(Danny Tarkanian) – One of the most critical issues dividing our country today is how to handle the millions of individuals residing in our country who entered illegally. Although everyone agrees an immediate solution is necessary, politicians from both parties have refused to have meaningful dialogue.
Many Republicans are afraid that if they make certain concessions they could lose their base of voters; while many Democrats privately hope this issue remains unresolved so that they may continue to use it as a weapon in future elections. In the meantime, the problems created by illegal immigration get worse, passions become more inflamed, and our country becomes more divided.
There are solid, well-founded, and ardent arguments on both sides. Nevertheless, there is a common sense solution. It is one that will both displease and gratify each side. As with any true compromise, that is the only outcome one should expect from an issue so emotionally divisive.
To achieve the best solution one must acknowledge the underlying facts and apply fair and reasonable ideas. There are somewhere between 10 to 20 million people in our country illegally, many with spouses and children. Most have been in our country for many years, providing critical work for our economy, paying their share of taxes and living law-biding lives. It is unrealistic to argue we can or should deport these people.
On the other hand, we are a country that is dependent upon the Rule of Law. As such, we cannot reward people who break the law, nor can we maintain the Rule of Law by enforcing certain laws, while consciously ignoring others. In addition, our country is facing an economic crisis because of its staggering and rising debt. Common sense would dictate that we should not be spending tax-payer money on individuals who are in our country illegally when there are so many unmet needs for our legal residents.
My solution addresses each of the above stated facts with a common sense and practical solution. It comprises seven, mutually dependent, steps.
First, a person who has entered the country illegally but has not committed a serious crime and who is either gainfully employed, serving in the military or attending a school of higher education should, along with his/her immediate family, be issued a legal residency card. The person and his/her immediate family can remain in the country legally as long as they do not commit a serious crime and stay gainfully employed, serve in the military or continue in higher education. The immediate family will be eligible for all benefits provided legal residents. Should the wage earner lose his/her job, that person should be given six months to find a new job.
In addition, each member of the immediate family shall have the opportunity to apply for citizenship but must be placed at the end of the line as all new applicants are. No one who entered the country illegally should be placed ahead of anyone who applied for citizenship the legal way.
Second, each individual who applies for and is issued this residency card must pay a set fine to the United States government.
Third, it is crucial for the success of these new immigrants and the continued development of our country that the new immigrants assimilate into American society and to do so, they must become fluent in English. As a result, all public schools, where applicable, will be required to provide a separate English class for immigrants who do not currently speak English. Adults and children will be required to attend and pass said class. The revenue collected from the fines mentioned above will pay for these classes.
Fourth, the borders of our country must be secured by the best means possible with today’s technology and all of our country’s resources. Protecting our borders, after all, is a matter of National Security!
Fifth, anyone who enters our country from this point forward will not be entitled to taxpayer paid benefits except emergency medical aid. Public schools will be required to check the legal residency of all of its pupils. No welfare, social security, government grants, or government loans will be provided to anyone who cannot provide proof of legal residency or citizenship.
Sixth, we must fully implement and modernize the e-verification law requiring employers to verify the legal status of their employees. Failure to do so would result in a substantial fine.
Seventh, completely revise and modernize the Immigration laws to make it easier, quicker, and less expensive for people who want to enter and stay in our country to do so legally and not feel so enticed to break our laws. We should expand the number of people who can immigrate here legally; particularly people with degrees from institutions of higher education.
In addition to the seven steps stated above, the immigration issue would be further clarified if the United States Supreme Court settled once and for all the issue of citizenship for a child born in the United States to parents in the country illegally. In the 1898 case, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the Supreme Court ruled that a child born to parents in the country legally was entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment. This case has been extended to children born to parents in the country illegally. However, there is a segment of our society who argues that extension is erroneous.
There is no easy answer to our illegal immigration problem and no answer will satisfy everyone. Nevertheless, a solution needs to be reached immediately. This issue is dividing our country when we need to be united. A common sense compromise by both sides is necessary.