The United States has a huge problem; in fact, 12 to 14 million problems, collectively forming one of the biggest and most complex problems this country has ever faced. I'm of course talking about our immigration problem.
I know this whole immigration issue is knotty and emotional, and a Solomon-like solution is needed to resolve it. I’m not Solomon, but I think I see a logical path to happiness for our country, and for the illegal aliens themselves.
A citizen of the United States of America pledges allegiance to our flag and all it represents, to the republic and its laws. Not to some other country, its flag, and its legal structure or lack of it.
A citizen is registered with the government, has personal ID, Social Security number, perhaps a driver’s license . . . and pays taxes on income. He doesn’t hide from his government, he openly cooperates with it, and supports it. In fact, he becomes part of it.
A citizen obeys its laws, and expects to be penalized if he doesn’t.
I’ve personally talked with immigrants from many other countries, and heard countless others, who get very emotional recounting how they felt when they first pledged allegiance to our flag after they’d just become naturalized citizens.
They’d come pursuing the dream of America — and yes, some had risked their very lives in the process — and their new citizenship meant everything to them. They not only were committed to obeying our laws, they had reverence for them!
They understood that these laws and statutes formed the structure of the society they were becoming part of, and they cherished a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Millions of these new citizens came from comparatively poor circumstances, but they worked hard, learned our language, soaked up our history, and became successful Americans, raising their kids to be the same. They’re the very kind of people Lady Liberty opened her arms to, and still does.
The 12 to 14 million undocumented immigrants, largely from Mexico, are pursuing some part of the same dream. And I propose that they have a similar chance to become American citizens — but that they must do it the same way all their predecessors did it. Legally.
And since they’re already here, and in most cases, working and earning pay for their work — illegally — they should expect, like all other citizens, to be penalized for breaking the law.
A fundamental, unchangeable truth: Laws that are not enforced are meaningless, irrelevant. They might as well not exist. And soon, they won’t.
The revered U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, in the 1937 Palko vs. Connecticut decision, referenced “the fundamental scheme of ordered liberty.” And since he distilled a multifaceted concept into that useful phrase, rational and objective legal minds have agreed that all our liberties depend on a consistent structure, a legal order, to endure.
So what to do? My suggestions:
- Every last immigrant must register with the government and commit to a plan to become legal. If not, it’s back to the country from which he came.
- A temporary work visa must be obtained, with a definite time limit, and holders’ whereabouts routinely monitored.
- Taxes must be assessed on moneys received, in compliance with the established guidelines and deductions all other citizens follow. In most cases, taxes will be little, and with deductions almost nothing, just like other low income Americans.
- Fines or penalties will be assessed, but as with low earning Americans and college students, these can be paid over time out of earnings, perhaps on a low percentage of income basis. But breaking the law must incur penalty!
- The government will have to set up the processes by which the naturalization can be accomplished in two or three years maximum. The same requirements, including learning American history and the English language and all our basic laws, must be part of the process, as with all previous naturalized immigrants. Failure to comply will necessitate expulsion; US citizenship cannot be taken, or earned, lightly any more. But compliance will be rewarded.
- Sorry, no benefits except emergency medical care will be afforded noncitizens, especially those here illegally. But the benefits will be available upon compliance and naturalization.
- Automatic citizenship to children born here to illegal parents must end; some learned constitutional scholars have said that a constitutional amendment isn’t necessary for this change — correctly worded federal statute may be sufficient. If Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t run for president, like any other citizen, because he wasn’t born here, why should children born here illegally have more rights than the governor of California? In a democracy worthy of the name, personal rights and obedience to law are inseparable.
- Employers who knowingly, or even negligently, hire and pay illegal aliens must be punished severely for breaking the laws and bringing much of this dilemma on our country to begin with. I propose they be assessed the total amounts they’ve paid, plus significant fines and other penalties. They then will be forced to pay decent wages that low income Americans may be attracted to. Failure to comply should send employers to prison, like other lawbreakers.
Now, I know a plan like this will be complex and costly.
If we become committed to a sound immigration policy, we can solve these problems and welcome these new millions as law abiding, productive, loyal citizens. That way, we can address the monumental taxpayer costs of accommodating them as illegals.
We must do these things. We can’t keep allowing, even inviting, millions of people to pour over our borders and just start living the American dream in any fashion, without demanding the same responsibilities all our citizens must accept. The idea of amnesty, of just shrugging off disobedience and disregard for our laws, in any form or by any name, cannot be offered.
Unless liberty is ordered, it will inevitably cease to exist — for any of us.
Pat Boone's public career spans a half-century, during which he has been a top-selling recording artist, the star of a hit television series, a movie star, a Broadway headliner, and a best-selling author. He is also a great-great-grandson of the legendary pioneer Daniel Boone. Read more reports from Pat Boone — Click Here Now.
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