US Immigration Reform Plan A

Plan A

Currently we are playing a waiting game with a group of congressmen who are referred to as the “Gang of Eight.” They have already missed President Obama’s immigration reform bill deadline, so it’s anybody’s guess as to when to expect their proposed version of the bill. The Democrats want to tell America they are close to a consensus on the bill–but, as usual, the Republicans are putting the brakes on that happy announcement. Did we really expect congress to produce an immigration bill on time, considering they pushed us right up to the brink of the “fiscal cliff,” and failed miserably to pass a balanced budget? By now we should have all come to the realization that the immigration reform bill–or anything else that’s important to America–cannot be left up to congress to take care of. The whole reason we are in such a state of distress right now is the direct result of the dysfunctional attitudes congress has been displaying for decades. If they were capable of creating and passing competent and workable immigration legislation by now, they would have, and should have–many years ago. I have put forth five basic ingredients we need in order to protect our country, prop up our economy, and cultivate and protect the wealth of immigrants that want so desperately to receive a piece of the American dream. For any immigration plan to work, it needs to satisfy some basic requirements. I began with a much larger list of pie in the sky things I thought would be great to put into a new immigration bill. Then I began discarding anything that did not have a major negative impact on the plan after being removed. If the plan didn’t suffer after removing an idea, that idea didn’t need to remain in the plan. It may have been nice, but it wasn’t necessary. The remaining ingredients I have found to be necessary for the legislation to correct the problems, encourage participation, and not need immediate repair legislation. (We all know how long it could take to create that.)

The result is what I call, “Plan A.”

We need just six guiding principals for our future immigration legislation to have a profound and positive affect on our nation. Any future immigration bill we come up with needs to be: 1) Inexpensive 2) Easy 3) Accurate 4) Actionable 5) Taxable 6) Equality These are but guiding principals, and from here we can fill in the specifics with input from anyone else who feels that congress, if left alone, is bound to create a bigger mess than there already is right now.  If you think I missed an essential ingredient, or if you think some of the things I listed aren’t necessary, then says so in the comments. I will be watching the threads too, and if it looks like some good ideas are gaining some momentum, I will update this page, so if this is important to you, subscribe to this blog so you can be kept abreast of any changes, and any of the other posts on this topic that are soon to follow.  I will need more than just great numbers to alter items in this plan–I’ll need better ideas. I don’t think just one person can come up with something so important all by themselves. This is something we should do together. Let me briefly describe why these items are on this plan, and then in subsequent articles I’ll dive deeper into the particulars of each, so we can begin having an intelligent conversation and come to a consensus of what we actually need from Congress. As you’ll see below, this affects us all, so we need to make sure it affects us positively, not negatively.

Good for US

Good for Immigrants

Principals for good immigration reform:
X X Inexpensive
X X Easy
X Accurate
X X Actionable
X Taxable
X  X Equality

As you can see by the above table, this list benefits the United States more than the immigrant, and so it should. No nation should feel it was placed on this planet to care for all the world’s people. If some people wish to come here and live, they should contribute more to our society than they take out, just like most of us do ourselves.

There is a saying amongst lawyers and negotiators, “a contract is only as strong as the person who is least willing to abide by it.”

If the new legislation were only about doing good things for one of us–the immigrant, or America–it would fail immediately. Why go through all this work if it will ultimately get us nothing?  Any new legislation must benefit the immigrant well in order to attract and retain great people, just as wage and benefits policies attract and retain good employees.

Summary:

Our new immigration policy should be inexpensive to ensure 100% participation. It should also be self-supporting. We shouldn’t have to shoulder much, if any, of the costs with setting up and maintaining this program.  There are a host of other places we could put our money to good use.

Our immigration policy should also be easy to participate in, and easy to manage. The more complex the process–the more mistakes find their way into the product.  There should also be plenty of offices to process applicants so there is no 10-20-30 year backlog like the one that exists for many visas today.

Accuracy will make this legislation reliable, and therefore highly actionable. This needs to be well architected so the data we receive from the immigrants identifies them one-hundred percent, and allows us to use this data to ensure the best of the immigrants are received, and the worst are returned, or never admitted in the first place. Our security rests on the reliability that if someone leaves the country, they cannot return under a different identity and get away with it.

