Saturday, July 3, 2010

Welcome to America!

I listened with interest to President Obama’s speech on immigration this week. His intentions seemed sincere, but his excuse that those mean old Republicans are responsible for the mess in our immigration system without offering any reasonable way to break what appears to be an impasse really bothered me.

From my limited, but close and personal, experience with a number of immigrants, both legal and illegal, I believe that the vast numbers of them arrived by one means or another during the Clinton years. Our nation welcomed them with open arms to clean our houses, mow our lawns, do our nails (but probably not our hair), and other jobs that they developed skills and interest in. If we felt slightly uncomfortable when “Nannygate” occurred, it didn’t stop most of us from ignoring the status of those we found to be above average providers of various services.

Most live in fear of getting caught without a driver's license, health insurance, or papers. Their children, mostly being citizens, fear their parents being taken away for a minor offense. In a way they are like slaves in their chosen country, although all seem to find that preferable to returning to dismal conditions in their own country.

We are already educating their children born in America, many of whom are excelling in school and now reaching college age. As they do, the schools are beginning to realize that their valedictorian might not be eligible for college, because his parents brought him here as a very small child, and he is not native-born.

We are already providing some hospital care, generally only in emergencies because most of the ones I know pay their own medical expenses in cash or do without needed services for fear of being deported.

Now for my solution, which might even to appeal to the mean old Republicans.

We could most likely reduce taxes for many of the rest of us by simply providing a reasonable path to citizenship for the population who is non-native born American, but who have been in the country long enough to accumulate some assets, educate their children, and learn English. If they were offered the same obligations as privileges that other Americans enjoy (except on April 15 every year) everybody wins.

What might these immigrants consider a reasonable “bribe” to pay the United States Government for legalization? I’m guessing that for most of them, somewhere between $500 and $2000 per adult family member for citizenship would be a realistic fee. Some have probably paid some black market person at least that much for fake identification that does not assure their protection from deportation. In addition to the fee or penalty, these new citizens could sign an agreement to pay Social Security, Medicare, and Income Taxes in the future and join some sort of medical plan. (Perhaps all this could be regulated by requiring them to have some sort of bank account for all earnings and end the underground economy for good.)

With the enactment of the new policy, additional legislation could end the practice of declaring all born on our soil automatic citizens.

Voila, our problem of what to do with all these families where children are citizens and parents are illegals would disappear along with at least some of our budget problems. Their taxes would help to care for them in their old age and in case of illness.

It’s not that hard! President Obama and all you others that hold the keys to freedom for this underground community, let’s get going and do something about it, and finally welcome these potentially very productive citizens to America and ask of them the same things we ask of all citizens, that you pay your fair share.

I hope that the priviledges that I enjoy as a citizen will one day be available to all people worldwide. Until that day, I hope I have empathy for those who flee abuse and hunger and welcome them as children of the world.