Last night, during his speech on immigration, President Obama told the GOP to "pass a bill". In principle, I agree. Congress, not the president, has the power of enacting law. Therefore, when the new Congress is seated this coming January, here's what I would like to see in a bill to reform our "broken" immigration system:
1) First and foremost is border security. The border must be secured to the satisfaction of the citizens of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. To that end, any money previously allocated for border fence construction must be actually used for that purpose. The Border Patrol and any other federal or state agencies used to protect the border should be given the resources needed carry out this function.
2) The states must be allowed, without federal interference, to enact legislation that improves the ability of state and local law enforcement officers to ascertain the citizenship and immigration status of anyone they arrest. Federal and state law enforcement officers should strive to work together, not against each other, to identify those who are illegally present in the United States.
3) The ability of illegal aliens who trespass on private property owned by American citizens or legal immigrants to sue property owners who act to defend their property should be greatly curtailed. Illegal aliens caught trespassing should have the right to sue the property owner(s) or those acting on his/her/their behalf only if the alien(s) suffer(s) harm that is physical (which would include unlawful detention, but not emotional stress), deliberate, and in a degree above the amount necessary to defend the property.
4) The practice of automatically granting citizenship to the children of illegal aliens born on U.S. soil, such children commonly called "anchor babies", should be discontinued. Contrary to a common misconception, this practice is not grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, but in a distortion thereof. In order to be born an American citizen, a person must not only be born on American soil, but also "subject to" American jurisdiction. This language, meant originally to confer citizenship on people who had previously been enslaved before the Civil War, was not intended to apply to babies born to illegal aliens or other non-citizens. Birthright citizenship should be conferred only onto children with at least one parent who is either a U.S. citizen or a legally present alien.
5) Penalties should be increased for Americans who knowingly employ illegal aliens. In my view, a year in prison might be a good mandatory minimum. The actual penalties, which could depend on the number of illegal aliens employed and the length of their employment, may be debated by Congress. Similar penalty enhancement could be made for the crime of knowingly aiding and abetting illegal aliens, such as providing false ID's.
6) Enrollment at American colleges and universities should be limited to only three classes of people: American citizens, legally present aliens (a.k.a. legal immigrants), and foreign holders of student visas. Every enrollment given to an illegal alien is one unjustly denied to someone from one of the three thus-mentioned categories.
7) There needs to be a way, or maybe a better way, to track foreign visa holders, so that they will not overstay their visas and become illegal aliens. Congress could consider creating a requirement to report to the appropriate authorities at various intervals, or within a period preceding the expiration date. If such a requirement already exists, Congress could consider making it stricter, or improving its enforcement.
8) The legal immigration system should be reviewed, to see where it can be made more efficient and easier to comply with, for those who are willing to immigrate into the United States in a manner that respects and obeys our laws. Congress can also debate whether the amount of legal immigrants taken in every year should be increased or decreased, by how much, and from which countries.
9) After all of the above items are taken up, and the first item accomplished to the satisfaction of the citizens of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, Congress may take up the possible legalization of some illegal aliens currently present in the United States, in other words, a partial amnesty. This legalization should not be offered to illegal aliens who have been either convicted of at least one felony in the United States or have re-entered after being imported. The precise terms and conditions of this partial amnesty should be worked out by Congress.