Congress has failed in its obligation to control
Lax enforcement, arbitrary rules and welfare incentives need reform.
- Millions of people around the world long for the freedom, liberty and
opportunity they believe can only be found in the United States of
America. Every year, over a hundred thousand enter this country as legal
immigrants. Tens of thousands more take up residence illegally. It is
one of the central obligations of the federal government to govern
immigration. It many respects, it has failed.
- The overwhelming majority of immigrants seek and accomplish an
independent life that contributes to everyone's well being. They
undertake the complex and lengthy procedure to become legal, productive
residents - eventually citizens - of our nation. Most are selected for
admission on the basis of their skills, talents and family relations,
and are required to have sponsors who assume liability for their welfare
during the early years of their residence. Many, however, evade these
requirements under special rules established by Congress which are
arbitrary, capricious and racist.
- The largest group who benefit from special rules are those who win a
random lottery based on their country of origin. Over 50,000 immigrants
are granted dispensation from all the rules because they are residents
of specific nations. The foundation of this lottery is to increase the
"diversity" of the immigrant population, but the effect is
government discrimination based on ethnicity, race and numeric quotas.
These lottery immigrants are selected without regard to their capacity
to establish an independent life and none are required to have sponsors
who assume responsibility for their transition to a productive
existence. This legal form of special immigration must be abolished.
- Hundreds of illegal immigrations occur nearly every day, but not as a
result of "jumping the border" or bypassing normal entry
procedures. Over 80% of illegal immigrants are those who obtained a
legal visa for a temporary visit and never left the country. They
include immigrant workers, "exchange students" and
"vacation travelers". The immigration service makes no effort
to verify their departure and they commonly obtain forged papers which
cover up their illegal status. Increased border patrols and electric
fences will have no effect on the expansion of this visa immigrant
population. The most effective way of dealing with this problem is
adding a minor encumbrance to all visas: require a "return
liability" endorsement. Similar to a sponsorship, the visa would
require a citizen to assume responsibility for the visitor's compliance
with the terms of their temporary visitor status. The endorsement could
be issued by an employer, university, travel agent or any individual
citizen, directly or contracted through an independent insurance /
investigative service. Since the percentage of people who overstay their
visa is very small, the cost per endorsement should be minimal. The
endorser who fails their obligations would be liable for the costs of
apprehension and departure of the illegal visitor.
- The most important reform we can make is to eliminate the perverse
government incentives for illegal immigration. No government benefits
should accrue to someone who is a "special immigrant",
"visa overstay" or illegal immigrant. Nor should welfare be
granted to legal immigrants whose sponsors have assumed liability for
their well being. The simplest and most effective method of eliminating
the incentives for illegal immigration is to restrict all government
benefits to citizens. Requiring proof of citizenship prior to issuing
any welfare check is a minor burden on administrators which would
eliminate the perverse incentives for illegal immigration. It isn't a
guarantee against fraud, but it would reduce the burden of
naturalization enforcement and the tax load on productive citizens.
- Finally, we ought to restrict or eliminate the status of family
relationships as a major factor in legal immigration. This practice is
almost medieval in its logic, presuming that blood lines carry some
special privilege, over and above individual merit. Those who are
willing and able to sponsor family members will always have an
immigration advantage, but adding their relationship as a factor is a
distortion of what ought to be objective rules of admission. The
familial factor can frequently encourage social enclaves and cultural
isolation which discourages individual accomplishment and independence.
- Ethnic diversity is not a virtue or a vice, it is simply a fact of life.
When we treat everyone as an individual, worthy of earning our
admiration, respect and acceptance, we can ignore their national
origins, blood lines, and familial relationships. Government ought to do
the same when it sets the rules for legal immigration.