I am in favor of immigration reform. I am also wary of reforms granted now for a promise of border security later. In 1986, Ronald Reagan signed a deal that made just such a promise, yet we are still waiting for the border security that never came. Conservatives are also still waiting for the promised three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in tax hikes. Fool me once … So, it is understandable conservatives should insist that any immigration reform incorporate the principle of trust but verify.
In that vein, I approach these efforts in good faith. I will advance both immigration reform and verifiable border security. Under my plan for comprehensive reform the US would begin with prioritizing Visas for immigrants with advanced degrees, the so-called STEM Visas and an immediate expansion of the work Visa program. These reforms would happen immediately.
But, as a matter of both national security and immigration policy, it is absolutely essential that we both secure our border and modernize our visa system so we know who comes and who goes on travel, student and other temporary visas.
And it is vital all other reforms be conditioned on this goal being met.
Border Security, including drones, satellite, and physical barriers, vigilant deportation of criminals and increased patrols would begin immediately and be assessed at the end of one year by an investigator general from the General Accountability Office. Most importantly, and in contrast with any other plan out there, my plan will insist that report be presented to Congress for a vote. If, and only if Congress agreed that border security was progressing, then more reforms would ensue. If we can't secure our border, and if we cannot prove we can modernize our system of issuing and tracking visas, we cannot take on the task of adding more people to our system.
After ensuring border security, then I would normalize the status of the 11 million undocumented citizens so they can join the workforce and pay taxes. I would normalize them at a rate of about 2 million per year. I would start with Dream Act kids, children brought here illegally as minors. Normalization would get them a temporary Visa but would not put them ahead of anyone already waiting to enter the country. These undocumented persons would now be documented but they would still have to wait in line like everyone else. But their path to permanent legal status would be no faster than those currently waiting in line.
I share the goal of a working immigration system, and a new approach to allowing those here in our country who want to work and stay out of trouble to stay here. But I will not repeat the mistakes of the past when vague promises were made and not kept. Would I hope that when they become citizens, these new immigrants will remember Republicans who made this happen? Yes. But my support for immigration reform comes not from political expediency but because it's the right thing to do.
It makes sense to me. We need to have more educated, skilled immigrants into this country as well as verifiable improvements in our border security. Also, our normalization efforts should not let illegals jump ahead of the line of legal immigrants, who are just as deserving of US residency status. Personally, I would probably rather have something in there about limiting public funds that could go to illegal immigrants (or those previously illegal) but that might cause too much of a firestorm.