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Immigration Reform

Purpose, Scope, Context, and Importance of the issue

Article I, Section 8, Clause (4) of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the responsibility “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization”. This generalized statement was later refined by approval of Amendment 14, Section 1 declaring “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

These few words of Constitutional governance have been interrogated and often fiercely debated for over five decades in the U.S. Congress and State Legislatures.

The ‘Constitution Annotated (CONAN)’ is a research guide that provides legal analysis and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution based on Supreme Court rulings. In the published article titled “Analysis and Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution” it clarifies the immigration authority as:

Long-standing Supreme Court precedent recognizes Congress as having “plenary” power over immigration, giving it almost complete authority to decide whether foreign nationals (“aliens,” under governing statutes and case law) may enter or remain in the United States.1 But while Congress’s power over immigration is well established, defining its constitutional underpinnings is more difficult. The Constitution does not mention immigration, but parts of the Constitution address related subjects. The Supreme Court has sometimes relied upon Congress’s powers over naturalization (the term and conditions in which an alien becomes a U.S. citizen),2 foreign commerce,3 and, to a lesser extent, upon the Executive Branch’s implied Article II foreign affairs power,4 as sources of federal immigration power.5 While these powers continue to be cited as supporting the immigration power, since the late nineteenth century, the Supreme Court has described the power as flowing from the Constitution’s establishment of a federal government.6 The United States government possesses all the powers incident to a sovereign, including unqualified authority over the Nation’s borders and the ability to determine whether foreign nationals may come within its territory.7 The Supreme Court has generally assigned the constitutional power to regulate immigration to Congress, with executive authority mainly derived from congressional delegations of authority.

This authorization is the basis for determining how immigrants can become citizens. Despite the declaration of authorization to Congress, many States have attempted to enact their own immigration policies. According to the University of California, Irvine law professor Jennifer Chacon, “For the first century of the United States’ existence, many states enacted laws regulating and controlling immigration into their own borders. Various states passed laws aimed at preventing a variety of populations from entering the borders of their states, including individuals with criminal records, people reliant on public assistance, slaves, and free blacks….Notwithstanding the letter of the law, federal immigration law is always mediated by powerful intervening forces at the state and local level.” Many States are now enacting laws that supersede this Constitutional governance as immigration issues continue to rise.

Although there are many debates and conflicts centered in immigration law, it seems a key point focuses on the “pathway to citizenship” for those who are in the country illegally. This debate has increased in intensity with political maneuvering beginning in 2016 and challenging “legal” immigration – not just “illegal” immigration.

Fixing our broken immigration system has many components including:

  1. Mitigating the estimated 11–12 million illegal immigrants currently living the U.S.
  2. Preventing additional illegal immigrants from entering the Country
  3. Improving immigration processes for those qualifying for legal immigration
  4. Mitigating the refugee and asylum crisis
  5. Promoting a mind shift in cultural acceptance and inclusion of immigrants citizenship

Over the past five decades, and especially the past thirty years, there have been many attempts to address the symptoms of immigration – however only focusing on the “current political issue” does not solve the “root cause” of immigration. The “current political issues” can be satisfied by ramming through legislation in Congress by which ever Political Part holds the majority. The problem with this approach to addressing the immigration symptom is there is no collaboration, negotiation, and compromise that enables a long-lasting solution to the “root cause”. Following are some of the laws that have been approved over the past three decades which has not solved the “root cause”:

