We need comprehensive immigration reform.
In 1986, Congress passed and President Reagan signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the United States and making it illegal to hire or recruit undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, the documentation required to work legally was easily forged, and today there are over 10 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Here’s where I stand:
I believe we need comprehensive immigration reform.
The best way to deal with illegal immigration is to enforce – actually enforce – the law at the worksite. No wall is high enough to keep people from coming over it – or under it – if there are jobs waiting on the other side.
- Employers who disregard the law should be actually punished – with fines and, if necessary, incarceration.
- Worker identification should be truly tamper-proof. Fortunately, we have better technology than we did in 1986, so that goal is in reach with the help of biometrics. Of course, we must safeguard our civil liberties and privacy.
I don’t believe it’s practical to deport the 10-12 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. And I don’t believe in breaking up families. Instead, we should look to bring them out of the shadows and put them on a path to citizenship, providing that they:
- have been working
- have paid taxes
- have not committed any crimes since coming to this country
- speak, or are learning to speak, English
- pay a nominal fine
We should also ensure that those immigrants currently in the process of becoming citizens are not disadvantaged by these reforms.
I support guest worker programs for seasonal jobs. Last year, we saw crops go un-harvested in the Northwest because of the stalemate on immigration reform. But I am leery of guest worker programs that would create a permanent underclass of exploited workers or drive down the wages of American workers.
Finally, we should re-examine the economic and trade policies that have contributed to illegal immigration. Working to improve economic conditions in Mexico, which we’ve tried and failed to do with NAFTA, could help reduce the incentive many have to attempt to enter the United States illegally.