Citizens beware -- the "Gang of Eight" immigration reform package, which now exceeds 1,000 pages, is a bureaucratic nightmare to rival the Affordable Care Act. (Maybe this time our Senators will read the bill "to find out what's in it" before voting.) Instead of issuing their own immigration reform legislation, Congress could have saved a lot of time and money by implementing the recommendations of an agency whose members have had "boots on the ground" and thus earned the right to speak to this issue.
In 2010 the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) accomplished the same mission as the current Congress, issuing their 16-page "A Proposal for Comprehensive Immigration Enforcement and Reform."1 Contrary to the Gang of Eight's reform package, the NAFBPO proposal emphasizes enforcement. And unlike most members of Congress, NAFBPO members have the experience to know what reforms are needed! I encourage all Congressmen, Senators, and other U.S. citizens to read the NAFBPO report, and then compare it to what the Gang of Eight has proposed.
I agree with NAFBPO that the first emphasis of immigration policy should be enforcement. The executive branch's failure to implement and enforce enacted immigration law has resulted in decades of illegal entry and millions of illegal aliens residing in our country. The Gang of Eight proposal will only perpetuate that problem. As Phyllis Schlafly points out in her March 19, 2013 article "Rules for Addressing Amnesty,"2 seven years ago (in 2006)
Congress enacted legislation to secure our southern border by building a fence. Yet that fence is still not completed! Similarly, we have visa systems in place, but foreigners who stay past the expiration date on their visas are not deported.
Besides the recommendations in the NAFBPO report (which should be adopted through individual bills rather than comprehensive reform legislation), Congress should implement the following provisions to address the impacts of guest worker programs to unemployed Americans and
"level the playing field" between American workers and foreigners:
- Require an employer to demonstrate there is no qualified American citizen for a job before recruiting for or hiring a foreign worker. Employers must be required to advertise locally or regionally (e.g., through Job Service) for a reasonable period of time (three weeks minimum).
- Require all employers to use E-verify to document legal employment status (work visa, permanent resident status, citizenship).
- Require the employer to pay state minimum wage and implement a means for verifying that this wage is being paid. (This will eliminate most employers' incentive to hire foreign workers.)
- Require the employer to write a letter to the prospective foreign worker guaranteeing employment of a specified nature and stating the duration of the position prior to a work visa being issued. (This extra "paper work" will further reduce employers' desire to hire foreign as opposed to American workers.)
- Before a work visa is issued, require the foreign worker (or the employer) to guarantee funds for transportation of the worker back to his or her home country when the work assignment is complete and the visa expires. (The worker must have the money saved for the trip to and from the employment site, or the employer must deduct that amount from wages and hold it in a savings account, or the employer must fund one or both trips to the work site.)
- Require the foreign worker to pay federal income tax (e.g. 10%), state income tax (e.g. 5-7%), and applicable local taxes, with no provision for tax returns or refunds. These taxes will serve as just compensation to the American people for the infrastructure foreign workers utilize while they are working and living in the United States: roads, bridges, police and fire protection, etc. (This provision will eliminate employers' tendency to pay foreign workers "under the table" with no tax accounting for either the employee or the employer. It will also reduce the workers' "take home pay," further reducing the incentive for coming to the U.S. in the first place.)
- Issue work visas to the foreign worker only, not his or her dependents. (Family members can be issued short-term tourist visas for temporary visits during the work visa holder's duration of work. The foreign worker can also make trips to his home country to see his family.) Eliminating visas for all dependents of the worker will reduce chain migration and dependency on services for health care, housing, and education for a spouse and minor children. Fewer foreign workers will be interested in coming to the U.S. if they must leave their families behind in order to work here.
- Require proof of U.S. citizenship to receive any social benefits that are paid for through federal or state taxes (e.g., Medicare, food stamps, WIC, Pell grants and subsidized loans, free school breakfast and lunch, and subsidized housing). This will reduce the influx of illegal aliens who come to the U.S. so they and their dependents can take advantage of "free" services - at legal taxpayers' expense. Require proof of citizenship or legal resident status to obtain a driver's license.
- Pass the Birthright Citizenship Act3, which clarifies that a person born on U.S. soil is only a citizen at birth if at least one parent owes allegiance to the United States. This will reduce the number of guest workers and illegal aliens who come here so they can have an "anchor baby."
As with all immigration legislation, there must be enforcement of the law, with reasonable penalties imposed on any visa holder or employer who does not obey the law!
The Gang of Eight immigration reform package clearly emphasizes amnesty rather than enforcement. Amnesty is wrong because illegal aliens have broken the law and stolen from the American people. They have faked their identities on social security cards, driver's licenses, and voter registration cards. They have taken our resources for education, housing, and health care without contributing taxes. (Some of them have even filed income tax returns to receive child tax and other credits!) And they have taken jobs that Americans need during a time of extended high unemployment. It is wrong to validate theft by exonerating illegal aliens while law-abiding legal immigrants and American citizens pay for their wrong-doing.
Every American and illegal alien needs to understand that amnesty has already been granted. Our nation has shown "grace" to illegal aliens by not arresting, fining, or imprisoning them for entering or remaining in the U.S. illegally. If we remove the incentives for them to come to and stay in the U.S. (jobs, schooling, welfare, health care, driver's licenses, housing, birthright citizenship), many of them will go home. (Illegal aliens have already migrated across state borders to leave states that are enforcing immigration law and move to states with cities of refuge or other leniency.) Illegal aliens can be given short-term amnesty (safe passage without fear of punishment) until they cross the border to return to their home countries. After that brief (e.g., three-month) window of amnesty expires, enforcement should begin in earnest, with the National Guard utilized to assist with border patrol and deportation if necessary. Illegal aliens figured out how to get across our border; they can figure out how to go home!
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