YearTitle of LegislationSummary of Law
1990Immigration Act of 1990Congress revised the Immigration Act of 1965 by implementing the H-1B visa program for skilled temporary workers, with some provisions for conversion to permanent status, and the diversity visa lottery for populations unable to enter through the preference system.
1991American Baptist Churches (ABC) Settlement AgreementThe regular denial of asylum applications from Salvadorans and Guatemalans fleeing violence in their homelands during the 1980s led to this legal challenge which forced changes to U.S. procedures for handling such cases.
1996Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) (1996)Building on the steps taken with IRCA in 1986, IIRIRA further empowered federal authorities to enforce immigration restrictions by adding resources for border policing and for verification of employment credentials. 
1997Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief ActThe Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) allowed certain Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans who had fled violence and poverty in their homelands in the 1980s to file for asylum and remain in the United States. The Flores Settlement. The Flores settlement resulted from the 1993 Supreme Court case Reno v. Flores, regarding the treatment of unaccompanied minors in immigration detention. The settlement, currently being challenged, set federal standards for the treatment and release of children in detention.
1998Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness ActUnder the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA), enacted by Congress on Oct. 21, 1998, certain Haitian nationals who had been residing in the United States could become legal permanent residents.
2001Zadvydas v. Davis (2001)This Supreme Court case ruled that immigration authorities cannot indefinitely detain aliens ordered deported, but for whom no destination can be arranged.
2002Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (2002)After the attacks of September 11th, the U.S. government acted to expand the budget, staffing, and powers of the immigration enforcement bureaucracy.  Homeland Security Act (2002). The Homeland Security Act created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by consolidating 22 diverse agencies and bureaus. The creation of DHS reflected mounting anxieties about immigration in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
2006Secure Fence Act (2006)Passed in October 2006, this law mandated that the Secretary of Homeland Security act quickly to achieve operational control over U.S. international land and maritime borders including an expansion of existing walls, fences, and surveillance. 
2012Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) (2012)Trying to cope with the long-term residence of millions of unauthorized immigrants, this executive order provided protection from deportation and work authorization to persons who arrived as minor children and had lived in the United States since June 15, 2007.
2014Deferred​ Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and DACA Program expandedThis executive order issued by the Obama White House sought to defer deportation and some other protections for unauthorized immigrants whose children were either American citizens or lawful permanent residents.

According to the ‘Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR)’ organization, they state the three major components of immigration control are: (1) deterrence, (2) apprehension, and (3) removal. The major immigration policy laws enacted over the past three decades have been an attempt to control these three major components of immigration. However, as is apparent today, immigration is still an issue.

This raises the question “Are there other elements of immigration law and approaches to legalizing immigration that can address the root cause?” There needs to be a balanced approach to “legal” immigration with the inclusion of a full range of enforcement improvements that go far beyond the U.S. borders.

It is estimated each year hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants deliberately violate the U.S. immigration policies by unlawfully crossing U.S. borders. This number has increased in recent months possibly do to proposals to end Title 42 (a pandemic-era policy that allowed border authorities to turn away asylum seekers at the border on the grounds of public health). This was a policy enacted during the Covid-19 pandemic that authorizes the quick apprehension and removal of migrants who enter the country without permission. Prior to Title 42 the law allowed migrants to stay in the U.S. while courts consider their cases. The end of Title 42 is correlated with the end of the official Covid-19 health emergency. .

A new type of pandemic which has inundated the U.S. in recent years is the fentanyl crisis. Unfortunately the politics of this drug crisis as obscured the debates on resolving the immigration issues. This obscurity as drifted into “patriotic correctness” and “political correctness” regarding immigration. Harsh words are voiced between opponent and ally of immigration law accusing each other of being racist, xenophobic, bigoted, ignorant, evil, or stupid. This degraded approach to communication thwarts any effort to engage in solving the root causes. While there are data and analysis supporting the surge of fentanyl arriving from the Southern borders the percentage of immigrants involved or promoting the distribution of the drug is minimal compared to the overall number of immigrants (legal and illegl).

There is a reason immigrants want to come to America – they want to build a better life in a safer country which has as the foundation principle a protection of rights, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Contrary to what immigration opponents want you to believe the immigrants do not come to America to disrupt elections, abuse the welfare system, or sell drugs. The ‘United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR)’ has documented “An increasing number of immigrants are forced to leave their homes for a complex combination of reasons. Human rights violations against immigrants can include a denial of civil and political rights such as arbitrary detention, torture, or a lack of due process, as well as economic, social and cultural rights such as the rights to health, housing or education.” Immigrants come to this Country willing to work hard and contribute to the economy. We should welcome productive members of society.

There is a lot of political rhetoric regarding illegal immigrants, their voting rights, and access to public services. Typically in these requests to complete surveys or signs of support the information will present the term “Amnesty”. Wikipedia defines “Amnesty” as: “A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of people who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted.“ The Webster Dictionary defines “Amnesty” as: “an official pardon for people who have been convicted of political offenses.” The word amnesty is throw about by politicians to infuse confusion and misrepresentation of the facts. I do not support amnesty by itself as a means to allow non-citizen immigrants to have the privileges of voting and accessing public services. However I fully support an efficient “pathway to citizenship” so that those currently in the U.S. that are law-abiding people can receive citizenship and thereby enjoy all the rights of other citizens. Opponents of immigration will claim that “amnesty” and the “pathway to citizenship” are the same thing. They are not. Don’t let the misguided try to confuse this issue. An understanding of how people enter this Country is important to determine your conclusion for accepting the “pathway to citizenship”.

