My perspective on the immigration system is that of a legal immigrant from Germany, a process that took from 1974-84 to complete, without a guaranteed outcome, as well as an active participant in the debate about immigration reform at all levels, from local to national.
The current state of affairs represents a mixed blessing for us. We are on the one hand encouraged by the bipartisan work of the Senate “Gang of Eight” and their proposed bill, while on the other hand, we’re witnessing a national disgrace as the United States has proved itself to be utterly inept at protecting its sovereign territory and deal with its domestic affairs, while insisting on influencing other nations around the globe.
This is the second time around because the broad 1986 Reagan Amnesty Act was meant to end illegal immigration for good. What happened since then leading to today is undignified for the most powerful nation on Earth.
We should not have to have this debate at this time. That it’s necessary is evidence of weakness, not strength.
Over the decades we, as legal immigrants have increasingly come to understand that we likely are the only ones who are naive and dumb about the process and its benefits.
Because of our noncontroversial status and relatively low numbers as legal immigrants, those of us who defend our path as correct, represent a greater liability than an asset and therefore we’re politically irrelevant.
This is best evidenced by the “compacts” in defense of present-day illegal immigrants between the largely liberal/humanitarian (Democrat) “give away — can’t do no wrong” position and the largely aggressive, growth at any price, the bigger the business the better (Republican) “for monetary gain only” lobby.
The United States sovereign (nonpartisan) “country of laws” lobby is largely absent or considered harsh in its demands. With the above statements about our perspective in mind, here are our fixes:
1. An unwavering and credible national commitment to never let this happen again and installation of all necessary safeguards to accommodate that outcome ahead of any deal addressing the present or future state of immigration. This will require as soon as possible the implementation of a National Real ID System for positive fraud-proof individual Identification of all people with legal status (citizens and others) in this country. It needs to be all inclusive to avoid profiling and should include all benefit eligibilities.
2. Modification to present unrestricted birthright citizenship status to eliminate future status anchor opportunities.
3. All “status-adjusted” illegal immigrants to be ineligible to use their adjusted status to become immigration anchors for relatives.
4. No special treatment for industry-specific illegal immigrants (example: agriculture workers) for fast track to citizenship or status adjustment. Illegality is universal!
5. A reliable infrastructure to provide vigorous border security, prosecution and removal/deportation.
6. Raise act of willful illegal entry into the United States to “felony” crime status.
7. No racial or heritage associated minority status classification or specially dedicated benefits for non U.S. citizens.
8 Universal mandated use of National Real ID or substitute fraud-proof E-Verify Employment Verification by/for all employees/employers (citizen/others).
9. Industry sector specific, demand-oriented, number-restricted, temporary guest worker visas. Eligibility for numbers and industry assessment made by proposed independent agency and input from members of U.S. Labor and Industry segment. If not done by an independent body, it will put the fox in charge of the hen house, leading to captive labor supplies for the biggest and best connected. Future guest workers are not to substitute but to supplement the domestic work force. Their pay should never be more than that of a comparable U.S. employee.
10. All future guest workers and their families should provide proof of self-sustainability and not be eligible for any public subsidies. Alternatively, employers could pay the difference between the customary wage and prevailing wage as an “adverse effect tax” to affected public entities.
Without a national commitment to the value and preservation of the status of “sovereign nation” and the implementation of necessary measures to guarantee this, all reform efforts are a waste of time and will do nothing to prevent us from revisiting the exact same issue again in an ever increasing weakened state.
This type of commitment will require sacrifice from many of us but would benefit all present and future legal U.S. Citizens regardless of political views.
Not doing so will eventually take all cherished rights and liberties away from all us. We reserve judgment until a new law is finalized and signed.
Jochen Engelke is a Basin City farmer.