June 3, 2007

I’ve sort of felt like staying on the sidelines since the announcement of that bi-partisan “comprehensive immigration reform” agreement hammered out by members of the U.S. Senate two weeks ago. It’s not that I don’t feel strongly opposed to the plan and digusted (although not surprised) at both President Bush’s announced support for it and his criticism of conservatives for not going along with it in lockstep – something, BTW, that amounts to a political death wish on his part. Only an arrogant and/or aloof, tone-deaf White House could not have foreseen the uproar by the President’s base and conservatives out there, but I’ve come to believe this President will probably go down in history as one of the most incompetent chiefs of state that has ever occupied the White House – something that no less an authority and historian like Newt Gingrich has said himself.

My main problem with the whole idea of “comprehensive immigration” is the fact that those who have illegally entered our country – whether it comes from north or south, I don’t care – are being given preferential treatment over those who come to this country legally and try and work within the system to become American citizens on their own. My good friend from Louisville, Marcos Lorenzo, came here from Cuba, got his work visa and worked his ass off to the point where he is now owner of Louisville’s finest Cuban restaurant and a proud U.S. citizen. If my good friend and former co-worker Karthik (from India) is not a U.S. citizen (he’s here on a H1B visa), his own preference for self-reliance and wanting to “play by the rules” remains the same. Neither Marcos or Karthik have ever asked for any handouts – and never would – and it is stories and journeys like theirs that attest to all that is good about this country and those who want to share in their little corner of the “American dream”.

I have no doubt that there are those who have crossed our southern border illegally who want the same; but it’s my sense that the majority of those here illegally pretty much want only to work hard and make money. In both cases, there should be some kind of arrangement that meets the unique needs of the U.S. econonmy and business climate down here, while providing a means where everyone knows how the game is going to be played and then follow the rules.

I don’t know how or why the whole debate has descended into this whole mess of accusing people of being xenophobic or racist – although given the stakes at work here, I’m not surprised – but it seems to me that if a country is going to stay a country, it has to have laws, and those who live within its borders have to abide by those laws. And while I hate the whole idea of giving the government any additional responsibility for the implementation of a new program, here’s The Great White Shank’s four-point plan for immigration reform:

1) The government provide everyone with a national ID card (green in color) for all current U.S. citizens. This card will also serve as a form of ID that must be presented for voting in any kind of national election.

2) Any head of a household who has come here, either illegally or legally, with the intention of becoming a U.S. citizen must file an application for same within some designated three-month period. Included on that application will be the following: a) when they came here; b) what work they have been doing since arriving; c) all the members of their family. Once approved, these people will be given a temporary ID card (yellow in color) that will enable everyone to enter a lottery by which some to-be determined number of applicants will be given American citizenship annually, upon which they will receive their national green ID card. How states want to handle the issue of benefits to those in this category – drivers licenses, health care, schooling, state programs, etc. will be up to them.

3) Any head of a household who has come here illegally and doesn’t wish to become a U.S. citizen must file a guest resident application for same within some designated three-month period. Guest residents will be given a red ID card and must reapply every two years. Those in this category will not be able to vote in any kind of elections, state or federal; neither will they have access to any federal government benefit programs. How states want to handle the issue of benefits to those in this category will also be up to them.

4) After a pre-determined date, anyone found without a valid green, yellow, or red ID card in their possession may be subject to immediate deportation based on the circumstances involved.

If you combine such a program with a tightening up of the borders, it seems to me this could work pretty well. Those who are here and have jobs can keep them, and it removes the stigma of illegal vs. legal residents. The point is, any country should be able to know at any time who is here legally and do all it can to reduce the number of people who are here illegally. I’m sure there are some flaws or weakenesses in such a program, but heck, anything would be better than the chaos we have now.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:47 | Comments Off on The Immigration Debate
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