January 20, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
I have written to you and to your Change.com site extensively on the subject of immigration reform in the recent past. Now that you have been inaugurated, I believe it is appropriate to address this issue one more time. The Heritage Foundation and others have written about real immigration reform and the need for a temporary foreign worker program. I recognize that the Heritage Foundation exists to provide substance for the conservative point of view on these and other matters just as many other writers promote the neo-liberal perspective. I agree with most of what the Heritage Foundation has written but I have supplemented, changed, or adapted many of its recommendations to reflect my own views on this important problem.
Perhaps the best way to come to grips with immigration reform is to ask two questions “what are our needs and what will work?” But even before that we must decide what is or should be our objectives in the area of immigration reform. I believe our objectives should include secure borders, protection of our national sovereignty, and close attention to the national interest. In my judgment, achievement of these objectives would require the following:
1. Improvements in border infrastructure, staffing, and the rules of engagement. With regard to the last of these, we have to get much tougher on drug, human, and weapon smugglers or traffickers.
2. A permanent end to catch-and-release internally and at the border. If we simply escort the illegal aliens we apprehend back across the border, they will try again and again, often within the same day until they are successful. They must be detained for at least six months and put to work on border infrastructure before they are repatriated. They could be paid at the minimum wage with some deduction for the cost of the food provided to them while they are in detention.
3. The work status of all employees must be verified using the available electronic means. Those who fail E-verification should be given a week in which to prove their bona fides. Those who can’t must be detained and subjected to an involuntary removal order with only a week for appeal. Without E-verification and vigorous internal enforcement, other border security measures will be for naught. Obviously, this has to be an ongoing process implemented in a systematic way so that our economy is not disrupted and so that the illegal aliens are not treated inhumanely.
4. I have seen no cogent arguments for any increase in legal immigration beyond the demonstrated needs of our economy. It is a well-known fact that both China and Europe are producing more PhDs in engineering and science than we are and this places our technological lead in grave danger. It follows that we should focus our immigration quotas not on a nationality basis but on our need for people with demonstrated inventiveness, innovative and entrepreneurial skills, and the higher education that often goes with those skills. Let’s invite all foreign students who have shown a talent for engineering and science at the PhD level to stay and help our country to remain strong and competitive.
5. Let’s adopt a national objective of a stable population to be achieved within 20 years. Appointment of experts like Mark Krikorian and Roy Beck to key positions would facilitate the achievement of that objective. Population-driven economic growth is ultimately unsustainable so let’s look beyond the next election to what our country needs to remain viable and successful 50 or 100 years from now. A beginning can be made by reducing the total number of legal immigrants to the historical level of about 200,000 per year, focused as noted in 4 above. This number would be exclusive of foreign students, tourists, and real temporary workers. This would require an end to chain immigrations except for the spouses and children of those who have been granted citizenship.
6. Diligent enforcement of the law internally and at the border are what will work. Half measures are useless. We know from the 1986 amnesty that amnesty does not work. Twenty years later, that amnesty has resulted in another 12-20 illegal aliens in our country. Therefore, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to extrapolate what another amnesty will mean to the future of our country. We must create disincentives for both the illegal aliens and their employers. The message to the former must be: “If you come here illegally and are an able-bodied male, you will be caught and detained for at least six months and put to work on border infrastructure projects. Women and children will be returned to their homelands immediately. All should be admonished that if they repeat their offenses by returning, they can expect to do hard time. The message to employers must be: "You will pay dearly and promptly if you hire any illegal aliens."
7. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must be reformed to meet the needs of our economy, protect the interest of the nation, and to allow expedited approval for those described in 4 above who can contribute the most to our economy. Our immigration policies must be based on the demonstrated needs of our economy not the demands of foreigners for entry or the size of the existing backlog. We need to send the message to all potential applicants that we can no longer take everyone who wishes to come here and that our focus will be on those with the skills and intellect needed for our continued success. They can then prepare themselves.
8. A temporary worker program should be devised for workers who are still in their home countries, waiting to come to the U.S. This new program cannot be used to grant amnesty to illegal aliens already in the U.S., as this would clearly undermine any attempt at immigration reform and create an incentive for more illegals to violate our border. This program should not in any way encourage illegal entry. Those who are here illegally must return to their home countries in order to qualify for the new program. They should begin to leave now. That is an approach that will work.
9. Ensure respect for American citizenship by protecting the temporary nature of the program. After working in the U.S. for the time allowed under the program, for example, four years, participants should be required to spend a specified amount of time in their home country before participating in the program again.
