Our immigration system must secure our borders and enforce our laws
The story of America is the story of immigration. Evan McMullin’s family left Ireland in the 1600s to seek a better life in the New World. Part of his mother’s family fled Poland because of the Nazi menace.
The country we love was built by immigrants. Yet while we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. We must preserve our sovereignty, our security, and the rule of law.
We also need a president who will enforce the law instead of forcing through an illegal amnesty by executive order. Nor should “sanctuary cities” be able to refuse cooperation with the federal enforcement efforts.
The path to reform begins with securing our borders. Once they are secured, there should be a process of earned legalization for the illegal immigrants who are already here. There is simply no efficient way to deport 11 million individuals; doing so would break apart families and likely cost $100 billion. Furthermore, legalization is not amnesty.
While addressing illegal immigration, it is vital to remember that legal immigration is one of America’s greatest strengths. Immigrants and their children have a long record of hard work, starting businesses, and creating jobs. Still, we need to reform the legal immigration system so that it prioritizes American interests and security, including the protection of workers from low-wage, low-skill competition.
There should be a robust debate about immigration, but there should be no place for the kind of hateful and divisive rhetoric frequently on display in this campaign.
Securing the Border
To secure the border, we need more manpower, better technology, and—in some places—walls. First, the government should hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents. Second, the government should invest in advanced sensing and surveillance technologies, including cameras. Finally, there are several hundred miles of the southern border where walls are being built and must be completed. However, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to build a wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico—and if someone says Mexico is going to pay for it, they may also try to sell you a degree from Trump University.
Hillary Clinton promises that in her first 100 days, she would introduce an immigration reform bill that would offer full citizenship to those who are here illegally. She has made clear that securing the border first is not a requirement for moving forward with her agenda.
Enforcing the Law
The incentive that attracts illegal immigrants to the United States is the opportunity to work. To reduce that incentive, employers should be required to use the eVerify system, which was designed to help them determine if job applicants are in the country legally. “Sanctuary cities” must follow the law as well, or face the cut off of federal funding.
Above all, the president must obey the law. President Obama’s executive amnesties in 2012 and 2014 sought to place more than five million illegal immigrants beyond the reach of law enforcement. This year, however, a federal judge struck down the amnesties and the Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue.
A president who respects the Constitution knows that only Congress can make the law; executive amnesties violate this principle. Even so, Hillary Clinton says that Obama did the right thing and she will try to do it again. She even wants to extend the benefits of Obamacare to illegal immigrants.
Earning Legal Status
Deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is simply not practical. It would likely cost more than $100 billion and force the federal government to act in an intrusive manner that would violate the privacy of both citizens and legal residents. Deportation would also break up families, hurting children who are not responsible for their parents’ actions. Criminals, however, would still be subject to deportation.
The first step toward earning legal status is for all those who are here illegally to come forward and register themselves. Next they would pay an application fee and a fine, undergo a background check, and demonstrate competence in English. If they do those things, they would get a temporary work and residence permit, but would not be eligible for welfare or entitlement programs. If they obey the law and pay their taxes for several years, they could apply for permanent residency.
This is not amnesty; amnesty is when lawbreakers get something for nothing. Evan’s approach requires every illegal immigrant to earn the right to stay here.
Reforming Legal Immigration
Our country’s immigration policy should serve its economic interests. The best and brightest from all over the world want to live and work in America, yet the current immigration system mistakenly prioritizes the reunification of extended families.
Immigrants founded forty percent of the American companies in the Fortune 500. They also founded one half of Silicon Valley’s most successful start-ups. In other words, they help create high-quality jobs for all Americans.
The effect of current policy, which focuses on family reunification, is to encourage the arrival of those with less education, fewer skills, and little savings. This creates competition for American workers who don’t have the advantage of a college education and already face the greatest challenges in today’s high-tech economy.
Another problem is the misuse of programs, such as the H-1B visa, that are designed to attract the best and brightest. Instead, companies may use these programs to find cheaper replacements for skilled American workers. We need to make sure that all our immigration programs are being used in good faith.
The way that we deal with immigration will have a profound impact on our identity as Americans. We must be careful to preserve our nation’s unity and commitment to fairness. At the same time, our debates and our policies should reflect the civility and tolerance that helped forge a nation out of immigrants from every nation on earth. By replacing divisive rhetoric with genuine action to secure the border, we can work towards immigration reform that makes America safer, fairer, and more prosperous.