Actionable means we can do things with the data and information we obtain from our immigrants. We can ensure compliance and take decisive actions against persons not willing to abide by the simple and inexpensive rules they must follow in order to receive some of the keys to the kingdom we will offer them to do so. It will also protect the immigrant against people and organizations who wish to take advantage of them. Currently they are under-represented and suffer from many forms of abuse. If we protect the immigrants, they should be grateful, willing, and downright thankful to participate in this simple and highly affordable program. It will be to all our best interests for this to succeed.

Taxable is a great way for this program to pay for itself. This should be above and beyond what citizens are required to pay. This money should be earmarked to be used solely for the set-up and maintenance of the immigration program, and any special services or programs they might require.

Without Equality, an immigrant will find this whole process less than fulfilling and almost certainly harmful.  If they are not 100% a part of our community, they will have no vested interest in helping us succeed. They could go back home at any time and compete against us, or at the very least help another country’s economy.

Every US citizen needs to be equal in the eyes of the law and our government. If there is among us a sub-class of citizen who lives among us, works with us and pays their fair share of taxes, but who cannot vote or otherwise fully participate in their destiny, we will have failed to give all of our citizens equal access to the American Dream. If they can’t vote, they would be vulnerable to be treated like second class citizens by our government, police, and other institutions. If we have learned nothing else from our civil rights era, we should have at least learned this.

Taxation without representation was one of the precursors to our struggle for independence from England. If not being able to control our own destiny was a good enough reason to rebel against an oppressive government and seek our own self-determined solution, then why would we subjugate a portion of our society to suffer that same fate? This would be about as un-American an act as we could possibly inflict against a part of our society.

Some of the conservatives in the audience will notice there is no mention of border security in this bill. There are two very sound reasons for this:

1)   The border is more secure now than at any time in our history. More resources, money and manpower have been shifted to the border than during any other time in our history. As a result of our extensive efforts to stop people at the border, we are apprehending a record low level of  people not seen since 1971.  People crying about securing the border before working on any new immigration bill are really just stalling. No border in the history of the world has ever been 100% secure, and our border with Mexico has never been more secure than it is right now.

2)   When you focus on compliance and making it easy and financially accessible and ultimately highly beneficial for everyone to participate, the need for prevention will be greatly reduced. As compliance passes 80% the need for our current border forces will be reduced, and the remaining force’s day to day activities will shift to rounding up drug runners and criminals, as all those who have nothing to hide will rather do things the easy, inexpensive, legal way. Catching fewer people should be easier than trying to stem the tide of a million immigrants a year, so our border security should even increase, while we reduce our expenses and shift our resources where they will be needed most.

If we begin here, we can begin to create a program that is good for the both the US, and the immigrant, is weighted more towards benefiting us, can be easily (relatively speaking) setup and maintained, won’t cost us anything, and quite possibly help us monetize and protect a resource of income, spending, and taxes, as well as protect and nourish a great part of our communities and culture.  With the emerging markets producing vastly more competition around the world, we could use all the help we can get. Immigrants of all kinds are needed to keep us leading the world in engineering, innovation, economy, and quality of life.

     Lastly,

The only thing I loathe more than censorship is hateful comments that contribute nothing to the conversation. The only comments that will be removed are the hateful, non-helpful ones, (trolls) and people who love to post the same comment over and over and over and over and over. . . Please remember, any jerk can complain, and most usually do, but only those who genuinely care about helping, will offer suggestions as to how to make something better.

We need to hurry. Congress could surprise us and come up with something sooner than later. If that happens, the compromises that inevitably will find their way into the bill will likely cripple it, and hinder any future progress we might otherwise enjoy.

So tell me, do you have confidence in our government to put forth a well thought out, truly beneficial and successful bill that will propel our country forward for years to come?

Coming up Next: Why “Inexpensive” is important enough to be on this list

Join the conversation now, before we have to suffer through what congress manages to cobble together, for the next thirty years.

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