The way that the debate on immigration is going, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to solve this monumental social crisis. Our problem is that people debating the issue are far more interested in attacking their opponents than in solving the issue. For example, Reach Upwards tried writing a post about illegal immigration. He immediately gets a reply that tries to frame the post as anti-immigrant. Being against illegal immigration does not make a person anti-immigrant. Personally, I am opposed to illegal immigration because it creates an exploitable underclass. Having an exploitable underclass in our society allows negative elements in our society to undermine our society.
With this in mind, I will write Kevin's very simple and clear method to handling the undocumented worker crisis:
There are two pools of people we need to think about in an immigration debate. The first is the large line of people wanting to migrate into the country legally. There is a second pool of people who are in the US without permission. Immigration policies should be geared toward balancing the needs of these two groups. There should be a preference to people who are going through the legal process.
The first step in solving the problem is to measure it. The people who are trying to immigrate legally are super easy to measure. They willingly fill out forms, stand in lines and give accurate contact information.
Our immigration system should give preference to people in legal channels. For example, we might give people in the legal channel twice the chance of getting approval to a person who crossed the border illegally.
The challenge is documenting the undocumented. To handle this challenge we should start by creating a documentation process. This process would not be handled by the INS. It could be handled by the Census bureau, drivers license divisions or other such agency. The documentation is at a level below a work permit or amnesty. The primary goal of the documentation is to identify people and for the people to state their intent. The documentation should take biometrics, such as a finger print, or snippet of hair for DNA analysis.
The documentation process should include both negative and positive incentives.
The first goal is to document the undocumented. I think this is what Bush is trying to do with the worker program. I would actually make it simpler. We should have documentation program. We should require everyone who is in the country to get documentation. The documentation would include biometrics (like finger prints). It would ask for the person to express their intent. Do they wish to migrate to the US or are they here temporarily. The documentation program would have to have both positive and negative incentives. The data from the documentation program should not be available to law enforcement. You might give people a one month visa for getting the documentation.
To help give incentive to getting the documentation, we should increase the penalties for people who fail to get documentation.
Once we have measured the problem we should then set liberal immigration and work permit quotas.
We would then use a lottery mechanism based on documentation to let people into the country. We should also establish an repatriation program for the people who lost the lottery so that they can find a new home in an orderly manner.
The process of documentation followed by a lottery and repatriation service is not amnesty. The program is not anti-immigrant as it must be built on a liberal immigration quota. By weighing the needs of the people in legal channels over those who crossed the border illegally, the mechanism rewards law abiding behaviour.
Since this process includes greater penalties for not getting documentation, it punishes illegal behavior.
The whole goal of the documenting the undocumented process is to get all of the people in this immigration mess onto a path that will set them up for a better future either in the United States or outside the United States.
There are two other important issues that we must address. We need to greatly curtail the influence that national and local politicians have in granting visas and immigration permits. The second thing is that we should get rid of the policy where having a baby in the US immediately qualifies the mother and child for immigration status. Our world is overpopulated, we need to get rid of artificial incentives for people to have children.