Immigration Part 2: Taking Care of the Existing Problem
Closing the southern border (and keeping it closed) will be a long painful process, but I suspect it’ll be the easier of the two tasks. The central question, after we secure the border, will be, what do we do with all the illegal aliens who are already here?
The short and correct answer is, send them home. That’s far easier said than done, but I don’t see how we can justly embark on any other course of action. Amnesty is out of the question; that’s a surrender to widespread crime (and worse) and invitation to more. Amnesty is moral weakness.
We need a plan that removes the incentives that bring these people here illegally, without dissuading legal immigration. We need to figure out how to get them to go home, or failing that, how to force them to go home. I think a plan to punish those who knowlingly hire illegals (first by fines and loss of licenses and permits) would be a good start. Perhaps instituting a guest worker program right now, that would bring substantial numbers of legal aliens, would create a simultaneous incentive to hire them and not hire the illegals. "Contractor X gets a [fill in the blank with tax break, etc] for hiring ten legal card-carrying guest workers, while his competitor gets fined $1000 for each illegal he hired and he loses his business license for a year."
And we also need to start a program that invites the, uhhh, disadvantaged youth in this country to fill some of these jobs. NOT to sentence them to a life of manual labor or minimum-wage jobs, but to show what millions of illegals already figured out: that crappy jobs are better than no jobs, that every little bit of cash that you bring to your families and communities goes a long way, that there's a dignity to a job well done that is its own reward, and finally that these jobs open up vast new horizons, opportunities you can't imagine until you see them for yourself.
Any scheme that would put the enforcement in the hands of illegals themselves is ridiculous. Hello, Congress?? What makes think that people whose status is essentially illegal right now would say, "Aww, what the hell, we'll turn ourselves in and do whatever they tell us to do. It's been a good [2 or 5 or 10] years, but i'm ready to head back to that village in Oaxaca, where life sucks on a good day."
Start with something simple and enforceable, and pursue it relentlessly. It will take time, but it'll be worth the effort.