A Conservative 5-Step Plan to Fix the Immigration System

The immigration issue is one that is quite difficult politically for conservative candidates as any compromise is seen as total surrender on the issue, while the reality is that the issue can’t magically be addressed through instant mass deportation via transporter and Terminator 2000’s or laser-sharks covering every inch border. How do we find a plan that satisfies the goal of fitting within conservative values while also dealing with the difficult and complex realities that the failed system has created? The below plan is designed to do just that through four core concepts:

1) Address the reality that a solution will have to address some key realities created by decades of a broken system deal with those problems.  Specific difficulties include a) Dealing with the parents of anchor babies, such babies being natural born citizens under the Constitution and tearing their families apart creates more difficulties than it resolves; b) dealing firmly but fairly with people who are in the United States illegally, but are productive members of our economy (they do exist); and c) dealing with criminals and security risks within the system.

2) Fixing the current broken system in an affordable manner so that lack of enforcement cannot lead to a repeat of the problem.

3) Deal with government entitlements going to those who should not qualify and illegal voting issues.

Finally, it addresses the key concern for those who have gone through the process legally. People aren’t being allowed to cut in line.  The closest to line-cutting that occurs in this plan is six years of honorable military service, which in my mind deserves such consideration.

Immigration Plan for Conservatives

  1. People living without proper authorization in the United States at the time of passage of this legislation must register with the Department of Homeland Security within 90 days of the passage of the legislation. This includes all persons without current legal permission.
  2. Upon registration, such people, who do not have serious criminal records or pose security risks, will be able to select two options:
    1. Immediately and voluntarily return to their home-country with their immigration files specifically annotated that they willingly returned and are thus eligible to re-enter the United States once proper permissions are granted through normal channels. Such persons will be able to apply for Citizenship upon such re-entry without any negative repercussions from their previous illegal entry into the United States.
    2. Upon confirmation of eligibility, be granted Permeant Residence Status with the additional caveat that they may never become a Citizen of the United States. Additionally, such persons shall not qualify for federal entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Those who qualify for acceptance into to a branch of the Armed Services may eliminate these restrictions through honorable discharge after at least six years of service.
  3. Any person who is found in the United States without proper authorization after 90 days from the passage of the legislation shall be arrested and held without bond until all legal proceedings relating to said person have concluded. The sole exception shall be that a person who has no pending criminal charges may waive such proceedings and be released across the border to their home nation or other nation that will accept them. A person who has no nation willing to accept them shall not qualify for this exception.
  4. Any person who is not a citizen of the United States who registers for or votes in an election for public office shall be guilty of a crime punishable by not less than one nor more than five years of incarceration, and shall have all legal status in the United States revoked, up to and including permanent residency. Such a person would then be subject to provision 3) above.
  5. All federal law enforcement officers shall have jurisdiction and a mandate to investigate and enforce immigration related offenses, including the arrest of persons known to be in the United States without legal status.

As you can see the key to the Plan is paragraph 2.  If you want to stay legally in the United States you need to immediately register and you need to immediately decide 1) that you will leave the country voluntarily and not return under the normal legal paths; or 2) to be allowed to stay with significant caveats.  This is not amnesty, as there are significant repercussions for choosing option 2, and the only real “path to citizenship” for a person who was illegal but stays in the country is significant and successful military service.  Such service would result in the person learning about the beauty of American culture and being prepared to live as a part of the culture. If you cannot or choose not to serve, then you are allowed to stay but you may never become a citizen and never participate in government entitlement programs.

Paragraph 3) is a fix to the enforcement mechanism. This is the Sherriff Joe provision. The real problem with the system is that illegal aliens who are discovered and arrested are immediately granted bond and given a bus ticket. This stops that. If you are here illegally you are held until you are returned to your home country or your case is heard by a judge. In most cases, people will take the option to return home unless they have a legitimate claim for asylum (in which case we can’t and generally shouldn’t deport them).

Paragraph 4) should be self-explanatory and the liberals who insist voter fraud doesn’t occur can’t really protest this one.

Paragraph 5) makes it harder for a President who doesn’t want the laws enforce to stop the enforcement.  All federal law enforcement have a mandate and jurisdiction to enforce.  No more “I called I.C.E. and they didn’t come to get him so I cut him loose.”


10 thoughts on “A Conservative 5-Step Plan to Fix the Immigration System

  1. This is a start. A couple of questions to help flesh it out:

    (1) Expired visas. How do we fix this problem at the airports, since most folks incorrectly believe that the problem is border enforcement?

    (2) Split families? Should we hold it as an imperative that mothers, fathers, and children should not be split? If so, what are the penalties/hoops to jump through so that a family with undocumented parents but an American child can become citizens? obtain some form of legal status? what happens if they do not observe the protocols?

