A Moral Proposal on Comprehensive Immigration Reform


We are facing an immigration crisis. There are as many as 20 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States and many more coming. These modern pilgrims are coming to the United States to work and participate in the better economic and educational opportunities found here. For the most part, they and their families are honest, hard working and respectable individuals, who pay their bills, obey the law and are willing to pay taxes. Most are from Mexico, Central America and South America. Often they share a common heritage with the United States in that all of our ancestors have been colonists or pilgrims looking for freedom, or economic opportunity in a new land.

It is not unusual to find illegal aliens that have become non-resident Americans: having lived in the United States for decades. It is in this country that they have grown up, been educated, found work and built families. In these situations, deporting them to a country that they do not know is not only expensive and unnecessary but also cruel.

There are also newly arrived illegal immigrants.

Besides the respectable new arrival or long time interloper looking for an opportunity to work in order to support themselves and their family, there are those few that are involved in gangs or drug trafficking, etc. These are the not individuals and groups that we are discussing in this article. They are criminals and need to be treated as such in accordance with the law.

The debate about immigration reform has been ongoing for a very long time. It was a debate topic in the 2012 presidential election. To wit:

The 2012 Democratic Platform calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that: brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and requires them to get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship. …Prioritiz(es) the deportation of criminals who endanger our communities over the deportation of immigrants who do not pose a threat… fight for the DREAM Act legislation ensuring that young people who want to contribute fully to our society and serve our country are able to become legal residents and ultimately citizens. 

The 2012 Republican Party Platform calls for us to: “…oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by intentional violation of the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it; …Support the mandatory use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (S.A.V.E.) …prior to the granting of any State of federal government entitlements or IRS refunds; … Use of the E-verify program; …protect (Americans) from illegal labor in the workplace; … keep dangerous but undeportable aliens off of our streets; …expedite expulsion of criminal aliens, and make gang membership a deportable offense; …create a new guest worker program; …(finally build) the double-layered fencing on the border; …(deny) federal funding to …sanctuary cities; …deny federal funding …to universities that provide instate tuition rates to illegal aliens; ..support English as the nation’s official language.

Of course, underlying all of this are votes. It is assumed that most individuals impacted by any reform will vote for Democratic candidates. The vote issue would appear to have a great influence upon the party’s platforms. Accordingly, the Democrats favor forgiveness and a path to citizenship thus garnering future votes: the Republicans not so much.

Glen Beck, in dealing with the recent influx of children crossing the border hit upon the concept of Justice and Mercy. I think this core philosophy is directly applicable and can lead to a meaningful solution to the problem. Justice cannot be denied for Mercy cannot overcome her. For without Justice you have anarchy. Yet, Justice without Mercy would result in a tyrannical state with no heart.

To enter this country illegally is to defy the concept of our national sovereignty and in so doing to willingly denigrate our nation’s law. No person(s) having so violated our law should ever be granted citizenship except through a possible military service exemption. To do so would be to defy Justice. This however, does not take into account the nature of the offender, the lives and intentions of the individuals arriving here, or the history of good citizenship and the contributions they have made since being here. In mitigation, by combining the two platforms a compromise can be achieved. Justice and mercy can both be upheld. Such a solution could allow for:

  • “A guest worker program, which brings the undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.”
  • All participants must have or be able to maintain a history of employment and obedience to the law. They must pay all legally required taxes.
  • There will never be a path to citizenship or amnesty for these “who, by intentional violation of the law, disadvantaged those who have obeyed it.” Neither for the individuals or the children they bring with them. (There may be a military service exemption to this rule.) However, with participation in the guest worker program and after having met certain criteria, those who qualify are welcome to stay, work, own a home, and raise their children.
  • Children born and raised here can become citizens in accordance with current law.
  • Those in the guest worker program will be provided the opportunity for assistance in “learning English,” which will remain our nations official language.
  • Verification for Entitlements will be required “prior to the granting of any State or federal entitlements or IRS refunds.
  • Employers will ensure that no individual, other than US Citizens, those who have work visas, “guest worker status”, or otherwise are legally permitted to work within the US are employed. E-verify or similar software will be used by employers to ensure compliance. Employers violating this law will face stiff penalties.
  • Anyone with a felony conviction will not be eligible for participation. Those convicted of a felony while participating in the program will lose “guest worker” status and will be deported.
  • Gang membership is a deportable offense and a disqualifier for participation in the “guest worker” program.
  • Sanctuary Cities will lose all Federal funding. Other penalties may be used to enforce the effect of National Law.
  • Guest workers who pay their taxes qualify for all government services including; medical, welfare, education, Social Security, in-state tuition when otherwise applicable, etc.

While tax-paying participants would be eligible for government services, they will have very limited rights of citizenship. After all, citizenship should have its privileges. Accordingly, participants would have:

  • Limited right to expression. May not criticize the government; join unions, etc.
  • Freedom to worship as they wish.
  • No right to trial by jury (judge trial only.) Would not be called upon to perform jury duty.
  • No right to vote. (A voter ID system would need to be agreed upon.)
  • No right to run for elected office.
  • No right to work for the government except service in the Armed Forces.
  • May own property.

With no sanctuary cities and E-verify in place those who in the future illegally cross the border would no longer be able to find employment. Once the employment opportunity is gone the numbers of those crossing the border will quickly diminish. Vicente Fox eloquently pointed out that fences don’t work. Instead he suggested that the money for a fence could be put to better use in forging an US/Canada/Mexico economic alliance using northern technology and Mexican labor. It is a good concept.  Currently a number of US based companies are successfully using Mexican labor to compete in an ever more competitive global market.

Admittedly this is a rough idea with a lot of work to be done on the details. Those issues however, would not seem to be insurmountable for a government that is serious about resolving this issue. The plan takes pieces from both parties’ platforms and is built upon a compilation of both parties stated objectives. The one thing missing is a resolution to the vote issue. It has been set-aside on purpose concentrating on a road to solution rather than politics

Answers are available to resolving the current immigration crisis if we but step outside the partisan political arena. It only takes a willingness to set aside partisian politics for the good of our nation and people who live and work here.


Samuel Waen Jensen

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About Waen

Educated through Golden Gate University's MPA program and previously employed in Human Resources by the Federal Government and Higher Education, Waen is now retired from working 8 to 5 and is writing about Politics, Life and a little Religion.
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