Last night's Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas was the best yet for candidates pledging tougher action against illegal immigration. (See our web editor Chris Chmielenski's live blog and news summary atwww.NumbersUSA.com.)
But all of the candidates remain somewhat tongue-tied when it comes to an overall, coherent plan that would resolve most of our country's illegal immigration problems.
The below plan is simple, reasonable and achievable. A candidate could win the hearts and admiration of a lot of voters by adopting the plan and learning to articulate it.
Please do what you can to deliver this 5-step plan to your favorite presidential candidate(s) -- including the current President. On our Presidential Candidates Grid, you can click on any photo to see the contact information for each:
'SECURING THE BORDERS' NOT NEARLY ENOUGH -- 'REVERSING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION' IS GOAL
The federal government's goal with respect to illegal immigration should be to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in our country, over time and in an orderly and systematic way, until the number is as low as it feasibly can be.
Stopping illegal immigration isn't enough. Securing the borders isn't enough.
The country has to cause the millions of illegal aliens in the country to go back home -- so that the United States becomes a net exporter of illegal aliens each year, instead of a net importer of illegal aliens each year.
A responsible approach to illegal immigration would seek to make the number of illegal aliens who leave the country annually greater than the number who enter the country annually. Experts who study the issue believe that we could achieve a net outflow between one million and two million per year by implementing or enhancing a handful of measures that are already known to be effective, and in fact are largely premised on existing law. Namely:
- turning off the jobs magnet by requiring workplace verification of legal status (i.e., requiring all employers to use the existing but not-yet-mandatory program known as E-Verify);
- turning off various other magnets such as in-state tuition, drivers licenses and birthright citizenship;
- building an effective, physical fence on the Mexican border;
- deploying a reliable check-in/check-out system for visitors to the United States (i.e., fixing the current program known as US VISIT); and
- enforcing existing deportation laws to perhaps double the effect of current enforcement.
These five measures alone should reduce our illegal alien population by half in less than six years. Let us consider each measure in turn.
THE 5 STEPS
Turning off the jobs magnet.
By far the most important means of reversing illegal immigration is to stop illegal aliens from holding jobs. Without jobs, most illegal aliens will find it difficult to support themselves and will return home.
Candidates would do well to endorse House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith's Legal Workforce Act because it does more than require E-Verify for new hires and sets up systems for identifying and firing illegal aliens who have obtained jobs with stolen identities.
We need to hear candidates pledge as President to fully enforce every aspect of this legislation.
Turning off other magnets.
For the same reason the jobs magnet should be turned off, so too should all the other magnets. One example is in-state tuition for illegal aliens. There are others such as the current privilege of not paying for health care in hospitals. The biggest, however, is birthright citizenship: the granting of American citizenship to a child merely because he or she was born here, even if to illegal alien parents.
Building an effective, physical fence.
Effective, physical fencing along the Mexican border (i.e., a wall where that is appropriate, or a double-fence with a barrier road between the fences where that is appropriate) is a well-established and bi-partisan idea. Congress has already authorized the building of an effective, physical fence along about 700 miles of the 2000-mile southern border. Building that 700-mile stretch of fence is a good start. An even better policy would build 1,000 miles of effective fencing encompassing the entire 800-mile ground border between San Diego and El Paso, plus another 200 miles of the most needed river border in Texas. As a practical matter, most experts believe it is not necessary to fence the entire 2,000-mile southern border, but that theory can be tested over time. If 1,000 miles of fencing proves insufficient, we can build more.
And to be effective, fencing must have the appropriate level of Border Patrol and detection technology.
Deploying a check-in/check-out system.
30-40% of illegal aliens first enter the United States on legal visas and then overstay. Although Congress authorized a check-in and check-out system in 1996, no President has fully implemented it. The current US-VISIT system, for example, makes virtually no effort to have the 45 million foreign visitors each year check out. And Congress exempts most Canadians and Mexicans. The problems with US-VISIT can all be fixed without undue expense or genuine controversy.
Enforcing existing deportation laws to perhaps double the effects of current enforcement.
Deportations reduce our illegal alien population directly. They also discourage illegal entry into the United States in the first place, and they encourage illegal aliens already here to leave voluntarily. As of now, we deport less than 4% of the illegal alien population each year (despite 100% of that population being legally eligible for deportation). Under current policy, large numbers of people who are identified by law enforcement as probable illegal aliens are never placed into deportation proceedings. And large numbers of those who are subjected to proceedings and ordered deported abscond or are otherwise allowed by the federal government to avoid their deportation orders. A President could perhaps double the number of illegal aliens who leave the country as a result of existing detection without any change in law by Congress by increasing cooperation between local law enforcement and the feds, by reducing the opportunities for illegal aliens to abscond after deportaton orders and by requesting that Congress provide more funds for ICE agents, immigration judges and detention capacity.
When U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Tex.) chaired President Clinton's commission on immigration, she aptly summarized the need for deportations to be part of improved immigration policy: "Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave. ... (F)or the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."
There you have it:
5 EASY STEPS A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE COULD PROMISE TO REVERSE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
ROY BECK is the CEO & Founder of NumbersUSA