Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pathway to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants

Out POTUS-wannabes are making a lot of press about illegal immigration and a pathway to citizenship for illegals.  Most seem to want to give the illegals a pass on their law-breaking, calling it amnesty.  And they believe this is a first step toward citizenship.  In one regard, they are right, for someone to become a citizen, they must first find themselves here legally.

What all this amnesty chatter ignores is that there is a viable pathway to US Citizenship for illegal immigrants.  The "amnesty" crowd seems to ignore this existing pathway in favor of their disregard for the rule of law, in favor of the "we must be kind at all costs" soft-headed thinking.

The path is simple, but not easy.  I have outlined the steps below:

1) Return to the country of your origin.
2) While in the country of your origin, apply for a visa to the US
3) After entering the country legally, and while the visa is still in effect, apply for US Citizenship.
4) Follow the directions of the US to obtain legal citizenship
5) Obey the laws of the US and the state(s) where you live while in the US

It really isn't as complicated as all the politicians make it out to be.  However, I will admit it isn't easy.

In addition to requiring all aliens to enter the US legally, I believe there are several reforms that should be made to current US immigration laws.  Before I offer my reforms, it is useful for people to understand how we went from "send me your poor, your huddled masses" on the Statue of Liberty to the state now where a company has to prove (under the H1B visa program) that there are no qualified US applicants for a job before they can hire someone with an H1B Visa.