There are two types of illegal immigrants defined in the U.S. today:

  • those who illegally enter the country are referred to as “Entry Without Inspection (EWIs)”
  • those who enter legally and then stay illegally are referred to as over-stayers

The emphasis on illegal status is necessary to ensure the rights of all people and uphold the law. However there needs to be an increased focus on legal immigration and creating a process that makes it easier for legal immigration to occur so that illegal immigration doesn’t become the sole avenue for entering the U.S.

To immigrate to the U.S. means an individual desires to relocate permanently by obtaining a ‘green card’ (officially known as an “immigrant visa” or “lawful permanent residence”). This ‘green card’ allows the individual unrestricted employment and can be renewed indefinitely. An important aspect of the ‘green card’ is it also provides a pathway to U.S. citizenship. However not everyone is eligible for a green card and even if the person satisfies the eligibility requirements applying for the ‘green card’ can be expensive and time-consuming. Because of this complex and timely process many people instead use temporary visas to visit, work, or study in the United States. These visas are officially called “non-immigrant visas” which can be renewed for multiple visits.

There are only four methods for entering the U.S. legally and all are difficult if not impossible to acquire. Immigration options are:

  1. be very closely related to a current U.S. citizen, and even this path is limited for all but spouses
  2. refugee and asylum status
  3. declare and be chosen in the Diversity lottery—random green cards given to people from countries that don’t otherwise send many people here
  4. employment opportunity – however these are typically limited to 140,000 annual and are only available to highly skilled applicants who find an employer willing to pay up to $35,000 in legal and government fees; this option is further limited by country

These options provide little opportunity for the unskilled and poor individual from another country desiring to immigrate to the U.S. This correlates to the large number of people illegally crossing the border to work in agricultural and other housing trades.

It is important to understand the differences between “refugee” and “asylum” seekers. The ‘United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP)’ defines these two groups of immigrants as follows with data supported by the ‘Migration Policy Institute (MPI)’:

Refugees and asylees are two distinct groups of people who seek protection in the United States due to fears of persecution in their home countries based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The paths these groups take touch on humanitarian concerns, international obligations, and more.

Refugees apply for protection while outside the US. The State Department’s United States Refugee Admissions Program has admitted fewer refugees in recent years, partially due to the pandemic. In 2022, 25,465 refugees arrived in the US, a 123% increase from the year prior.

Presidents set the refugee ceiling — the total number of refugees who can enter the country — each federal fiscal year. Former President Donald Trump set the lowest limit since the Refugee Program’s creation in 1980 — 15,000 in 2021. President Joe Biden raised the ceiling to 62,500 for the remainder of the 2021 fiscal year, and to 125,000 for fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

Unlike refugees, asylees make their claims either upon arrival or after they are already in the United States. Between 1990 and 2021, the US admitted 767,950 asylum seekers into the country. It admitted 17,692 asylees in 2021 alone, down 42.9% from the year before, and the fewest since 1994.

The US offers two types of asylum: affirmative and defensive. An affirmative seeker seeks asylum by applying to the Department of Homeland Security after entering the country. A defensive asylum seeker requests asylum as a defense against deportation during a standard removal proceeding. The US has historically approved more affirmative asylee applicants (481,612 total acceptances since 1990) than defensive asylee applicants (286,338 acceptances since 1990).

It would seem based on the immigrant entrance criteria the solutions to the issue could be resolved rather easily. However political posturing infuses the policy discussions with complexities. Add to this the surge in drug trafficking and the topic can become explosive. For the past two decades Republicans have backed closer ties with Mexico. Even the 1990s free trade deal known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),had bipartisan support. During the first days of former President Trump’s presidency most Republican voters said in polls that Mexico was an ally of the U.S. As the far-right conservative movement dominates the Republican Part the trend is moving towards Mexico as an enemy. These far-right Republicans promote the philosophy of fully militarizing the war on drugs by treating Mexican cartels as ISIS or other terrorist groups. This policy change of deploying the military to Mexico could have significant consequences. The approach is extreme, ineffective, self-destructive, and would result in a huge humanitarian aid issue. The end result could possibly be a greater number of people fleeing from Mexico in order to escape destruction. Conversely, the Democrats attempt to underscore the surge of migrants gathering at the U.S.-Mexico border and the number of people trying to enter the country illegally.

The only possible approach to resolving the immigration issue in a humane and effective manner is to put aside partisan politics and work to solutions.

