Tags: Illegal | Immigration | Solution: | Make | Citizens | Aliens

Illegal Immigration Solution: Make Citizens of Aliens

Monday, 18 June 2007 12:00 AM

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and

As noted in this space

It's constantly in the news; Congress and the president are wrangling and disputing over what should be done; sizeable and sometimes disorderly demonstrations have occurred nationwide; and now our legislators are trying to revive a comatose bill that was crafted in such a way that it was met with widespread public suspicion and a lot of outright alarm.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, in an impassioned, almost Howard Dean-like display before Congress last week, cried "These people have risked their lives to come here!"— strongly implying that this entitled them to being accepted as legitimate citizens.

Immediately, the thought occurred to me: "Bank robbers risk their lives to rob banks; does this mean they should be allowed to take what they came for?"

Sadly, many people risk lives and resources on unattainable goals, or in ways that can't allow them to accomplish those goals. 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.

Turn the aliens into citizens.

What is a citizen?

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 the Lady of Liberty opened her arms to, and still does.

Apparently, 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.

Even Paris Hilton has had to learn that lesson, and is currently paying the penalty for her lawbreaking.

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 v. 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:

1. 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.

2. A temporary work visa must be obtained, with a definite time limit, and holders' whereabouts routinely monitored.

3. 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.

4. 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

5. 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; U.S. citizenship cannot be taken, or earned, lightly any more. But compliance will be rewarded.

6. Sorry, no benefits except emergency medical care will be afforded non-citizens, especially those here illegally. But the benefits will be available upon compliance and naturalization. Using the bank robber analogy, just breaking in and taking the desired benefits won't work . . . for anybody.

7. 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.

8. Ergo . . . 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. If Bernie Ebbers and Ken Lay and other very wealthy and influential executives can be held accountable, every last employer should be too.

Now, I know a plan like this will be complex and costly. But so is the IRS, and with all its inefficiency and bureaucracy, it has worked well enough to fund our huge government — even our pork-addicted Congress! And if you've ever failed to pay taxes when you should have, or even acted on an accountant's advice that was later disallowed by the IRS, you've learned that "you can run, but you can't hide."

Surely, if we diligently apply the same intelligence and comprehensive commitment to immigration, 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.

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"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and As noted in this space It's constantly in the news; Congress and the president are wrangling and disputing over what should be done; sizeable and sometimes disorderly demonstrations have occurred...
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Monday, 18 June 2007 12:00 AM
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