10. The temporary worker program should not become a path to citizenship. Of course, temporary worker status should not be an impediment to applying for naturalization but they must wait their turn and show why citizenship would be in the our interest. Children born in the U.S. of participants in the temporary worker program should not be guaranteed birthright U.S. citizenship. The birth certificate issued should show the country of origin of the parents as the citizenship of the child. This should be confirmed as part of the bilateral agreements and any necessary changes in U.S. law.
11. Numerical limit. There must be a yearly quota on the number of temporary worker visas allotted each year that is sufficient to meet the need of our economy--no more, no less. The number of temporary workers should also be contingent on whether past temporary workers did, in fact, return home. Create a fast-track system. Getting workers into the U.S. in a timely manner is equally important. Having a faster application process for proven participants is a great benefit to employers who frequently use seasonal workers.
12. Temporary worker programs should require employers to pay the prevailing-wage and benefits so that there is a level playing field with citizen workers and to avoid creating an underclass of workers or anything that smacks of slave labor. Contrary to the views of the Heritage Foundation, this will not result in any reduction of labor market flexibility or increase in the regulatory burden.
13. Security and health checks first. The U.S. government is responsible for keeping dangerous people out of our country. It is, therefore, necessary to complete security and health checks before the visa holders enter the country.
14. Create a biometric registry. The temporary worker program should have a registry of all participants. A single secure, biometric, machine readable registration ID card should be administered that could be used at border checkpoints for registration, entry, and exit. A system similar to the E-verification system should be used so that we know who is here and who is not and whether all visitors have left when their visas have expired.
15. Performance bonds. Employers should post bonds that are redeemable if the worker has followed certain program rules, such as leaving the country after the program has ended.
16. Security bonds. Employers should post security bonds for each temporary worker. The bonds would cover potential costs, such as emergency medical costs. Employers must not be allowed to offload these costs on the unsuspecting public.
17. Establishing an exit system. Overstays comprise a majority of those living in this country illegally. Developing an exit system is crucial but we should be liberal with extensions for PhD candidates in engineering and the natural sciences. Employees should be encouraged to exit with incentives, such as having their application fast-tracked the next time they apply for the program. Exits of visa holders should be tracked with a biometric registry.
18. Entitlements for visa holders. Since the participants of the program are citizens of another country, they do not qualify for entitlement privileges. The temporary worker program should not create entitlements for participants, nor should participants qualify for Social Security, Medicare, welfare, or free education services. Neither should there be payroll deductions for these services or any other actions that would create an entitlement or future claim except. An escrow account may be created for the normal payroll deductions to help defray the medical and other costs the foreign worker may incur.
19. Bilateral agreements. Participation in the program requires a bilateral agreement between the United States and the potential employee's home country. In order to enter into an agreement, the home country must meet certain requirements. The agreements should clarify the citizenship status of participants and their children as well as facilitate their return to their home country at the end of the program, and accept a U.S. birth certificate as proof of the children’s citizenship in the parents’ country of origin. In addition, the agreement should establish a counter-terrorism and information-sharing relationship. No bilateral agreement should be made with countries whose citizens may pose serious national security threats as determined by the Departments of State and Homeland Security, such as nations that are designated state sponsors of terrorism.
Finally, let me say that I believe that the American culture, language, standard of living, quality of life, and ideas are worth protecting. When John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” If they were to apply his words to our immigration dilemma, perhaps more of our ethnocentric citizens would take a different view of their support for illegal aliens and oppose any liberalization immigration quotas. That's what they can do for their country! We know all too well why immigrants wish to come to this country but there is a real danger that if there are too many of them they will simply re-create the very conditions that led them to leave their homelands: disease, poverty, natural resource shortages, crime, gangs, liack of freedom, corrupt governments, and power-hungry oligarchs. Let's begin to convey that message to all immigration special interest groups, lobbyists, and immigration lawyers. They must be made to understand where the misguided immigration policies they advocate will lead. Let's not become a society known for its myopia.
Working for logical immigation reform based on a stable population, a recognition of the finite nature of our natural resources and the adverse impact of continued growth on our quality of life, standard of living, national interest, character, language, sovereignty and the rule of law. Pushing back and countering the disloyal elements in American society and the anti-American rhetoric of the leftwing illegal alien lobbies. In a debate, when your opponents turn to name calling, it's a good sign you've already won.