It's A Gray Area: Interpreting the 14th Amendment

March 19, 2011|By James P. Gray

Why are Arizona and an increasingly large number of other states taking their own action regarding illegal immigration? It results from the frustration of the federal government's inactivity. As was discussed in this column from July 22, 2007, Congress could resolve this problem fairly easily and quickly if it wanted to, but the reality is that it has no such desire.

Why? Because many powerful Republicans want continued access to cheap labor, and many powerful Democrats want people to continue to come here illegally with the hope that eventually they will vote for Democrats. In the meantime, countless numbers of good people are being seriously injured.

Thus, I never get mad at illegal immigrants. They are simply doing what the system so strongly encourages them to do, which is to pursue a better life for themselves and their children. Of course, this is why our ancestors came here as well!


Besides, it is often dangerous and expensive now to come into this country illegally, so there is a strong self-selection process that usually excludes all but the most hearty and dedicated. So mostly I admire them.

The solution is a simple three-step process.

First, we decide how many people we need to enter our country to perform different types of labor and how long they should stay.

Second, we issue counterfeit-proof identification cards, probably based upon fingerprints or cornea images to people from other countries who legally apply for those positions.

Third, anyone who employs workers who do not have a passport or this card would be prosecuted.

The cards would allow people to come into our country and work for a prescribed period of time, and then require them to leave. The migrant workers would have reduced benefits and tax obligations while they were here, and probably could not bring their families.

But within the specified time they could cross the border without a problem, and could have driver's licenses and access to our courts because they would be here legally. Of course, people who did not have this card would increasingly find it difficult to secure or maintain a job, so they would soon be inclined to go elsewhere.

Our present, untenable situation is also being allowed to continue because, although it has all the power, the federal government doesn't have to pay for the costs of illegal immigration. Thus, it has no particular incentive to do anything about it.

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