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PJuly 31, 2012

An Immigration Compromise

The theme in my latest blogs has been the power of compromise in our national political arena: a power we have not seen in that arena for five years.  The definition I have been using for compromise, and I’ll mention it once again, is: To compromise is for the Republican and Democratic Party to agree on an issue where each Party gives up part of their demand.”

So, let’s talk immigration reform and how compromise can make it happen. This was the last sentence I wrote before Mr. Obama directed immigration enforcement officials to allow young, illegal immigrants (Dreamers), who met specific criteria, to receive a two-year deferral from deportation proceedings and the ability to apply for work permits.  I now need to do a quick evaluation on this quick fix then proceed to my immigration idea.

The specific criteria for dreamers referenced above include:

  You have to qualify before you can file an application under the new law.

  If you qualify, you can file even if you have an order of deportation.

  You have to have entered the US before you turned 16

  You cannot be more than 31 years old now

  You cannot have any serious misdemeanors or felonies

  You have to have more than 5 years of residence in the US

  You have to either be in school, graduated high school, have a GED, or have served in the military

  If you qualify, you can get a work permit, a social security number, a driver’s license, and other benefits.

At first glance, this sounds like a great and fair idea. The speeches and talking points rally up this new initiative.  According to www.winningprogressive.org, President Obama’s new immigration policy will lift the threat of deportation from nearly 1 million dreamers and is an important step towards making our immigration system fairer, more efficient, and more just. Hold on now…  the obvious problem is: how will the immigration officials go about approving a dreamer?  If the Justice Department and individual states are litigating the simple premise of requiring a picture ID for a legal US citizen to cast a vote, can you imagine requesting from a dreamer a high school transcript, a birth certificate, proof of entering the country illegally, police background check, proof of 5 years residency, that would include utility receipts, W-2s, paystubs, etc.  Most of us would find it cumbersome, at best, to locate our own records to meet the dreamer criteria. In Delaware, it’s hard enough to meet the criteria of a federally compliant driver’s license! The dreamers are dancing in the street along with like-minded folks who agree with this presidential order.  I look at this differently: by the numbers!  Let’s do the math…1.0 million dreamers x 3 hours for processing = 3.0 million hours of immigration processing personnel.  Working continuously 2,000 hours a year it would take 1,500 new government workers a full year at a minimum cost of $133 million to process this initiative. This does not include the number of people from the military, education, state police departments and others needed to provide dreamer verification.  My prediction is that the dreamers will receive only a cursory review, if any, and many more bad dreamers will hitchhike residency on the backs of those who really do qualify.  Remember, six months before an election, crazy “vote getting” ideas immerge from both parties!

Sorry for the distraction…let’s get back to real Immigration Reform.  In October 2008, the illegal immigrant population stood at 11.9 million according to the Pew Hispanic Center. For purposes of this blog, we are going to use a nice round current number of 13 million.  By the way, this number includes the dreamers!

I have thought long and hard on how to fairly accommodate 13 million people who illegally crossed the USA border for a better life.  Can we send them all back?  No!  So how do you compromise a solution to this problem when even the democrats, who had majorities in both houses between 2008 and 2010, and a president, who promised immigration reform, never got it started or done?

There are 13 million illegal immigrants that need a path to citizenship.  That premise brings back the negative “amnesty” word dating back to 1986 that dealt with ONLY 2.9 illegals.  Today we have a much more serious problem.  The compromise is “pay to play” or a path to freedom fee (PTFF).  The cost of being granted the opportunity for citizenship should cost every illegal $1,000 each.  The payments can be made over a one year period at a cost of $84.00 a month (or $21.00 a week).  Applications for this program will be open for 6 months and advertised heavily to promote it to this very cautious and wary group.   After paying the PTFF, those folks will receive a PTFF card (similar to a social security card) and will provide legal identification for this select group.  Their next step is the road to citizenship.  Those who do not apply or pay the PTFF will be deported if they are caught in this country illegally.  More importantly, the total fees anticipated to collect for this program equal $13 billion dollars.  Apply $5 billion to finally close down the open border between Mexico and the United States.  A portion should be applied to education for citizenship and the remaining amount should pay down the deficit.  Are there a host of problems with this idea?  Yes…But I haven’t heard one better!

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