You know, as a conservative... I'm really interested in trying to find compromise and consensus on immigration in the U.S. This is my rough draft proposal, organized as follows...
1) The Position of Conservatives on the Issue
2) The Position of Liberals on the Issue
3) The Compromise Goals
4) The Proposed Compromise
1. Conservative Positions:
Border Security: The right wants the borders secure. We want this for two reasons 1) to properly control immigration and 2) security from those who would do us great harm (including criminals and terrorists).
The polarizing buzzword around this is "the wall". As a concept... I support the wall as a very important part of the overall solution, as is surveillance and manpower, and policy/penalties for trying to illegally cross our borders.
No Amnesty: By this, conservatives mean, no automatic citizenship for those here illegally (by their own volition or not). Some extend this even to legal residence... I do not. So please note that I said no automatic citizenship... over residency (there is a difference). But I think conservatives could find consensus and compromise on this with certain concessions (such as weeding out the criminals, etc.)
Merit Based Immigration: By this the right means we need to change our overall immigration policy to look at the people we are legally letting in. We want the best educated and the best able to assimilate into American society. Overall, we believe immigration policy should be set up to accomplish this. This would mean a complete end to expansive chain migration (allow spouse, minor children, that's it). This would also mean a complete end to random lottery immigration.
The Sins of the Conservatives: The conservatives have ignored immigration issues in the past because they want cheap labor for business. Conservatives need to give this up as part of the compromise.
2. Liberal Positions: (please excuse conservative perspective)
Amnesty: The left wants almost all illegal aliens currently in the nation legalized even to the extent of automatic citizenship to most of them (see DACA)
Porous Border Security: The left likes the past and current porous border, they see it as the source of the new voters they currently seek the legalize and hope to repeat the process every ten to twent years. (This is at least the 2nd go-round.) This policy is all about "fundamentally transforming" America by diluting the culture. Some on the ultra-fringe-left go so far as to advocate for completely open borders (This is a non-starter).
Open Immigration: The left likes immigration policy the way it is (except maybe for wanting increased volume). The more means (chain, lottery, etc…) of bringing in more immigrants the better, with no consideration to much of anything (skills, language, disposition, etc.)
The Sins of the Liberals: The liberals have ignored immigration issues because they want to use policy to import new liberal (government dependent) voters. Liberals need to give this up as part of the compromise.
3. Compromise Goals:
I recommend that both sides give and take with the following goals in mind...
-- Secure the borders
-- Fair and equitable disposition of current illegal aliens
-- Overhaul of current immigration policy and procedure
4. Proposed Compromise:
I generally like legislation to be done piece meal. "Comprehensive" generally means so complex and convoluted that nobody understands it making it ineffective or worse. BUT in this case, we have little choice. If one side gets what it wants (the left amnesty or the right the wall), there is no longer any need or inclination to help the other side with its goals and concerns. So, I propose (as a starting point) the following compromise...
The right gets: Greatly expanded border security, including walls where walls make sense. Security is greatly enhanced by other means, including surveillance, man-power, and new policies (like immediate deportation of those apprehended). Measurable minimum success rates are coded into law. The borders must be secure in substance, not just appearance.
The right gives up: The concept of a big comprehensive physical wall along the southern border.
The right gives up: The current porous border supplying them with current and future cheap labor.
The left gets: The moral victory of stopping the big comprehensive physical wall along the southern border.
The left gives up: The current porous border supplying them with current and future voters.
A means of settling once and for all the legal status of all current illegal aliens needs to be implemented.
1) DACA members will be given permanent legal residence (not citizenship), green cards, etc... The caveat is that each must pass a criminal background check (see below). Their children will be citizens. A means (pathway) for DACA members to become citizens will be available. That means (to become citizens) will be the exact same process that all other immigrants go though. No jumping in line is only fair.
2) Other illegal aliens (not covered by DACA) will be given a certain about of time to go through the existing process to apply for residency or citizenship. They must do that or leave the country. All who are still here illegal after that time as subject to expedited deportation.
With the above in mind the current immigration application process needs to be overhauled. It is a bureaucratic nightmare. The process should not take more than 6 months and not require herds of lawyers to navigate. This little edge of the swamp needs to be immediately drained (and those responsible for the mess, fired).
Also, with the above in mind all illegal immigrants (DACA and otherwise) need to pass a criminal background check before they are eligible for residence or citizenship. If you have been convicted of a certain level of crime and higher (say theft, robbery, gang activity, etc.), you are not eligible for residence or citizenship and must leave or face deportation.
The left gets: Legalized status for a substantial subset of current illegal aliens.
The left gives up: Immediate citizenship (and thus votes) of any illegal aliens in the short term.
The right gets: Culling out the criminal element from the illegal aliens now legalized.
The right gives up: Mass deportations
America gets: The immigration processing swamp drained.
Legal Immigration Overhaul:
We need to completely revamp the purpose of our immigration policy. Many from all over the world want to come here. We should be very selective.
1) We need to set a specific number of legal immigrants allowed in on a yearly basis. (Side Note: As an incentive to securing the border, I would add reducing this number by the number of illegal immigrants that are allowed in.)
2) Preference should be given based on merits such as education, language, and disposition to assimilate.
As stated above the legal immigration process is currently a bureaucratic nightmare rife with corruption; that needs to be town up by the roots and rebuilt from scratch.
America gets: The immigration processing swamp drained.
America gets: Fewer low skilled workers, less drain on resources, more higher skilled workers, and greater contribution to the prosperity of the nation.
The right gets: A new logical, sane immigration policy based on merit.
The right gives up: The abundance of cheap new immigrant labor.
The left gets: A new logical, sane immigration policy based on merit.
The left gives up: The decades old system designed to fundamentally transform America through cultural dilution.
If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I would be very much interested in knowing...
-- What did I get wrong (assumptions, etc)...
-- If this is even feasible as a starting point from your political perspective.
-- What you would change or tweak on the proposal.