Discussion Dialogue Summary of Proposed Policy Options

The policy of immigration is a complex issue with no direct position to resolving. It can not be resolved with broad-brush political pageantry or complete denial. Either side of this debate is going to have to provide concessions in order to implement long-lasting policy. Additionally there are misappropriated data analysis, lies, conspiracy theories, and half truths that permeate society and cloud the path to resolution. Organizations involved in the immigration debate can massage data to support their views. We need to remove the passion and rhetoric to this problem and just deal with sound facts.

The ‘Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR)’ organization makes the following claims:

  • Illegal Immigration causes an enormous drain on public funds
  • The needs of endless numbers of poor, unskilled illegal entrants undermine the quality of education, healthcare and other services for Americans
  • Job-desperate illegal immigrants unfairly depress the wages and working conditions offered to American workers, hitting hardest at minority workers and those without high school degrees.
  • Illegal immigration contributes to population growth, overwhelming communities by crowding classrooms, consuming already limited affordable housing, and increasing the strain on precious natural resources like water, energy, and forestland.
  • Illegal Immigration undermines national security, allowing potential terrorists to hide in the same shadows

However Alex Nowrasteh, Director of Immigration Studies and the Herbert A Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, has published the following article regarding common myths of immigration and substantiated facts to debunk the myths:

15 Myths Regarding Immigration:

The Cato Institute is a public policy research foundation dedicated to broadening the parameters of policy debate to allow consideration of more options that are consistent with the principles of limited government, individual liberty, and peace.

  1. “Immigrants will take American jobs, lower wages, and especially hurt the poor.”

    FACT: Immigrants don’t take American jobs, lower wages, or push the poor out of the labor market.
  • Economists look primarily at two effects of immigration on the labor market: whether immigrants push natives out of jobs (also known as the displacement effect) and whether immigrants lower the wages of native-born Americans or other immigrant workers.
  • Immigrants are typically attracted to growing regions, and they increase the supply and demand sides of the economy once they are there. They expand employment opportunities for everybody….the debate over immigrants’ effects on American wages is confined to the lower single percentage points. The most negative finding …found that immigrant competition lowered the wages of native-born American high school dropouts by a relative 1.7 percent from 1990 to 2010 ….[However the study] also found that immigrants boosted the average wages of other native-born Americans, with an overall average net effect of increasing the wages of natives by about 0.6 percent.
  • There are five principal reasons behind the positive overall effect of immigrants on native-born American wages. The first is that immigrants and natives have different skill levels: 29 percent of immigrant adults are dropouts, while only about 9 percent of native-born Americans are dropouts. As a result, there just isn’t much competition between most Americans and most immigrants. The second reason is that other differences, such as English language ability, mean that immigrants push some native-born workers into occupations where they can use their superior language skills while lower-skilled immigrants concentrate on manual labor occupations until they learn English.
  1. “It is easy to immigrate here legally. Why don’t illegal immigrants just get in line?”

    FACT: It’s very difficult to immigrate legally to the United States. Immigration law is second only to the income tax code in legal complexity.
  • It’s very difficult to immigrate legally to the United States. In most portions of American law, all activities are legal except those that the government specifically declares to be illegal. Immigration law is the opposite because the only legal immigration is that which the government specifically approves. All other immigration is illegal.
  • There are very few ways to enter the United States legally, and the entire immigration law is “second only to the Internal Revenue Code in complexity,” according to Rutgers law professor Elizabeth Hull. The pre-Ellis Island days when anybody could come to America are long gone.
  • There are four basic categories of green cards. The first is for relatives of other legal immigrants and American citizens. The second is for a limited number of skilled immigrant workers sponsored by American firms. The third category is for refugees and asylum seekers. The fourth is called the diversity green card. It’s for 50,000 applicants with at least a high school degree from countries that send few immigrants to the United States, and it is allocated by lottery.
  • There is no green card category for low-skilled workers, which is why so many immigrants come here illegally; there is no way for them to enter lawfully. There are two temporary guest worker visa programs for seasonal workers in agriculture and other nonagricultural occupations, but they are highly regulated, expensive, and employer-sponsored.
  1. “Immigrants abuse the welfare state.”

    FACT: Immigrants use significantly less welfare than native-born Americans.
  • The American welfare state spent about $2.3 trillion in 2016: $1.5 trillion on the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare and $800 billion on the means-tested welfare programs intended for the American poor.14 Most legal immigrants do not have legal access to means-tested welfare for their first five years here.
  • Illegal immigrants have these exceptions: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; emergency Medicaid; and state-level Medicaid in California. Altogether, such spending is minuscule. In 2006, illegal immigrant non-elderly adults consumed about $1.1 billion in government healthcare benefits out of $88 billion spent by governments in that year for that age group—a rate far below their share of the population.
  • Immigrants are also less likely to use welfare benefits than are native-born Americans, and when they do use welfare, immigrants consume a lower dollar value of benefits.
  1. “Immigrants increase the budget deficit and government debt.”