    (3) Immigration vs. acculturation. Rather than waiting 5-7 years to become a citizen, is it not better to ask prospective applicants for American citizenship to acclimate to American cultural values? Extending the current system where one can serve 6 years in the American military, for instance? Obtaining a trade? Completing a four year course of education?

    (4) EB-5 et al? Is this a program that should continue? Does it accomplish #3? Or do we care so long as folks are bringing investment capital and jobs to the United States?

    (5) Refugees? How do we handle them? Classify them? Return them? Should we even be doing so? Should we expand the refugee program? If so, can we ethically demand acculturation?

    (6) American education system. If education is ultimately the transmission of culture from one generation to another, is our public education system really accomplishing that? At any level?

    (7) Once the 90 day registration period has expired, how does federal, state, and local law enforcement actually proceed with this? Checkpoints? Passive enforcement (i.e. asking for identification at routine traffic stops)? What does the cost of mass deportation look like per person? What happens if we make a fraction of a mistake and deport lawful American citizens in the process?

    (8) Paragraph 5 is perhaps the most intriguing idea of them all — almost a prohibition-era FBI approach to immigration enforcement. Cost and implementation aside, would there be a sunset provision on such an organization, or — much like US Marshalls, DEA, FBI, ICE, ATF, etc. — will they morph into the DOJ alphabet soup and find other reasons to exist?

    (9) How do you deal with the very real problem that we could be creating a class of “helots” to interact with the American “Spartans” vis a vis one class with citizenship and another without? What are the social implications of such a relationship? Should we even have such a dichotomy as a permanent part of the American landscape? If so, how many? If not, how long should the arrangement last?

    (10) Jumping in line? Agreed on principle. Question is, how do you prevent that from happening?

    (11) Finally, the immigration system altogether. “Enforcing the laws” isn’t a fix because the laws are broken beyond repair. Once all the patchwork is done, what does a better immigration system look like? Should quotas be a part of that equation (I’d hope not). Are there other models we should adopt (Australia, for instance)? What are the national security implications of a more strict/loos immigration system?

    Some food for thought. Obviously I’ve been savaged for saying the system is broken, that racial and ethnic considerations are nativist in their sentiment, and that we really do need serious, lasting, moral immigration reform — which earns you the scarlet A for amnesty from the corner of the world that does their policy thinking in crayon and fingerpaint. Still, this has to be the most honest and logical (and thoughtful) attempt to tackle the immigration problem I’ve read in the Virginia blogosphere in ages… so hats off to you, edmundrandolph1753. I typically don’t engage pseudonyms… but this was off the chart.

    Looking forward to your thoughts. This is a great start.

    1. Thanks for your comments Shaun. I am purposefully not getting too far into detail as I think we need the basic tenants established before we fill in all the specifics. That said, I’ll try to address your concerns.

      “(1) Expired visas. How do we fix this problem at the airports, since most folks incorrectly believe that the problem is border enforcement?”

      I’m not certain what you are referring to here. If you don’t have a valid visa at the air-port you’re typically put on a flight back where you came from.

      “(2) Split families? Should we hold it as an imperative that mothers, fathers, and children should not be split? If so, what are the penalties/hoops to jump through so that a family with undocumented parents but an American child can become citizens? obtain some form of legal status? what happens if they do not observe the protocols?”

      This plan takes care of the “anchor baby” problem. Families may choose to stay or leave under the provisions of Paragraph 2. If they choose to stay, the parents will not be able to become citizens but can raise their citizen child in America. If they choose to leave, I imagine they would have a good chance to be given a visa to return considering they are the parents of a citizen.

      “(3) Immigration vs. acculturation. Rather than waiting 5-7 years to become a citizen, is it not better to ask prospective applicants for American citizenship to acclimate to American cultural values? Extending the current system where one can serve 6 years in the American military, for instance? Obtaining a trade? Completing a four year course of education?”

      The 6-year military service part is a way to earn Citizenship without having to leave the country first for those who are currently in country illegally. Not all will qualify for such service, and that is too bad. There should be some price to pay for being here illegally to start with. That said, I personally don’t think acculturation can be forced, and trying to get everyone to agree on a curriculum to do so would likely be a non-starter. However, I believe that once people are established legally, the children go to school, they are not hiding as a sub-culture avoiding the authorities – they will naturally acculturate as immigrants have for decades.

      “(4) EB-5 et al? Is this a program that should continue? Does it accomplish #3? Or do we care so long as folks are bringing investment capital and jobs to the United States?”

      I really don’t like the EB-5 program, but I didn’t intend to address things at this level of detail. There are a number of immigration programs that probably should be reduced or eliminated, and many more that should likely be increased or expanded. I think we have to agree to the macro concept before we start axing or expanding programs at the micro level.

