It looks as if Congress and the Trump Administration plan to kick off the year with discussions that will be focused on immigration, DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals), a possible border wall, and other relevant discussions.
This is considered to be a very tough area of debate for Republicans and Democrats alike because it covers so many issues, special interest groups, political considerations, and could have large effects on the U.S. economy and the world’s perception of us. The United States is estimated to have more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. These are people who have either crossed the border from South or Central America without legal authorization or people who are still here unlawfully after their visas have expired. The country has been in a flux for decades over how to solve this issue and the can has been kicked down the road for a very long time. The problem may finally have come to the point where a decision absolutely has to be made. Some folks, especially on the political left advocate giving a path to citizenship to all of these people. Other folks, generally on the political right support deporting most of these people back to their home nations and banning them from ever returning. Personally, I would be inclined to agree with the latter because it infuriates me that these people think they have the right to illegally enter our country and enjoy its bounties and then demand that they not be deported even if they have committed crimes. But from the perspective of a pragmatist, a total deportation policy is not practical or possible. Physically locating and deporting more than 11 million people living somewhere in this massive country would be unimaginably expensive and would be a logistical nightmare. It may also turn the country into a police state which isn’t good for anyone. Creating legislative measures that include permanent fixes is the name of the game.
I take almost everything Democrats say with a grain of salt. So when they claim that all of the DACA kids are good people, fluent English speakers, educated, and employed Americans; I don’t trust them one bit. I am sure many of these individuals are fine people but there have been reported cases of some of these people not being children, having troubles with the law, and misusing taxpayer funds. Giving blanket amnesty or an immediate path to legalization would be a bad idea because it sets a bad precedent for future illegal immigrants and may inadvertently give bad actors a mandate to live and work in America. I propose a piece of legislation that sets a hard quota limit on illegal immigrants who can apply for a path to legalization.
Absolute must-haves for prospective applicants:
- Be gainfully employed, a full-time student in a high demand educational program (STEM, finance, accounting, etc.), U.S. military personnel, or a business owner
- Never have had any troubles with the law other than minor traffic offenses
- Can speak English proficiently
- Are not dependent on any taxpayer subsidies and/or programs such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, Financial Aid programs, etc.
- Agree to abide by the laws of the United States and agree to a provision that they will be deported if they violate the terms of the legalization program
Congress can perhaps set a limit on the number of people that will be accepted such as 800,000 or 2 million. I would support up to 2.5 million legalizations but I would vehemently oppose legalizing all of the illegal immigrants. I doubt all of them would be eligible for the requirements levied in order to be accepted. I also don’t think they should immediately be given permanent residency or citizenship. They should be given something similar to an H1B visa which would essentially be temporary residency to legally live and work here and they could apply for permanent residency after 5 years of abiding by the rules. This would serve as a sort of trial period during which time they must follow the rules like other legal immigrants.
Originally, I was vehemently opposed to any form of amnesty but now I have recognized the reality on a couple of major problems. Congress is unlikely to reform entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare that are the real long term factors in the decline of our nations fiscal health. For the economy to sustain a growth rate above the recent terrible averages of around ~1.5-2% we will need either an above average increase in labor force size, worker productivity, or preferably both. In order to be objective we have to realize many Americans prefer utilizing entitlement and social safety net programs rather than gainful employment in the private economy. So, the conclusion is that labor force expansion will need to come from immigrants if it won’t happen within our population. You can either choose increased immigration or slash and reform entitlement programs to incentivize work and entrepreneurship. You can’t oppose both and expect economic growth to accelerate. Regulation and taxation have really hurt the productivity equation but education is also a key area that is essential to increasing worker productivity and therefore total economic output. But education is a discussion for a different post.
DACA is likely going to pass in a bipartisan fashion and I am certain that President Trump will sign the legislation because he said so himself today. So, we Libertarians, Republicans, Conservitarians (Conservative + Libertarians), Capitalists, Classical Liberals, Conservatives, Right-Wingers, etc. will have to get with the program. It seems that a large portion of the country supports at least partial legalization, so total deportation is probably not even a question. I could’ve swore that was exactly what Candidate Donald Trump promised, but politicians never tell the truth because they are personally mendacious and the voting population is immensely stupid. This may sound condescending and downright mean but it is true if you review the history of world politics.
President Trump has indicated he will sign a DACA bill in exchange for increased border security and an end to chain migration. I would also add E-Verify to the list of asks in exchange for DACA because it would really penalize businesses that choose to employ illegal immigrants and the lack of economic opportunity may incentivize many illegals to go back to their home nations. Increased border security for the Trump Administration includes funding of up to $18B for a southern border wall, more border security agents, and other measures that boost enforcement such as technology solutions and watchtowers. Democrats and even some Republicans dislike the idea of a southern border wall for reasons ranging from the cost to it being offensive to Mexico. I’m very curious to see if a border wall materializes, I doubt it will be the “big beautiful wall” that President Trump has often claimed would be built. If it does indeed materialize, I predict it will be a much more scaled down ambition with increased fencing and perhaps a tall concrete structure in high problem areas.
I personally would like a massive steel and concrete wall across the whole southern border, but I realize that it is impractical for a multitude of reasons. First of all, many swaths of land on the border area are owned by private landowners so building the wall would required stealing land from them using eminent domain or paying them below market rates for their property. I despise government theft of private property, so I am philosophically and morally opposed to this. Second of all, various sections of the border already have natural barriers so adding a wall there would be a waste of money. Third of all, the cost of $18B seems excessive and I would prefer the redeployment of existing DHS (Department of Homeland Security) funds to improve border security. DHS has often been excoriated for egregious misuse of taxpayer funds and it has morphed into another unaccountable swamp bureaucracy. I cannot understand why the existing budget of $40.7B cannot accommodate increased security and enforcement. The various departments and bureaucracies in Washington D.C. and State Capitols have become totally unaccountable to the taxpayer and have constantly evaded Congressional oversight.
This is Saint Reagan signing off