    FACT: Immigrants in the United States have about a net zero effect on government budgets—they pay about as much in taxes as they consume in benefits.
  • Immigrants in the United States have about a net zero effect on government budgets…. Age is the most important factor in estimating whether a new immigrant will be a net fiscal drain or a contributor to government coffers, followed by education. The least educated immigrants have a better effect on government coffers if they arrive when they’re younger rather than being older. The most educated immigrants have a negative effect if they arrive after age 64 but an average positive fiscal effect if they arrive at a younger age.
  • Between 50 percent and 75 percent of illegal immigrants comply with federal tax law. States that rely on consumption or property taxes tend to garner a surplus from taxes paid by illegal immigrants, while states that rely on income taxes do not
  1. “Immigrants increase economic inequality.”

    FACT: Maybe. The evidence on how immigration affects economic inequality in the United States is mixed—some research finds relatively small effects, and some finds substantial ones. The standard of living is much more important than is the income distribution.
  • The evidence on how immigration affects economic inequality in the United States is mixed—some research finds relatively small effects, and some finds substantial ones. The variance in findings can be explained by research methods.
  • A more recent finding is that immigrants increase wealth inequality by their effect on the price of real estate in American cities. About a third of the real estate price increase from 1970 to 2010 in American cities can be explained by the increase in immigration
  1. “Today’s immigrants don’t assimilate as immigrants from previous eras did.”

    FACT: Immigrants to the United States—including Mexicans—are assimilating as well as or better than immigrant groups from Europe over a hundred years ago.
  • The process of assimilation is a two-way street. Immigrants and their descendants must take up most of the customs, mores, and values held by long-settled natives. The natives must accept the immigrants; their children; and some of their particular customs, religions, and habits as part of the cultural fabric of the country. This two-way street is more well traveled in the United States than in European nation-states that are defined by ethnic, linguistic, and cultural features that reach back millennia and that are more difficult for outsiders to join.
  • Ethnic attrition, which is when immigrants and their descendants shed their identification with an ethnic or country-of-origin identity, does complicate how social scientists measure immigrant assimilation. Through intermarriage and time, the more educated descendants of Hispanic immigrants are less likely to identify as Hispanic, which biases the analysis of assimilation over the generations when the research relies on ethnic self-identification.
  • If you think that immigrants and their descendants during the Age of Migration from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Wales assimilated just fine, then you shouldn’t be worried about the immigrants from Mexico, China, and India today who are assimilating as well or more rapidly.
  • Immigrant assimilation is too important to leave in the hands of bureaucrats or other social planners who ignore the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle. Government involvement rarely improves anything and often makes its intended target worse; the government should not interrupt something as important as assimilation.
  1. “Immigrants are a major source of crime.”

    FACT: Immigrants, including illegal immigrants, are less likely to be incarcerated in prisons, convicted of crimes, or arrested than native-born Americans.
  • The most contentious debate regarding this issue concerns whether illegal immigrants are more likely to be criminals than are native-born Americans or legal immigrants. …49 states do not record the immigration statuses of those in prison or convicted of a crime….The databases kept by the government to determine who is illegal and who isn’t are woefully inadequate, meaning that they will likely need to be reorganized to actually reveal the information required.
  • The state of Texas provides valuable data about criminal conviction rates of illegal immigrants. Unlike every other state, Texas keeps track of the immigration status of convicted criminals and the crimes that they committed. Texas is a good state to study because it borders Mexico, has a large illegal immigrant population, is a politically conservative state governed by Republicans,…In Texas, illegal immigrant conviction rates are about half those of native-born Americans—without controls for age, education, ethnicity, or any other characteristic.
  • The criminal conviction rates for legal immigrants are the lowest of all.
  • The public seems to understand that the actions of a comparatively small number of illegal immigrants do not mean that they are more crime-prone than are native-born Americans, which is what matters the most when debating public policy.
  1. “Immigrants pose a unique risk today because of terrorism.”

    FACT: The annual chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a foreign-born person on U.S. soil from 1975 through the end of 2017 was about 1 in 3.8 million per year.
  • Deaths from terrorism committed by immigrants are greater than they were a century ago, but the risk is still low. Overall, immigration is not correlated with terrorist attacks, and the risk of being murdered in an attack committed by a foreign-born terrorist is also small.
  • More than 98 percent of the people murdered by foreign-born terrorists on U.S. soil were murdered on 9/11, and the attackers entered on tourist visas and one student visa, not immigrant visas
  1. “The United States has the most open immigration policy in the world.”

