So, what should be the major components of any effective, comprehensive immigration reform plan?
Here's what I think.
1. Establish a clear, efficient guest worker registration plan that would be administered at the border for those who seek entry into the U. S. for jobs, on the job for those already at work in the U. S. and in labor and/or community centers (including non-profit organizations and churches) in major population centers inside the U. S. Such a plan would not extend amnesty, unless you consider the "pass" it provides employers who have hired undocumented workers already. The plan would be a way to register workers and eliminate the need to cross the borders under the cover of night or in unsafe cargo vans and trucks. In short, this or some variation of such a plan must be developed that allows the 12 million plus undocumented immigrants to receive the documentation they need to remain in the country and on the job. Any future immigrants would be required to register upon entry to the country.
2. Secure the southern border by investing the funds necessary to do so. With registration being the backbone of this new security system, a new culture of documentation would emerge that eliminates fear and secrecy. Any workable security plan must involve cooperation with Mexico and other nations south of our borders to share real time criminal records and identity documents. Any deficiency in technical infrastructure must be addressed as a part of the border security plan. This approach works on our northern border. There is no reason to think it would not work on our southern border.
3. Differentiate basic border security related to the movement of honest labor from drug enforcement and national security concerns. Declare war on drug cartels and government corruption south of the border rather than on innocent persons who seek only a better life for themselves through hard work. Upgrade intelligence gathering and apply protocols designed to identify potential terrorists and other extremists, a process that should be made easier by the requirement that all workers register and by the almost certain cooperation of legitimate workers.
4. Establish a new working relationship with nations south of the border, especially Mexico, to stimulate those national economies in ways that are mutually beneficial. Included in any plan should be incentives to U. S. corporations who decide to move jobs outside the U. S. to make those moves south to create more jobs inside those nations closest to the U. S. Included in any plan for economic development in Mexico should be green collar jobs and industries.
5. Place current undocumented immigrants who desire U. S. citizenship to "go to the back of the line" behind those who've been playing by the rules back home in the nation of their origins. However, there would be no requirement that these workers be forced to leave the U. S. or their current employment.
6. Include passage of the DREAM Act that would provide documentation to young people who were brought to the U. S. while dependent children and who finish high school, maintain good moral character, and go on to seek a college degree or serve in the U. S. Armed Services. Allowing these young people to remain in the U. S., to work and to contribute to our economy and to enter a path to citizenship, if they so choose, is best for everyone.
7. Reclaim the federal responsibility to enforce border process and security from the states who now feel desperate due to federal inaction.