      “(5) Refugees? How do we handle them? Classify them? Return them? Should we even be doing so? Should we expand the refugee program? If so, can we ethically demand acculturation?”

      Refugees are typically granted a form of asylum and so are here legally. This wouldn’t involve them. Again, I don’t think that acculturation is something that can be a part of any program (beyond a citizenship exam) as it is something that takes generations to truly occur.

      “(6) American education system. If education is ultimately the transmission of culture from one generation to another, is our public education system really accomplishing that? At any level?”

      Let’s try and tackle one major effort at time.

      “(7) Once the 90 day registration period has expired, how does federal, state, and local law enforcement actually proceed with this? Checkpoints? Passive enforcement (i.e. asking for identification at routine traffic stops)? What does the cost of mass deportation look like per person? What happens if we make a fraction of a mistake and deport lawful American citizens in the process?”

      Passive enforcement would be the mechanism, but the difference – and a key provision to those who understand who the immigration process works within the rubric of law enforcement – is the statutory denial of bond to those who aren’t legally in the country. This is really the hammer that makes this work. The “tag and release” system is really what allowed the problem to balloon. If you are locked up and will remain so until your immigration status is fully adjudicated, people virtually all waive the process and return to their own country. If they don’t then they will ultimately be adjudicated as allowed to be in country, and properly released back into the U.S, or sent home after spending months incarcerated. Easy choice.

      “(8) Paragraph 5 is perhaps the most intriguing idea of them all — almost a prohibition-era FBI approach to immigration enforcement. Cost and implementation aside, would there be a sunset provision on such an organization, or — much like US Marshalls, DEA, FBI, ICE, ATF, etc. — will they morph into the DOJ alphabet soup and find other reasons to exist?”

      The intent is not to create any new agencies. The intent is that all currently existing agencies will have the additional power and mandate to enforce immigration laws. So if the FBI/ATF/USMS arrest a number of illegal aliens, they don’t have to wait for DHS/I.C.E. to get involved… they simply move forward with the case. This stops the current reality where DHS/I.C.E. are called, don’t show up, so the person is released. All federal law enforcement will be statutorily empowered and mandated to enforce immigration law without having to go through inter-departmental red-tape.

      “(9) How do you deal with the very real problem that we could be creating a class of “helots” to interact with the American “Spartans” vis a vis one class with citizenship and another without? What are the social implications of such a relationship? Should we even have such a dichotomy as a permanent part of the American landscape? If so, how many? If not, how long should the arrangement last?”

      We already have many legal permanent residents who live in the U.S. their whole lives without ever trying to become citizens. This only creates a separate subset of legal permanent residents who have given up their right to become a citizen or receive entitlements because they originally entered illegally. They voluntarily choose this status by not leaving and returning legally when the new measures take effect. This class of people will naturally be temporary because it is only created once when the new law goes into place… One generation and it is gone never to return.

      “(10) Jumping in line? Agreed on principle. Question is, how do you prevent that from happening?”

      There is no jumping in line because people who originally enter legally don’t have to register and make their choice under paragraph 2. The ability to register and choose under paragraph 2 only happens once, 90 days (or some other logical time-period) after the program goes into affect. Illegals that come after don’t get his option.

      Thus if you are currently here illegally, you don’t get to jump in line because you are 1) leaving the country; 2) staying but being permanently denied citizenship or entitlements; or 3) getting in a different line by serving six years in the military. The person who is doing it legally is not faced with this choice, so they keep their place in line.

      “(11) Finally, the immigration system altogether. “Enforcing the laws” isn’t a fix because the laws are broken beyond repair. Once all the patchwork is done, what does a better immigration system look like? Should quotas be a part of that equation (I’d hope not). Are there other models we should adopt (Australia, for instance)? What are the national security implications of a more strict/loos immigration system?”

      This concept isn’t a final answer to a full-redesign of the immigration program. This is an alternative to the Amnesty/permanent non-enforcement push the liberals are pushing forward. It is an attempt to deal in a one-time fashion with the illegals who are in country and tweaking the system to make it less likely that it will happen again. The flood of illegals who are running for the border increased drastically with the concept that the Obama Administration would allow them to stay. The changes to what happens if you are caught: No bond until deportation rather than catch and release will have the opposite effect. That one change will greatly enhance enforcement and, when coupled with the empowerment of all federal law enforcement to enforce immigration, would greatly impact the tide of immigrants arriving. Once they realize that they will be held until they are deported, the numbers of those sneaking in will plummet.

      All that said, this is a conceptual outline rather than a full-fledged policy makeover. My goal was to put an arrow in the quiver of our elected officials so that we have an idea on how to fix it rather than just saying no to the liberals pushing amnesty.

