Revising Our Immigration Policy

Our immigration system is a mess, and I intend to clean it up.  It is absurd to admit people to the country with no hearing for four years before we decide whether they can stay!  I will lead the process of revising our immigration policies and then paying for a humane system of immigration.  Congress has avoided this revision, because it will be controversial, which has allowed some in Congress to mislead the public about what is happening at the Texas border while not taking responsibility for their part in it.  (See my comments about political lying under the section on truth above.)

I am not for “open borders.”  A nation must be in charge of who lives within its borders.  Our economy needs immigrants so that it can continue to operate at its current pace, since we are not having enough children ourselves to make enough workers for the future.  Some of these are seasonal agricultural workers who are here only part of each year.  Some are refugees from cataclysms of one sort of another around the world.  It would be to our advantage to bring in already highly educated and otherwise skilled workers when possible.  In addition, the developed countries in the world will be experiencing increasing numbers of immigrants wanting to relocate in the coming decades due to climate change, and we need to be prepared for how to handle this.

Another factor to consider is the disruptive character of immigration.  In my opinion, a society can only have so many first-generation immigrants without experiencing an undesirable amount of social tension (perhaps 15 percent?).  This is because human beings are instinctively afraid of people they cannot understand and whose actions and reactions they therefore cannot predict.

Given these factors, Congress must specify how many immigrants to admit each year and specify priorities for types and numbers of immigrants (asylum, refugee, workers with needed skills, people simply wanting a better life).  It appears that we also need to redefine the notion of asylum or the conditions for granting asylum in order to be able to process asylum applications more expeditiously.  Perhaps those who cannot immediately produce any evidence regarding their persecution will simply not be admitted.  Congress also needs to settle the Dreamers question as part of the policy revisions.

After we have a plan for whom to admit, we must treat people humanely at the border.  In my opinion, this means having enough hearing officers to hear all cases within two weeks, while people wait in comfortable facilities for this determination.  This will take quite a bit of new investment.  There are various other possible approaches, such as only admitting people with an appointment obtained outside of the U.S., requiring application at a consulate or embassy, and having some hearings on the basis of written materials only while the applicant is still in another country.  I will push Congress for needed policy revision and for the money to treat people decently.

Beyond these immigration questions, there are other issues worth serious discussion.  In my opinion, the country will do best if we approach immigration with the expectation that most immigrants will become a part of U.S. society (i.e. assimilate), rather than attempting to preserve a totally foreign existence culturally while working in our society’s economy.  Truly multi-cultural societies, where there are large groups of immigrants who live together in enclaves or areas and try to preserve some autonomy from the federal government do not work well (Netherlands, Quebec), since the problem of feared “otherness” is never solved.  In this vein, I would propose that all immigrants admitted permanently be required to apply for citizenship within two years.

Should we monitor all non-citizens in the country (tourists, students, embassy personnel from other countries, etc.), to prevent overstaying visas, etc.?  Should we require a certain level of English proficiency for the purely economic migrants?  Should we limit how many family members an immigrant can bring in more easily than if those family members came as individual immigrants?  I am personally opposed to the practice of non-citizens coming to this country solely for the purpose of having babies here so that they will automatically become U.S. citizens.

These and other immigration questions deserve our open discussion across our society so that we can hear all ideas and then develop the best compromise policies possible at this time.

We need control of who comes into the country, but first we need an updated immigration policy to define what we need to do at the border. Lean on Congress to do this!

Most asylum decisions should be made at the border within a week of entry.

Adjust your attitudes to get ready for a century of mass migrations of people into other countries.






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