So far, my assessment of the Gang of 8's provision in the Senate has everything to do with political jockeying for the current and future Hispanic vote and nothing to do with what is good for the US.
The Republicans on the committee are going along because they have this fantasy that at some point in time, the Hispanic voters will abandon the Democratic Party and start voting in droves for the Republicans. The Democrats are looking at a permanent enlargement of their lower income voting block when the current undocumented individuals get transformed into citizens.
Some key points in the Gang of 8's proposals:
- Everything to do with securing the border is entirely subjective, there are no concrete metrics to hold them accountable. In fact, this proposal has looser border security language than current provisions on the books.
- There is no e-verify provision to ensure only documented people are employed within our borders. This is really the only way to control the flow of illegal immigration. Right now, once an illegal gets 30 miles from the border, they have little concern of deportation.
- The language regarding criminal behavior is vague and there are no automatic barriers to citizenship. (Under the Dream Act, 99.5% of the applications for permanent resident status have been rubber stamped by the immigration folks. Even the Union folks inside the DHS are raising their eyebrows at this practice.)
What would be a sensible, less politically movtivated approach?
- Allow for a clear path to citizenship for individuals who were brought here when they were age 16 or younger. (consistent with the Dream Act) However, they need to have a clean criminal record, (no felonies, no felonies plead down to misdemeanors, etc.), are able to demonstrate financial independence by the age of 21 for themselves and any dependents, and graduated high school with a demonstrated proficiency in English.
- For individuals who entered the country when they were older than 16; these individuals will need to meet the same requirements above, however they will not be granted citizenship. If they meet the requirements, they may become permanent residents of the United States if they choose to stay. If they desire citizenship, they will have to leave the US and apply for readmission through legal immigration channels. The purpose of this is to not reward law-breakers with citizenship and to send a clear message to people desiring entry and citizenship into this country, you need to go through legal channels.
- A national employment verification system needs to be in place with specific penalties in place for companies who hire illegal workers.
Legal immigration guidelines can be redrawn and liberalized to allow more immigrants in who have needed skills and knowledge that will provide an economic benefit for the country. We already have a surplus within our borders of low-knowledge, low-skilled workers (or non-workers in some cases). Our immigration policy should be consistent with our economic needs, not the wants of our political parties.
Disclosure: Native born, US citizen. Middle Class worker for more than 40 years.