Variants of the expression “It's the economy, stupid” have become commonplace in American politics. This is a slight turn of phrase, adding “it’s” in front of the original phrase, “The economy, stupid!” coined by James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign.
However, instead of the economy, today, the phrase focuses the spotlight of public attention on the political controversy du jour. Examples include “It's the deficit, stupid!” or “It's the corporation, stupid!” or “It's ISIS, stupid!” In a British political satire The Thick of It, one of the characters writes a book titled, It's the Everything, Stupid. Now that is a phrase relevant to the political climate in America today.
In light of this, many today are shouting, “it’s the wall, stupid!” or “it’s illegal immigration, dummy!” based on a position taken by an unseemly, but popular Reality TV host turned presidential candidate.
A quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln suggests it is, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” But, to quote yet another current candidate, enough is enough! I find myself compelled to speak out on this subject. It is possible that my post will remove any doubt the reader has about me in this regard. Nevertheless, here goes.
In an earlier post, I detailed my opinion about the wisdom of building a 1,954 mile long wall across our southern border. A person of average intelligence should be able to determine that a wall is, at best, a speed bump on the road to immigration. At worst, it is only a visual aid. If we think it will stop those desperate to seek a better life, or to escape calamity, then we have not learned the lessons of history.
A belief in the efficacy of this proposed wall clearly demonstrates we have forgotten that, for more than a century, tens of thousands of people braved the North Atlantic, in what were very small wooden ships, for the chance of freedom and a better life. During the Irish migration, those ships became known as “coffin ships.” In order to maintain this sham, we must fail to take note of the fact that, in the past 50 years, many thousands of people overloaded small rafts and dinghy’s, or crawled onto pieces of wood and rubber, in an attempt to navigate the Florida straits, for that same shot at a better life.
Holding stubbornly to our faith in a wall as the solution to this problem forces us to turn a blind eye to current events in the eastern Mediterranean. And one more thing, this misplaced faith compels us to ignore the demonstrated failure of the iron curtain. Now that was a wall!
Let’s be clear, Jeb Bush was right when he said illegal immigration is all about love. Yes, there are those whose intent in crossing the border illegally is only to support a criminal enterprise, whether drug smuggling, human trafficking or otherwise. And, while many wish to ignore the fact, the truth is, regardless of the underlying reason, those who cross our border illegally, or who violate the terms of a work permit or visa, are breaking our laws. Of this, there can be no disagreement.
So, what do we do, other than to debate incessantly, to point fingers, to blame and accuse? Here’s a surprise. It’s not that difficult. I might even suggest, “it’s about a common sense solution, stupid!”
As Marco Rubio suggests, first and foremost, we must secure our borders. We must do that before we address overall immigration. But that doesn’t mean we should all run out, grabbing a brick hod on the way, and start building a wall. Yes, in urban areas, walls and fencing are appropriate. Erecting gates and barriers, complete with manned check points, across roads that traverse our border is also suitable. Increasing electronic surveillance, supplemented by aerial and ground patrolling is an absolute necessity.
It is not often that I agree with Mr. Trump, but he is correct on one point. A country without borders is not a country. We are not a nation unless we have and enforce borders. That said, real enforcement of our borders does not occur solely at the border. The real bulk of that effort occurs within our borders.
Border enforcement exists only if we enforce our immigration laws. Thus, I might add a corollary to Mr. Trump’s statement. If a country does not have laws, or refuses to enforce those laws, it is not a country. It is a collection of individuals spiraling into anarchy.
So here’s my plan to fix the snafu known as our illegal immigration problem. This plan is based on the following assumptions.
- First, a significant plurality, if not outright majority, of those here illegally, entered our country legally. However, like those least favored in-laws, many have overstayed their welcome, or at least their approved stay.
- Second, our unwillingness to enforce our laws, best demonstrated by the creation of sanctuary cities, or the issuance of executive orders, not only perpetuates the problem, it serves as an incentive to come here illegally.
- Third, our antiquated tax code, particularly payroll taxes, serves as an incentive to businesses to hire illegal immigrants and pay them “off-the-books”, further magnifying the problem.
- Finally, most elected officials would rather put an unyielding stake in the ground, in a blatant attempt to score some political points, rather than reach a consensus agreement on a common sense solution.
A. Secure the border.
- Announce to the world that, henceforth, America's borders are closed to illegal immigration.
- Build appropriate barriers, gates and checkpoints, not a "wall."
- Dramatically increase aerial and ground patrolling of our borders.
- Increase electronic surveillance of our borders.
- Arrest, detain and return those attempting to enter illegally.
- Document the identity, including fingerprinting and DNA of those caught entering illegally.
- Suspend all aid to countries that refuse the repatriation of those who have entered the US illegally.
B. Immediately begin to manage legal immigration.
- Create or expand electronic verification of all those entering.
- Implement an entry-exit visa tracking system.
- Enforce visa work permit length of stay.
C. Eliminate incentives to further illegal immigration.
- Immediately cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities.
- Immediately reform the tax code to eliminate the payroll tax, a leading contributor to “off-the-books” employment.
- Issue an executive order that anyone caught entering illegally following the enactment of these policies, shall be immediately deported and shall be forever banned from reentering the United States. This is a “one bite at the apple” program.
D. Provide an incentive to those here illegally to come out of the shadows.
- Issue an executive order requiring all employers to re-certify their workforce and report any workers who are not in the country legally. This process must be completed within 6 months.
- Issue an executive order that all aliens in the United States illegally must voluntarily turn themselves in. This process must be completed within 6 months.
- Issue a corollary order that, pending passage of controlling legislation, those who turn themselves in voluntarily will not be subject to automatic deportation.
- Issue a codicil that mandates deportation of anyone who does not voluntarily turn themselves in, should such a person be identified by any other legal means. Anyone so deported will be banned from ever reentering the country. Again, this is a “one bite at the apple” policy.
- Subject all those who turn themselves in to a thorough background check. Those who have not committed a crime, other than crossing into, or staying in America illegally, will be given documentation allowing them to stay until governing laws are passed.
- Those who pass a background check and are permitted to stay must register, including provision of fingerprints and a DNA sample.
- Require all who register and stay to report to an immigration office at least monthly, verifying residence address and employment status. Failure to do results in automatic deportation with no chance of reentry.
- Assess a penalty against those remaining. Give them time to pay it, but through payroll deduction.
- Deport all those identified as having committed a crime.
Once all of these programs are in place, the President should sit down with Congress and negotiate a comprehensive plan for immigration for the 21st century.
We get many of our liquid refreshment choices from other countries. Scotch from Scotland and Whiskey from Canada and Ireland. Beers and Ales from England and Germany. Tequila from Mexico. Rum from the Caribbean islands.
I am going to study up on immigration by exploring some of those beverages.