For more than 120 years the Statue of Liberty has stood as a beacon welcoming those who want a better life for themselves and their families. A life free of religious and political intolerance, where opportunity awaits.
America is a land of immigrants. We should remember this every time the issue of immigration comes up. We need to shape our immigration policies so that both our safety is protected and our historic kindness to strangers is maintained. We need a policy that has high walls AND wide doors.
High walls, both physical and as procedural barriers to entry need to be extended and broadened. Illegal immigration should be stopped and those who help people cross our borders illegally or who employ illegal immigrants should be punished. A sovereign nation has both a right and the duty to control its borders and immigration.
Wider doors need to be created so that the demand for the American lifestyle can be satisfied legally and in a controlled manner. We should allow more people in to work, to invest and to become citizens. Each channel of work, investment or citizenship should have its own track and clear, easy to understand rules.
One example of the work channel could be to issue a Temporary Workers ID Card to anyone who wanted to come to the USA and work for a bit. This Temporary Workers ID would have the person’s name, address, picture and other data on it. They would be allowed to work here in any job they could find (maybe at a wage higher than minimum so that U.S citizens would be offered the position first) and would be taxed like anyone would. They would also have some money withheld from each paycheck on a sliding scale that increased with time that would go into a savings account for them and which they could get ONLY once they were back in their country of origin. The automatic savings would start at 10% the first year and increase by another 10% each year so that by year 10 they were not making any money at all. It would all be going into the savings account. This would give them a big incentive to work a few years and then go home. After all, the longer they worked here, the less money they would make and if they went home, they could collect a bonus in the form of their savings account. An advantage this system has is that we would be able to track all foreign workers, something we cannot do now, and we would be able to see which ones may be working “off the books” if somehow they are contributing 100% of their income to the savings account and yet still able to live here.
An example of the citizenship channel could be time and effort. Being a citizen of the United States of America is the best thing in the world. If you really want to be a citizen and enjoy all the benefits it has for yourself and your family you will need to prove yourself. You will need to put in time and effort like:
• Living here a minimum of 10 years.
• Learning English.
• Having a steady job.
• Getting and maintaining car and health insurance.
• Taking and passing citizenship exams on the Constitution and U.S. History.
• Not commit any crimes.
• Or serve in the Military or Volunteer for a local civic non-profit for at least 3 years.
Your steps toward citizenship through each one of these tasks will be monitored yearly and progress must be quantitatively demonstrated and improved upon each year until successful completion. Becoming a U.S. Citizen should not be easy, but it also should not be so hard to drive good people into an illegal lifestyle.
I am a third generation American and I welcome your comments.