Immigration Reform 2013: We Need to Slow This Process Down

The solution to unsustainable influx of illegal immigration needs to be comprehensive and implemented incrementally. The solution proposed by the “Gang of Eight” accomplishes this. The legislation goes about solving the problems — including influx of illegal immigrants, de facto amnesty, and government inaction — in a reasonable manner.

First, the concerns of skeptics of the plan have merit. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was failed to solve the immigration crisis in the 1980’s. It granted legal status to illegal immigrants, but obviously never achieved its purpose of solving the influx of illegal immigrants. People are right to be cynical of any bill focused on illegal immigration, as this is a recurring problem always ending in government inaction.

That being said, as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act Of 2013” currently stands, it solves the problem, doesn’t grant “amnesty,” and implements checks in order to ensure the illegal immigration problem is handled. On Senator Rubio’s website, the contents of the bill are detailed, and a prompt is given to read the bill in full.

Rubio attests to the toughness of the bill, which is implemented over a reasonable period. It would be difficult and irrational to implement such a comprehensive bill too abruptly, without substantial time to develop effective solutions. A slow, effective solution is better than a fast, ineffective one. America’s immigration system needs a surgery, not a Band-Aid.  

The bill mandates certain components be accomplished before the “newly legalized” may apply for green cards. Linking these factors ensures the border will actually be secured. Otherwise, undocumented immigrants will not receive green cards. The Department of Homeland Security must implement a border security plan, including a fence, within six months. DHS must also achieve complete “border awareness” and 90% “apprehension” in “high-risk sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border” within 5 years. If DHS fails to do this, a “Border Commission” will assume these duties. A universal E-verify system will be put in place within 10 years. Finally, a “visa exit system” will be implemented “at all international airports and seaports,” within ten years.

After the aforementioned components are fulfilled, undocumented immigrants will be subject to background checks, several thousands of dollars in fines, and more, or otherwise face deportation. This should put to rest the fears of those who worry the bill is weak on preventative measures to halt influx of illegal immigrants. The structure of the bill forces government to actually secure the border.

The bill effectively remedies the problem of the 11 million who reside here illegally. Rubio makes an accurate point that “de facto amnesty” is “the status quo, and it’s what we will continue to have if we do nothing to solve this problem.” While many are concerned about giving illegal immigrants amnesty, they must also realize inaction is, in itself, amnesty.

It is important to note the inevitability that some undocumented immigrants, including criminals, will opt to stay in the shadows. However, they are in the shadows now. The bill helps those who desire to abide by the law. The criminals, as they are found, will be subject to deportation. By allowing those with good intentions to come out of the shadows, law enforcement can more easily identify and deport the undocumented immigrants who commit crimes.

Americans should also be mindful that a system conducive to legal immigration and one which prevents illegal immigration is advantageous, not only in that it enables a fluid system of law, but also in that it helps the economy. Several months ago I detailed Sophie Cole’s H1B dilemma — her visa was denied because of bureaucracy and her desire to abide by the law. She was educated in America, and has worked here for years, but must return to England. It is illogical to invest in students, and swiftly send them back to their home countries. Sophie’s story is far from unique, and it highlights two major problems in the immigration system — turning away direly needed high-skilled workers and punishing those who follow the rules. This legislation both expands the number of H1B visas, in order “to fill jobs Americans can’t do,” and takes into account the importance of rewarding those who come to the United States legally. The bill implements a significantly more difficult process for illegal immigrants seeking to become legal, than for those who have followed the rules.

Another enormously sensible component of the bill is that undocumented immigrants will be ineligible for federal benefits. In this way, the bill “contains a partial repeal of ObamaCare.” Even better, there is a stipulation that immigrants can only obtain green cards if they can prove they will be able to support themselves and “won’t become government dependents — by verifying that they are earning at least 25% above the poverty level and are gainfully employed.”

This system effectively assures border security comes to fruition, as no undocumented immigrant can even apply “for temporary status until the border security and fencing plan is in place.” Many are concerned government will find a way to avoid handling the influx of illegal immigrants.

While the bill does all it can to ensure this will not be the case, government does have a tendency to avoid duties it dislikes, and the only remedy to this wide-reaching problem is the watchful eye of citizens. The legislation solves the majority of the problems with the immigration system, in addition to potential problems. It is arguably among the best imaginable solutions, in large part due to its incremental implementation.