Friday, July 06, 2007

We Need Immigration Reform

I’m sorry an immigration reform bill didn’t get passed. Maybe not this immigration reform bill, although I think that with a lot of tweaking it would have been OK.

Logically, legal immigration is good for the United States. The primary reason immigration is good for us it that immigrants fill jobs that would be vacant otherwise. Many of the jobs immigrants fill require high skills and education that too few of our citizens possess.

I recently observed that many of our “best and brightest” go to college to pursue hobbies, not professions.

Recent news articles detail how the top high school graduates are disproportionately females, and that females make up an increasing majority in colleges. Also noted in passing was that there is still a gender divide in education, with comparatively few females entering mathematics, science, and engineering.

Hidden at the bottom of a few articles is the disclosure that, among the many higher degrees our colleges award each year in mathematics and the hard sciences, very few go to American citizens.

Heaven forbid I would be critical of someone following their dream of understanding the impact of Feng Shui on California home design (I think I just was), but moreover, California needs graduates who can understand the impact of earthquakes on all sorts of California structures.

But I digress. (Not really)

What the United States needs is all of those advanced degrees in the hard subjects that Americans, for the most part, aren’t pursuing. The cutesy, kitschy things will always attract interest, and there will be a market for them, but the fundamental advances in science, medicine, mathematics, and engineering will continue to propel the largest and strongest economy the world has ever seen.

Increasingly, America’s demand for the raw materials of progress -- brain power, education, skills – will have to be imported.

In imperialist times, nations fueled the Industrial Revolution with raw materials taken from their colonies. Today we practice a benign imperialism of minds, not materials.


Yes, benign, because the education, skills, and intelligence we import to meet our needs could not be better employed anywhere else in the world.

There are geniuses in the jungle (or the favelas, or the Sowetos of the world), but they will have to come to America to employ their abilities to their highest potential.

We also need a lot of ignorant, unskilled, and uneducated workers in the United States.

How can I say such a terrible thing?

Simple. Because we already have a lot of ignorant, unskilled, and uneducated workers here illegally.

If we didn’t want them, they wouldn’t be here.

They’re not going away, you know.

What to do then?

We could continue doing what we have done, which is to vainly try to cut off the supply at our borders, even as our demand for cheap labor goes higher and higher.

As our twelve million illegal immigrant population continues to grow ever more rapidly, it's obvious that cutting supply is not working, so what will we do?

Naturally, we will pass more laws and work even harder to reduce the supply.

Remember the definition of insanity?

Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result each time?

What are the problems with illegal aliens in the United States?

One, not knowing who is here, and where they are.
Two, lowering respect for the law by haphazard enforcement of our immigration laws.
Three, providing services paid for by taxes to illegal residents who pay little taxes.
Four, continuing a system that lowers legal workers’ wages, and allows unscrupulous employers to take advantage of illegal workers.
Five, damaging illegal workers’ families left behind, while hurting the economies of the alien workers’ native countries.
Six, making it more difficult for aliens to assimilate by confining them in illegal alien communities.
Seven, promoting a climate of “don’t ask, don’t enforce” concerning illegal aliens’ auto registration, auto insurance, and drivers’ licenses.
Eight, overloading our medical and social service systems to the point they are inadequate for the needs of our own citizens, as well as for illegal ones.
Nine, increased drug dealing and gang activities.

What are the advantages?

First, the illegal aliens do work cheaply that our own citizens shun.
Two, as our population ages, and population growth slows, illegal aliens help keep our economy growing and strong.
Three, the illegal aliens for the most part are here to work, and want to work. If not, they wouldn’t have made the long dangerous trek from their native lands.

Regardless of advantages and disadvantages, millions of illegal immigrants are here, more are coming, few are leaving, and that will not miraculously change. Therefore, we need to do something that makes sense, not just smoke and hot air.

What would that be?

First, create a virtual open door for skilled and educated immigrants and their immediate families. They don’t just take jobs, they create jobs.

Second, require all new employees to have a tamper-proof national identity card, and phase in the requirement for all employees to possess such a card within ten years.

Third, issue the identity cards to any and all who can show proof of identity, and assign each a social security account number.

Fourth, allow illegal aliens to apply for residence if they can prove past employment and residency, plus pay a fine for entering illegally. Allow them to apply for citizenship when they can meet language, knowledge, and residence requirements.

Fifth, don’t approve immigration of family members other than the spouse and dependent children.

What I propose is unabashedly amnesty for illegal immigrants in terms of permitting them legal resident status.

It is also a wide-open invitation to immigration by highly educated or highly skilled people and their immediate families world wide, as long as they can pass a thorough background security check.

This in no way is deserting or compromising my conservative principles. It honors my ideals of free markets, which I think includes the market for educated and skilled employees, and recognizes that many unskilled and uneducated illegal immigrants have become a vital part of the economic fabric of our country.

I don’t have to agree with what they’ve done to recognize it as a fait accompli, and to encourage us to make the best of what we have.

Let’s not choke on our lemons, and make sour faces, let's make some lemonade.

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