discretionary act. Laws are laws and should be followed or changed. The changes to our immigration laws proposed today are a strong first step towards truly restoring the rule of law to America. While this proposal was made by four Democrats and four Republicans I am concerned that it will be botched by misled conservative Republicans that have led the party to the brink of destruction or will be quietly scuttled by Democrats that don’t want this Republican damaging issue to go away.