    FACT: The annual inflow of immigrants to the United States, as a percentage of our population, is below that of most other rich countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • The annual inflow of immigrants as a percentage of our population is below that of most other rich countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development because the United States has such a large population. For instance, annual immigrants to the United States account for about 0.31 percent of the American population, while the equivalent figures for Canada and Australia are 0.74 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
  • The percentage of our population that is foreign-born is about 13.5 percent— below historical highs in the United States, less than half of what it is in New Zealand and Australia, and well below that of Canada.
  1. “Amnesty or a failure to enforce our immigration laws will destroy the Rule of Law in the United States.”

    FACT: America’s current immigration laws violate every principal component of the Rule of Law. Enforcing laws that are inherently capricious and that are contrary to our traditions is inconsistent with a stable Rule of Law.
  • For a law to be consistent with the principle of the Rule of Law, it must be applied equally, have roughly predictable outcomes based on the circumstances, and be consistent with our Anglo- Saxon traditions of personal autonomy and individual liberty. Our current immigration laws violate each of those principles. Through arbitrary quotas and other regulations, the immigration laws are applied differently according to people’s country of birth.
  • An amnesty is an admission that our past laws have failed, that they need reform, and that the cost of enforcing them in the meantime exceeds the benefits.
  • There have been numerous immigration amnesties throughout American history, such as in 1929, 1958, 1965, 1986, 1997, 1998, and 2000
  1. “Illegal immigration or expanding legal immigration will destroy American national sovereignty.”

    FACT: Different immigration policies do not reduce the U.S. government’s ability to defend American sovereignty.
  • The standard Weberian definition of a government is an institution that has a monopoly (or near monopoly) on the legitimate use of violence within a certain geographical area. It achieves this monopoly by keeping out other competing sovereign governments. Our government maintains its sovereignty by excluding the militaries of other nations, by stopping insurgents, and by interrupting the plans of terrorists.
  • The main effect of our immigration laws is to prevent willing foreign workers from selling their labor to Americans who wish to voluntarily purchase it. Such economic controls do not aid in maintaining national sovereignty.
  • Allowing the free flow of nonviolent and healthy foreign nationals does nothing to diminish the U.S. government’s legitimate monopoly on the use of force.
  1. “Immigrants won’t vote for the Republican Party—look at what happened to California.”

    FACT: Republican immigration policies pushed immigrants away, not the other way around.
  • This is an argument used by some Republicans and conservatives to oppose liberalized immigration.
  • The evidence is clear that Hispanic and immigrant voters in California in the early to mid-1990s did turn the state blue, but that was as a reaction to California’s GOP declaring political war on them.
  • Although some Texas Republicans have changed their tone on immigration in recent years, they have focused primarily on border security rather than forcing every state employee to help enforce immigration law as the California GOP tried to do in 1994.
  1. “Immigrants bring with them bad cultures, ideas, or other factors that will undermine and destroy our economic and political institutions. The resultant weakening in economic growth means that immigrants will destroy more wealth than they will create over the long run.”

    FACT: There is no evidence that immigrants weaken or undermine American economic, political, or cultural institutions.
  • The larger a country’s immigrant population was in 1990, the more economic freedom increased in the same country by 2011. Immigrant countries of origin did not affect the outcome.
  • Large immigrant populations also do not increase the size of welfare programs or other government programs across American states.
  • It is very hard to upend established political and economic institutions through immigration. Individual immigrants change to fit into the existing order rather than vice versa.
  • Immigrant self-selection: those who decide to come here mostly admire American institutions or have opinions on policies that are very similar to those of native-born Americans.
  1. “The brain drain of smart immigrants to the United States impoverishes other countries.”

    FACT: The flow of skilled workers to rich nations increases the incomes of people in the destination country, enriches the immigrants, and helps (or at least does not hurt) those left behind.
  • Remittances that immigrants send home are often large enough to offset any loss in home country income through emigration.
  • This phenomenon should more accurately be called a skill flow. Economic development should be about increasing the incomes of people and not the amount of economic activity in specific geographical regions. Immigration and emigration do just that.
  1. “Immigrants will increase crowding, harm the environment, and [insert misanthropic statement here].”

    FACT: People, including immigrants, are an economic and environmental blessing and not a curse.
  • Concerns about overcrowding are focused on publicly provided goods or services such as schools, roads, and heavily zoned urban areas. Private businesses do not complain about crowding because they can boost their profits by expanding to meet demand or by charging higher prices.