According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, but a very convenient one), naturalization (the process of becoming a citizen) was written into the Constitution.  This means it was considered a fundamental enough issue that they didn't even wait to put it into The Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution).
"The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the Constitution expressly gives the United States Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization."
Even though they made mention of naturalization within the actual Constitution, they did not define how it would be done.  Rather, they left that to be written up as (easily changeable) laws to be enacted (and altered) by Congress.  I am guessing, they recognized that naturalization laws might need to be more reactive to the needs of the country than is allowed by making amendments to the Constitution.
Wikipedia goes on to explain the general structure of the laws that followed.
"Pursuant to this power, Congress in 1790 passed the first naturalization law for the United States, the Naturalization Act of 1790. The law enabled those who had resided in the country for two years and had kept their current state of residence for a year to apply for citizenship. However it restricted naturalization to "free white persons" of "good moral character"."
We can see in the limitation to "free white persons" that the slavery issue was very much on the minds of our Congress in 1790 and that immigration law was used from the start to maintain certain elements of the current situation that were deemed important at the time.  Giving non-whites citizenship could tip things at the ballot box.  Anything that affected the functioning of slavery had both economic and racial impacts.  
Five years later, they made more changes.  And again three years after that.  Both times they made it harder for people to become citizens by increasing the period of probation.  Presumably, this was to prevent criminals from coming here and then becoming citizens.
"The Naturalization Act of 1795 increased the residency requirement to five years residence and added a requirement to give a three years notice of intention to apply for citizenship, and the Naturalization Act of 1798 further increased the residency requirement to 14 years and required five years notice of intent to apply for citizenship."
"The Naturalization Law of 1802 repealed the Naturalization Act of 1798.
"The act of 1802 was the last major piece of naturalization legislation during the 19th century. A number of minor revisions were introduced, but these merely altered or clarified details of evidence and certification without changing the basic nature of the admission procedure. The most important of these revisions occurred in 1855, when citizenship was automatically granted to alien wives of U.S. citizens (10 Stat. 604), and in 1870, when the naturalization process was opened to persons of African descent (16 Stat. 254)."
Once the Civil War was ended we see that the laws were amended to align with the principles underlying the Emancipation Proclamation. 
"The Fourteenth Amendment, passed in 1868, protects children born in the United States. The phrase: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside" was interpreted by the Supreme Court in the 1898 case United States v. Wong Kim Ark as covering everyone born in the U.S. regardless of the parents' citizenship, with the exception of the children of diplomats. See the articles jus soli (birthplace) and jus sanguinis (bloodline) for further discussion.
"In 1870, the law was broadened to allow African Americans to be naturalized. Asian immigrants were excluded from naturalization but not from living in the United States. There were also significant restrictions on some Asians at the state level; in California, for example, non-citizen Asians were not allowed to own land."
Again, we see that immigration law was used to maintain the status quo and "protect" the established against the encroachments of the newcomers.  Wikipedia goes on...
"After the immigration of 123,000 Chinese in the 1870s, who joined the 105,000 who had immigrated between 1850 and 1870, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which targeted a single ethnic group by specifically limiting further Chinese immigration. Chinese had immigrated to the Western United States as a result of unsettled conditions in China, the availability of jobs working on railroads, and the Gold Rush that was going on at that time in California. The xenophobic "Yellow Peril" expression became popular to justify racism against Asians.
"The act excluded Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States for ten years and was the first immigration law passed by Congress. Laborers in the United States and laborers with work visas received a certificate of residency and were allowed to travel in and out of the United States. Amendments made in 1884 tightened the provisions that allowed previous immigrants to leave and return, and clarified that the law applied to ethnic Chinese regardless of their country of origin. The act was renewed in 1892 by the Geary Act for another ten years, and in 1902 with no terminal date. It was repealed in 1943, although large scale Chinese immigration did not occur until 1965."
It is interesting to note that the law was used to allow for the inflow of cheap labor, without granting them the benefits of citizenship.  I am going to make a guess here and suggest that the repeal  in 1943 had a lot to do with China being our ally against Japan in World War II.  So, the repeal was probably a political issue, rather than a labor and economic issue.
What Wikipedia skips over in this article is the implementation in 1921 of immigration quotas.  After World War I a lot of Southern European and Eastern European people came to the US to escape the recession that hit Europe.  The immigration quotas established in 1924 were designed to specifically limit, but not totally prohibit, immigration from these areas of Europe.  Jews too were singled out for discrimination.  However, Arabs and Asians were totally prohibited, because the Act disallowed migration of anyone not elegible to become a citizen.
The 1924 Act also gave the State Department its first role in immigration, establishing the Consular Visa system we use today.    
Apparently, the motives were politcal, ethnic and economic.  In addition to trying to limit cheap labor and competition for jobs, there was a lot of fear that these immigrants might support communist ("Bolshevik") movements in the US and foment a revolution such as happened in Russia.  The ethnic element was expressly acknowledged in a State Department communication which mentioned preserving the homogenity of the American character. 
I could go on, but I think this information provides enough data points to establish the fact that immigration policies in the US have always been about race, economics and politics.  That is as true today as it was in 1870.
Rather than engaging in a fruitless argument about how the motives should be changed (an attempt to change human nature), instead, let's look at how those underlying factors are going to play out in the next few years and adjust our immigration policy proactively to manage those issues.
Labor - Regardless of complaints to the contrary, most immigrants don't take jobs from citizens.  The citizens aren't applying for jobs that immigrants take.  They prefer to sit at home and collect welfare instead of cleaning houses and tending yards for rich people or cleaning offices, and trimming bushes for businesses.  Too many of our natural born citizens today think that hard work and low pay are somehow beneath their dignity.  They remind me of the idle rich and nobility of Europe, only without the money or the fancy titles.  
Realistically speaking our birth rate is declining along with that of every other industrialized nation in the world.  Our labor pool is not large enough to support the boomers who are retiring.  Expanding the labor pool is the easiest "fix" for Social Security.  Just like any other Ponzi Scheme if you get more contributors to Social Security you can keep paying benefits to the early entrants into the scam.
Economics - I already mentioned the benefits to Social Security from increasing our labor pool with legal immigrants.  Added to that is the fact that a great many immigrants to this country start small businesses.  Often, they open them to serve their own ethnic community initially, but they also expand into the community at large.  Small businesses are the largest employer in our country and provide the greatest amount of economic fuel than all the big businesses together.  
Did you know that immigrants are four times more likely to become millionaires than natural born citizens of this country?  And they do it by starting small businesses.
Race - I believe the argument for "racial purity" was lost a long time ago in the US (even before the Civil War) and it is both a lousy and immoral argument.  In my opinion there is no place in the teachings of Christ for racism.  While it is true that Christ limited his ministry to the Jews, there were covenant reasons for that.  And, after his resurrection, he commanded his Apostles to "go into all the world," thus lifting any further prohibition against allowing non-jews to enter the waters of baptism.
In this country, when Texas was liberated from Mexico and later when the Southwest was taken from Mexico, we effectively made all those hispanics in those areas into US citizens.  From that point on, we were no longer truly an "anglo-saxon" nation.  A significant portion of the US population is hispanic by descent and were never immigrants.  The whole community character of the Southwest US and California is heavily influenced by the hispanic culture that is native to that area.
Immigration, legal and illegal, has strengthened that sub-cultural identity and will continue to do so.  We can either follow the path of brutal Balkan nations and opt for ethnic cleansing and mass murder, or embrace our American ideals and assimilate this segment fully into our national tapestry and "Americanize" it.
Economic and political conditions in Mexico as well as the rest of Central and South America will not change for the better any time soon.  The corruption and drug cartel wars will continue to make life for ordinary working-class folks perilous for the forseeable future, until the rule of law can truly be established there.  Given that threat to life and liberty, many will continue to seek the greener grasses on the north of the Mexican-US border.
As our labor pools shrink due to declining birth rates, in a near decade the US will be competing to bring cheap labor to the US.  We should take appropriate advantage now of the cheap labor just over our border and instead of sending factories down there, take steps to legally allow workers to come here.
The labor unions won't like that solution.  The racial elitists won't like that solution either.  But, the reality is that we need what they have (labor), and they need what we have (stability and prosperity).
Now, to my proposed immigration law changes:
1) Eliminate the quotas for all countries that are not totalitarian, communist, sponsors of terrorism, etc. - the political stability (not to be confused with electoral stability) of our system is a legitimate reason for immigration restriction.  All other quotas are inherently racist and should be eliminated.
2) Create a biometric database (fingerprints, DNA, etc.) available to all US law enforcement agencies and require all entrants to the US to be registered in this database (even "visitors").  Their information remains in the database until they become citizens. 
3) Routinely grant work visas to all applicants unless they are on a watch list or from a restricted national origin (see #1 above).
4) Any "visitor" or immigrant who is convicted of a felony is immediately inelegible for citizenship and is deported.  Once deported for a felony, they are never again elegible for re-entry to the US under any status.
5) Any visitor or immigrant who is found here without an authorized visa is guilty of a felony (see #4 above).
6) Require applicants for citizenship to attain English competency in reading and writing and speaking and to live here for at least 5 years with no felonies (pending indictments or convictions)  and demonstrate that they have been gainfully employed for the majority of that time before they are elegible for citizenship.
7) No publicly funded welfare benefits of any kind (including college tuition subsidies) are availalble to non-citizens.
8) All working immigrants must pay all the same taxes as citizens, but they get no benefits from those taxes.  Not even unemployment.  In other words, if you aren't a citizen, you don't get any government benefits and none accrue until you actually become a citizen.
9) Declare English as the official language of the United States of America.  Some may feel this is racist, but it is actually just a practical step.  Establishing an official language for the nation will avoid future contention over the language of contracts and official documents.  It also enforces a defacto standard language for use in business and schools in order to function effectively.  This does not in any way forbid ESL efforts or foreign language classes, but it does eliminate any right to having public school courses taught in a language other than English.
So, what do you think about my immigration reform and my pathway to citizenshp?
Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein.

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