A workable path to citizenship
Most conservatives recoil at the thought of granting a path to citizenship to 11 million illegal aliens, as the Biden administration wants to do. Yes, I used the term illegal alien because it is not a pejorative — it simply is what it is. However, we must at least consider a path to citizenship, since it is highly doubtful that the government will come up with any sort of acceptable way or gain the popular support necessary to deport 11 million people. The political fallout would be tremendous, which is why we haven't deported all these people already.
You can cry all night about how unfair it is to other people hoping to immigrate legally (my wife immigrated following the rules), but the fact is that most of these people are here to stay. Fortunately, America can absorb this current level of unplanned immigration, but we cannot support the continued growth of unqualified immigration for long.
It is far better to get it under control now so that future immigration consists of people with the talent and skill that benefit our nation. We can do this in a way that benefits everyone, even if it requires some hard political compromises.
So is there a workable plan? I outline my concept below, but it must absolutely start with control of our own borders. In fact, a good compromise for Congress is to finish the border wall in return for allowing most of the current illegal aliens to work toward U.S. citizenship.
This cohort of aliens is mostly benefiting us by providing low-wage workers, cheaper food production, etc., that many people don't take into consideration when discussing immigration. There are some economic tradeoffs, and not all illegal aliens are simply draining the country of resources.
The program — that is, the path to citizenship — must be disciplined and controlled.
First, illegal aliens must immediately identify themselves to immigration authorities, where they will be issued a unique identity card for this program. They must do so by a specific date, and failure to identify oneself, or lying about where one came from, when, and with whom, is an automatic disqualification from the program. Those who absolutely refuse to identify their home country are simply incarcerated or deported to countries based upon government investigations.
Second, ICE must perform background checks on these aliens. Anyone with a criminal history or serious charges in the U.S. would be ineligible for citizenship and deported. Previous deportees would not be eligible.
Third, any minors brought illegally into the country before they turned 18 could be given the opportunity to apply for citizenship at age 25 because they had no say in their move to the U.S. Any minors who join the military or work in other select programs benefiting the country for three years would get automatic citizenship, potentially by age 21.
Fourth, aliens requesting asylum will have their cases heard eventually, but, barring any of the disqualifications above, they will receive an identity card allowing them to work until such a time as their cases are heard. In the meantime, they must stay out of trouble, be employed, pay taxes, and work toward U.S. citizenship.
Fifth, no aliens in the program would be allowed to vote. Period. That is a right exclusively reserved for citizenship, and this would apply at the state and local level, too.
Sixth, after ten years in the program, and before fifteen years have passed — and assuming they have not gotten into any serious legal trouble — aliens who were 18 and older when they arrived in the country would be required to apply for and achieve citizenship in the normal way. They must prove that they have been employed, paid taxes, and have a U.S. sponsor who can attest to their fitness for citizenship. Eligibility requirements for sponsors would prevent abuse of this aspect of the program.
Barring extreme circumstances such as a physical disability, they cannot have been on government welfare for more than 15% of their total time in the program.
Seventh, those aliens in the program who fail to attain citizenship for any reason other than the written citizenship test would be deported to their home countries and may be incarcerated while waiting for deportation.
Could a program like this work? Absolutely. It is far better than the vague programs underway currently. In essence, immediately stopping further illegal immigration, ridding ourselves of the truly bad actors, and providing ways for honest and hardworking aliens to attain U.S. citizenship are in all of our interest. We cannot ignore the economic trouble that will result from continued and even increased illegal immigration going forward, and the scale, cost, and political fallout associated with 11 million deportations make this program the only workable answer.
Image: Illegal aliens in California's Central Valley. YouTube screen grab.