References Supporting Fact-Based-Decisions

  1. Boundless, ‘The U.S. Constitution and Immigration’, July 3, 2017, https://www.boundless.com/blog/u-s-constitution-immigration/
  2. https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/what-both-sides-miss-immigration-debate?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2rronfjm_wIVK-_jBx0B5gnREAAYAyAAEgK2kfD_BwE#
  3. https://www.stilt.com/blog/2020/08/what-does-the-constitution-say-about-immigration/
  4. Constitution Annotated (CONAN), ‘Analysis and Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’, https://constitution.congress.gov/about/constitution-annotated/
  5. link to Naturalization and Citizenship site
  6. Alex Nowrasteh, “The Fiscal Impact of Immigration,” Cato Institute Working Paper no. 21, July 23, 2014; Benjamin Powell, The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).
  7. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, The Integration of Immigrants into American Society (Washington: National Academies Press, 2015).
  8. Andrew C. Forrester et al., “Do Immigrants Import Terrorism?” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 166 (October 2019): 529—43; Alex Nowrasteh, “Terrorists by Immigration Status and Nationality: A Risk Analysis, 1975–2017,” Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 866, May 7, 2019.
  9. Migration Policy Institute, “U.S. Immigrant Population and Share over Time, 1850–Present,” chart, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/charts/immigrant-population-over-time ; Alex Nowrasteh, “Defending Green Cards,” Cato at Liberty (blog), July 21, 2016.
  10. USA Facts, ‘Number of Refugees Entering the US’, https://usafacts.org/articles/how-many-refugees-are-entering-the-us/?utm_source=Mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_content=july_31
  11. New York Times, Monday July 31, 2023, ‘Immigration Data’, Author Headshot, German Lopez
  12. Morning News, Monday May 8th., ‘Difficult trade-offs’
  13. Florida State Law, SB 1718, Governor DeSantis signed May 2023
  14. Michael Clemens, “Skill Flow: A Fundamental Reconsideration of Skilled-Worker Mobility and Development,” SSRN Electronic Journal 8 (HDRP-2009- 08), January 2009.
  15. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), commonly known as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘OHCHR and Migration – Human Rights’, https://www.ohchr.org/en/migration?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7I7h4fbm_wIVkCmzAB0BMw3NEAAYAyAAEgK77PD_BwE
  16. Constitutional Accountability Center, ‘Immigration and Citizenship’, https://www.theusconstitution.org/issues/immigration-citizenship/
  17. Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), ‘Illegal Immigration’, https://www.fairus.org/issues/illegal-immigration?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2rronfjm_wIVK-_jBx0B5gnREAAYASABEgK9MfD_BwE
  18. Migration Policy Institute (MPI), ‘Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States’, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6cjHhffm_wIVie3jBx3bPQnSEAMYASAAEgJ4E_D_BwE

Recommended Policy Statement

We believe in pursuing a comprehensive and compassionate approach to an immigration policy building upon the principles and contributions of immigrants throughout history which have shaped and enriched the United States.

We believe in prioritizing policies that uphold the principles of fairness, inclusivity, and respect for human rights.

We recognize the need for effective border security measures to ensure public safety and orderly migration. .

We advocate reforming the immigration policies to provide a clear and efficient process to legal immigration thereby enabling individuals to contribute to our society and economy.

We promote streamlining the immigration process, reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, and promoting family reunification for law-abiding individuals.

We acknowledge the importance of attracting and retaining talented individuals from around the world, as they bring innovations, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit that benefit our nation’s growth and competitiveness.

We advocate for addressing the root causes of immigration by engaging in international cooperation, supporting economic development, and promoting stability in regions where people are forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence, or lack of opportunity. By providing humanitarian aid and working collaboratively with other nations, we can alleviate the pressures that lead to irregular migration.

We authorize enforcing immigration laws, prioritizing the humane treatment of all individuals, including asylum seekers and refugees. Alternatives to detention should be explored whenever possible.

We believe in legislating a comprehensive immigration reform that includes a “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants who are already contributing to our society, are law-abiding, and meet specific criteria.

We recognize the value of diversity and the cultural, economic, and social benefits it brings. We must combat discrimination, xenophobia, and prejudice, promoting an inclusive society that recognizes and celebrates the contributions of immigrants.

By embracing our shared humanity and upholding the principles of justice and compassion, we can build a stronger and more prosperous nation for all.

