Perhaps no topic in this pre-show before the pre-show of a pre-show of a presidential election is as hot button as immigration. After Donald Trump famously trumpeted his immigration policy – a big impenetrable wall along the southern border (because the Great Wall of China showed us that those work so well) – every Republican candidate in the field seemed eager to scream their plan as loudly as possible through the media storm.
But in the absence of a logical solution, I would like to present my plan for immigration, one that hopefully has a bit more substance than “the greatest wall you’ve ever seen.”
My plan is a three-pronged response: security, removal of sanctuary cities, and assimilation.
Building a wall of the magnitude that Trump is proposing would be next to impossible, and making it impenetrable would be a task not even James Bond could take on.
Don’t believe me? Head over to Israel, where billions have been spent securing a border not even one percent the length of the American-Mexican border. However, underground tunnels ferrying materials and people into the Gaza Strip still make their way through despite the best efforts of Israeli security forces.
If even the industrious Israelis can’t secure such a short border, it is pretty improbable that the United States with its recent track record in building infrastructure (I’m looking at you, Bay Bridge) would fare any better, even with a President Trump in the White House.
My solution would be much simpler: a shorter and far less costly wall made of cement to dignify our borders in both the North and South. While our attention often shifts towards Mexico when we think of immigration, it is just as important to remember that America shares an even longer border with Canada.
Would this be a modern take on the Great Wall of China? No, it doesn’t have to be. We just need enough protection to clearly delineate what is ours and what is theirs.
Get Rid of Sanctuary Cities
Ah, yes, the favorite Trump-Bush punchline of the summer. The fact is that sanctuary cities are wrong. For a city government to knowingly and blatantly ignore the federal government’s orders is not just egregious, but tantamount to a national betrayal. Cities and states should be mandated to announce any illegal arrivals they have, and it should be up to the federal government whether or not to post charges on those involved.
Believe it or not, the vast majority of cases the states do tell the federal government about aren’t dealt with because the federal government under presidential orders doesn’t prioritize catching illegal aliens.
How cruel, you might say, to not give illegal aliens a safe haven. But you would be wrong because the most important part of a comprehensive immigration reform package won’t be a wall and it won’t be sanctuary cities – it will be assimilation.
Assimilate into American Society
America is a nation of immigrants. They were told that with hard work and perseverance, they could climb to the top of society. This is often called the American Dream. While I can’t relate personally to this point of view, both of my parents came to this country as poor immigrants.
Part of what makes America so great is that we are able to take people with so many different backgrounds and life experiences and combine them into a unique amalgamized culture.
A smarter way to go about this than to deport all 11 million illegal residents (Mr. Trump, since your airline went bankrupt, I think I should remind you that you, too, found it pretty hard to move a couple jets, let alone a fleet of aircraft capable of ferrying the population of a small island nation, hundreds of miles) would be to provide them with a path to citizenship.
Should they get a free walk into the country and a “Welcome to the USA” swag bag their first day? No.
But it would be far more efficient to allow them to pay back taxes (a special division in the IRS would be needed to conduct these investigations) and put them on the regular immigration list. Since they are already living in America, they should be given a special type of green card that allows them to stay in the country until they have fully paid their back taxes.
After their taxes are fulfilled, they should get provisional citizenship contingent on their not having any felonies and paying their taxes on time and for the full amount for the following five years. After that they should be granted citizenship.
America is a country founded by immigrants. Our national philosophy for a generation has been to absorb those who are cast out by other nations. With the drug wars in Central America making life all but unlivable and America still providing an enviable respite from their (Central American) home nations, it’s time that we forget our isolationist impulses and accept those from around the world because, logistically, Trump’s plan isn’t a solution.