  2. This is pure nonsense.

    “People living without proper authorization in the United States at the time of passage of this legislation must register with the Department of Homeland Security within 90 days of the passage of the legislation. This includes all persons without current legal permission.”

    90 days, are you kidding? It would take DHS atleast a year just to staff for this sort of exercise.

    “Upon registration, such people, who do not have serious criminal records or pose security risks…”

    What’s serous vs. non-serious? Who makes that determination? That would presumably be a judge. You know how long that would take?

    “All federal law enforcement officers shall have jurisdiction and a mandate to investigate and enforce immigration related offenses, including the arrest of persons known to be in the United States without legal status.”

    There are few LEOs that have this level of authority.

  3. “This is pure nonsense.”

    I assume you are prefacing your response, in which case I agree.

    “90 days, are you kidding? It would take DHS atleast a year just to staff for this sort of exercise.”

    If that is a problem, we change the deadline… doesn’t seem to address the substance of the idea.

    “What’s serous vs. non-serious? Who makes that determination? That would presumably be a judge. You know how long that would take?”

    It would be codified in a statute, as it virtually always is in such measures. It would not be a judge. It would take no time. Again, doesn’t seem to address the substance of the idea.

    “There are few LEOs that have this level of authority.”

    Yes… that is the problem we are trying to fix. The issue that no one is enforcing immigration laws. Once again, doesn’t seem to address the substance of the idea.

    1. The substance of your idea is nonsensical if it does not incorporate the bureaucratic realities that exist. Those being: the legal battles that ensue when anything as complicated as immigration is put into law via statute; the inadequacy of the various government organizations to whom you delegate responsibility for immigration matters; the lack of legal basis for assigning multi-jurisdictional powers to LEOs for immigration enforcement; and the inherent logistical complexity in trying to get any massive part of our populace to comply with a law of this nature. You have conveniently elided these things for the sake of argument, which is fine. But I cannot whole-heartedly bless anything that perceives these things to be arbitrary and trivial. It’s otherwise nonsense.

  4. Can you please clarify how this deals with anchor babies? From what I gather, they are U.S. citizens, but their parents often are not. Does that mean the parents either have to separate from the child or take the child back to their home country (though the child is free to come back to the U.S. at any time)? Alternatively, do the parents have the opportunity to register with authorities but forgo the chance of getting citizenship?

  5. Anchor babies are children who are born in the United States and so are Natural Born U.S. Citizens, but their parents are not. As such anchor babies are by nature allowed to stay in country, though their parents might be deported.

    Under this proposal, yes the parents have the opportunity to register with the authorities and forgo the chance of getting citizenship or entitlements, so that they may keep their family together if they so choose.

    The two alternatives that people may choose upon registering is 1) Remain in the country as a legal permanent resident – but not be eligible for citizenship or entitlements unless that us earned back through military service; or 2) Leave the country and return legally in order to try and gain citizenship. If they choose option 2), that is fine as well and they would naturally take their child with them if they wish, but that is a choice they would have under the proposal, that they currently do not.

    1. So this is my point — what happens if dad, mom, and anchor baby are able to stay in the United States because dad enlists….but then dad gets KIA three years into his term. Do mom and anchor baby get sent back to their home land? And what happens to the dozens of other permutations that are likely to exist under your proposal?

  6. Savoia di Lucania

    Right now, the anchor baby situation is that baby is a citizen and allowed to be here, but parents are not.

    Under this plan, the parents can stay regardless of whether they join the military or not. If they choose to stay, they become permanent legal residents but are not every allowed to apply for citizenship or receive entitlements. Anchor baby solved.

    If dad and/or mom choose to enter the military to try and gain citizenship and be eligible for entitlements, that doesn’t eliminate their permanent resident status.- it can only improve upon it.

    Your other arguments regarding this being non-sense would appear to apply to any law ever changed. Will it be difficult? Yes. Will there be legal challenges? Yes. Would any attempt to reform immigration have these issue? Yes.

  7. “Your other arguments regarding this being non-sense would appear to apply to any law ever changed. Will it be difficult? Yes. Will there be legal challenges? Yes. Would any attempt to reform immigration have these issue? Yes.”

    Let’s pretend all smoke detectors in the United States must now be purple. I will concede that there would be all kinds of legal battles about the type of paint, the shade of purple, timeline for implementation, etc. but the difference is that a) you have a list of all dwellings in the United States b) you have an organization chartered to do the enforcement (the fire department) and c) you have existing organizations that can enforce the purple color at the manufacturing level.

    Immigration with self-identification, military service for naturalization, accounting for anchor babies, etc. etc.? It’s as nonsensical as Obamacare.

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