The following actions are to be debated, refined, validated, approved, and legislated for U.S. Immigration Reform:

  1. expand legal immigration by defining more flexibility and alternatives for obtaining a green card
  2. re-appropriate the billions of dollars earmarked for building a wall or barriers (that Mexico will never fund) into streamlined immigration naturalization and enhanced humane deportation processes
  3. allow people who contribute to our society to come out of the shadows, apprehend and deport those who have broken the law
  4. strengthen welfare-use rules to significantly lessen the fear that new immigrants will abuse welfare; these modified laws for welfare consumption will apply to all native-born Americans, naturalized citizens, and legal immigrants at the same rate; the budget saved can be used to fund immigration policy reform
  5. create national database for immigration status; includes status, types of crimes committed, and incarceration details
  6. DREAM Act (for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as a child) the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will replace the “amnesty” program with a streamlined “pathway to citizenship” if no felonies have been committed
  7. employers hiring illegal immigrants will have 180 days to convert illegal immigrants to green card status based on expanded alternatives for legal immigration, or assist in finding other employers that can convert to green card status;
  8. all immigrants will be required to show Immigrant Social Security Card (enhanced Green Card) containing PhotoID at points of public service (i.e. public schools, doctor offices, social services, etc.) in order to receive service; only exception is emergency room admittance; national database is used to track and analyze services; the Immigrant Social Security Card (enhanced Green Card) contains photo id, country-of-origin, current Green Card status, voting status if any, etc.,
  9. the “voting status” on Immigrant Social Security Card (enhanced Green Card) would prevent unauthorized voting by immigrants who are not naturalized citizens
  10. World Organizations (i.e. NATO, WHO, etc.) to collaborate and enforce humanitarian detention centers within the country having immigrants leaving their country to allow the receiving country adequate time to process immigrants
  11. World Organizations (i.e. NATO, WHO, etc.) to collaborate and support building an environment that entices people to remain in their homelands
  12. refine guidelines and standardized procedures for border authorities to permit the rapid and accurate identification and referral of migrants who may be at particular risk at international borders, such guidelines and procedures should be developed in cooperation with relevant national, international and civil society organizations.
  13. individually screening and assessing migrants at international borders to ensure that detention is only imposed for limited lawful objectives in accordance with international human rights law, and only when no alternatives to detention are available.
  14. promote voluntary return in preference to forced deportation of illegal immigrants, including by providing information about voluntary return processes in accessible formats and languages migrants are known to understand
  15. standardize the collection and analysis of data for a national database regarding border governance, including on regular and irregular border crossings, smuggling of migrants and trafficking of persons, instances of deaths of migrants attempting to approach and/or cross borders, and complaints of discrimination, violence and abuse at international borders
  16. replace sanctuary cities with “opportunity zones” where focus changes to open transparent assimilation of legal immigrants for employment and naturalization
  17. make it a felony to transport into the U.S. or across State lines a person who you know or reasonably should know (1) entered the U.S. unlawfully and (2) has not been inspected by the federal government – holds a valid Immigrant Social Security Card (enhanced Green Card)
  18. invalidate existing state driver licenses that are a part of classes of licenses issued exclusively to undocumented immigrants, future state drive license only issued with valid Immigrant Social Security Card (enhanced Green Card)
  19. require hospitals and emergency departments that receive Medicaid to ask patients their immigration status
  20. Restrict community ID funding;
  21. penalize employers for failing to verify new employee employment authorization using E-Verify or national database for Immigration Status
  22. restrict DACA immigrants from being licensed specific fields if they have not obtained naturalization citizenship by 2028
  23. refine collaboration between counter-terrorism organizations and immigration enforcement to identify and deport immigrants involved in terrorism and drug cartels
  24. mandate fingerprinting collection (evaluate use of DNA collection) from all non-citizens held in criminal custody and tracked in national immigration database
  25. other areas for evaluation –
  • procedural reforms
  • strengthened investigation capacity
  • refugee and asylum reform
  • documentation improvements
  • improvements in detention and deportation procedures
  • limitations on judicial review
  • improved intelligence capacity, greatly improved state/federal cooperation, and added resources

Let’s work together to understand the important issues driving the selection of candidates for the 2024 Election

There are approximately 330 million citizens of the United States of America and yet only a handful are defining policies for our country. While the extremists on the far-left and far-right may currently have the loudest voices they are a very small percentage of the population. By working together the majority of citizens can provide direction to our elected officials as to the desires and intent of The People.

The campaign would appreciate your views of the policy statement above. Use the “Contact Us” menu to provide your input.

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