You could build a wall from the far corner of Washington State to the eastern edge of Maine, and another one from Florida to California. Put up machine-gun towers with Border Patrol agents packing assualt weapons and partnered up with German Shepherds trained to attack on command. Install sensors every six inches along the border from coast-to-coast. Hire another two million Immigration agents to deport the approximately 12 million illegal aliens already here, and that should do it...right?
Wrong. That solution was already tried by several countries for more than twenty years in Rumania, Bulgaria, Russia, and other former Soviet satellite countries. This happened between World War II and lasted well into the 80's in some cases. The idea was not only to keep people from coming in, but also to prevent them from leaving. And people still managed to cross the border somehow. Desperation breeds ingenuity, and the more desperate...the more ingenious. That's human nature.
So what do we do about illegal aliens? The current system certainly isn't working, and in many cases is downright cruel to families whose only crime is fleeing oppression and poverty. If you are a nation that touts itself on freedom and human rights, ('Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore...') then you should expect people will take your word as a nation. There it is, sitting big as life in the center of New York harbor. What did you think would happen during the hundred-plus years the Statue of Liberty has existed as one of the greatest symbols of America? What did you think would happen when we looked the other way for decades, while Hispanics were flooding across almost freely to do our dirty work. Americans even helped many of them come here, because of the cheap labor. You know this type of work. Domestic service, picking crops on commercial farms, or doing the crap jobs most Americans didn't want to do. Face it. We brought this problem on ourselves. And it was done to make our crops cheaper and to avoid paying someone fair wages to scrub our floors. We advertised to the world as a nation, crowing about freedom from the rooftops, and a lot of folks decided to answer the ad.
There have been many plans put forward, but most of them lack the key ingredient for success. That ingredient is to remove the motivation for illegal immigration. This is how many European countries answer the problem, and why they have a lot less illegals than the United States does. (An exception will be made for the present refugee crisis caused by war and terrorism)
Presented here is a five-step solution that will fix the problem - permanently.
Everyone MUST Be Documented Who is Already Here
With roughly 12 million people to document, authorities will need some time to accomplish the task. Set a date in the future, perhaps three-to-five years away. Announce that anyone who comes forward and is documented within that time will not be deported, and will be issued permanent residency as long as they can pass a reasonable background check. We're not talking about whether they were caught stealing a shirt from a store in Chihuahua back in 1996, either. Everyone except major criminals or those with terrorist ties should be allowed to stay. The others will be caught sooner or later, especially if this entire plan is implemented. Read on.
Take Away the Motivation to Sneak into the U.S.
Have a National I.D. card designed by the U.S. Mint issued to all legal citizens of the United States. (Not everyone drives a car, you know.) This card should be required to do any of the following in the United States: Rent an apartment, buy, license, or register a car, get Food Stamps or Federal aid, open a bank account, register for school or college, obtain medical care, get a job, and just about anything else that normal citizens take for granted. And the requirement that you have to show this card in order to get any of those things should be timed to take effect at the same time as the you-must-come-forward-and-be-documented time limit occurs. The result of all this is that after the law goes into effect, a lot of people who would sneak across the border won't even bother to try, because they won't be able to get a job or a place to stay. One form or another of National ID is already being used in more than 90 countries. It works.
Once Documentation is Complete, Bring Down the Hammer on the Rest
After the time limit to come forward expires, and everyone has their National I.D., then when the I.N.S. catches someone who did not come forward during the amnesty period...or who is a NEW illegal...should be deported immediately and told that next time they should use the FRONT door. This sounds harsh, but the reality is that it is okay to give people a fair chance. But if they don't take the offer, then they get what they deserve.
Keep the Wall. It Serves Other Purposes
Gun-running, drugs, and those who would ignore the laws after they take effect are good examples on why the wall between Mexico and the United States should continue for now. In addition, the penalties should be stiffened against people who try to assist others in going around the rules for their own benefit. This means harsher penalties (including heavy jail time) for those who look the other way in hiring, or in other matters that would require the presentation of the National I.D. card. You need support from the entire nation to make this plan work.
Involve Hispanic Leaders in the Whole Thing - and Get Their Support
The idea here is to present this to Hispanics as the best long-term solution to everyone involved. You can't fix everything with an Executive Order, and 12 million illegals certainly can't be processed overnight, even if they all came forward together. It will take time. In this writer's opinion however, it is the best solution to the problem. The biggest reason is because it solves the problem for good. It will take some years, but in the end, discord about the issue will eventually fade to nothing. And it will separate the vast majority of 'good' undocumented folks from the reletively small group of 'bad' folks who slipped into the United States for illegal purposes, or to engage in criminal activity. Separating the wheat from the chaff will also make the Border Patrol and the INS's job a lot easier. The final benefit is that once the program is fully implemented, the people the INS does deport will probably deserve it.
(*Submitted by Northwest author Robert M. Blevins, Managing Editor for Adventure Books of Seattle)