The Republicans should cease negotiating with the President and the Democrats in Congress on immigration matters and offer a streamlined proposal of targeted updates and changes to the immigration system. It should be a take it our leave it offer that would focus on business visas, border security, and nothing else.
A take it or leave it approach, will give the politically paranoid wing of our Party with a talking point for the November mid-term elections: Republicans offered a real bill and the Democrats said no. It also telegraphs to Latin American governments, get serious about border security. The days of economic and political bailouts are coming to a close.
While I’m not an immigration lawyer, I have worked alongside noted experts in this field of law. And if there is one thing I’ve learned from them is that demand for entry to the United States will always be great, with or without reform. And if you study the social, political, and economic challenges from the countries of immigration origination, this makes sense. People want to come here because most of the rest of the world is an economic and political basket case.
U.S. policy makers have wasted precious time securing our border system, north, south, east, and west. Our legal, regulatory, and law enforcement system must telegraph to would-be immigration law breakers, you best think twice before over staying a business visa, crossing the border illegally, or breaking the law while you’re here legally. After the terror attacks of 09.11.01, it can be no other way.
The United States must also communicate to our allies throughout the Western Hemisphere, indeed the world, that they too must take responsibility for strong border security. Our most immediate challenge comes from Central America, including Mexico, as well as the Caribbean, but there are trouble spots in other regions as well. Congress and the President must put enforceable and measurable goals in various U.S. foreign policy programs such as foreign assistance and foreign military sales (FMS).
Yleem and I have posted on this issue before. Search the blog for “immigration” posts and you’ll find a few posts dating back several years. Ay For example, add a border security clause to all foreign assistance bills. Such a provision would require that the Secretary of State withhold assistance from a country until the Secretary certifies to the Congress that a recipient country is a satisfying statutorily-required list of border security measures. This list must include carrots and sticks to ensure compliance.
In addition to border security, and to better ensure American economic competitiveness, the business visa programs need some serious updating. It would be great if the United States had all the scientists and engineers it needed, but the experts say it does not and we are years from attaining such a goal, if ever. Higher education needs to step in and fill that gap, but in the meantime, the private sector needs to bring to the United States the best talent it can find anywhere in the world. The current legal and regulatory system is broken and, Congressional hearings show, prone to abuse.
Congressional hearings at the US-Mexico border this week is a step in the right direction; however, incremental updating of current laws is needed today as well as serious consideration to placing US troops at the border. If the United States is sending advisers and billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to secure borders in faraway places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, it must do the same here.