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Jun 11th 2007

Open Letter to Congress on the Current Immigration Proposal

I emailed this letter to my senators and representatives today. Contrast the ideas presented here with my other ideas: top five illegal immigration solutions. — Travis

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Please do not support, or encourage your colleagues in Congress to support, any immigration proposal that would allow people who have broken our laws to stay in the country.

This new immigration proposal is a distraction from the duty our government already has: to enforce our existing laws. We do not need hundreds of pages of new law. There is a simpler, more moderate, and more ready solution available. It is this: (1) Enforce the laws already on the books and (2) promise those who have broken our immigration laws in the past that we will not hold their lawlessness against them and allow them to apply for a future guest-worker program if they promptly (within say six months) leave our country and stay out until the program is established. This scenario makes the prize dependent on their compliance, not the other way around. To provide them with immediate probationary status and a path to citizenship before our border is secure and our other immigration laws are strictly enforced only invites more lawlessness, both now and in the future.

Although it is not amnesty, the current proposal allows those who have broken our laws to jump ahead of those who have long been awaiting a legal path to U.S. employment and/or citizenship. To favor, for legalization status, anyone who has spurned our laws over other potential immigrants and/or workers is simply unfair and immoral. For the Congress to allow them to stay, pay a fine, and essentially leapfrog millions of people who are attempting to immigrate legally to the United States is shameful.

The United States has immigration laws on the books. Its citizens need your help in enforcing them. We need to fund the wall extension that was recently authorized and deport illegal aliens whose identities become known to USCIS — Especially those who have committed crimes, and especially if those crimes were violent ones. There is no excuse for merely increasing fines for violent criminals. Do not give them the opportunity to become legal residents of our country, or unremovable American citizens.

The hypothetical “mass deportation” scenario you may hear about is completely ridiculous. As others have pointed out, this will not be necessary. When drivers expect a speed trap on the highway, they drive within the speed limit. And like deterring speeding on the highway, the more often an immigration law requiring deportation is enforced against selected individuals, the more everyone else will choose to comply with it. Add a carrot to this conspicuous enforcement (like permitting those who broke our laws and returned to their country in a timely manner to apply, without penalty, for a future guest-worker program) and you have got yourself a decent proposal.

There are many problems with the “mass deportations” myth, as perpetuated by open borders advocates. I just drove across the country in my beat up, old, 1998 Jeep Cherokee with my wife and three week-old daughter. We drove over 2000 miles so I could begin an internship at the end of May. In August, we will make the return trip home. As poor college students, we packed most of the essential items we own into the car. While the family trip was difficult, it was far from impossible. An immigrant family could make such a trip voluntarily, by car, by bus, or by plane and return to their homeland. Those who were smuggled into the country by coyotes in treacherous desert crossings will surely have an easier time going out than they did coming in. Those from overseas who have overstayed their visas can catch a plane home. If necessary, those with proper identification could apply for a one-time travel assistance stipend so they could make the trip voluntarily. It could be that simple.

I am not anti-immigration. Neither am I anti-Hispanic, or anti-Mexican, or anything of that sort. I am not a racist or a xenophobe. I have worked doing immigration law for the past two summers. In actuality, I would like to see increased immigration, because I believe the best, smartest, hardest working, most law abiding, and most skilled people in the world should want to come to America, and that we should welcome their contributions. However, our broken borders and unenforced laws have induced a waterfall of people to cascade into our land, without any accounting of their desire to work or to support themselves, their level of education, skill, or even health status. A large percentage, we have learned, are high school dropouts, a status that brings as many social problems with it as it does economic ones. It will not be the end of the world to encourage them to leave and return to our country on our terms, not theirs. Forced deportations of millions will not be required as most will go voluntarily by choice when they see the laws are being enforced.

Thank you for listening. For the sake of our country, I hope you make the right choice. When you do, please urge your colleagues to do the same.

Travis

12 Responses to “Open Letter to Congress on the Current Immigration Proposal”

  1. doug

    Amen.

  2. Especially when we start doing what Mitt Romney and others say and penalize companies that hire illegals as if they aren’t paying taxes…illegal immigrants will feel like there is more work back home in Latin America or wherever. 🙂

    Ever since listening to Newt Gingrich speak about this about a year ago, I was impressed with the argument that if these people were able to somehow get here (and illegally for that matter) then it is logical that they can go back to their country. (HELLO)

    Your real life example of driving across the country is great and I hope people use that kind of common sense and stop following a welfare state mentality that advocates a pansy lifestyle.

  3. N Chung

    Your proposal has “MORAL HAZARD” written all over it. If a tourist wanted to cut travel costs, all he has to do is overstay his visa, show his ID, and he gets a discount on his plane ticket home.

  4. travis

    are you brain dead? or did this post just create a “COMPREHENSION HAZARD” for you? are you aware that the US forcefully deports people now completely at our expense? yet you don’t see people lining up at the gates of the local ICE (immigration and customs enforcement) office to get a free plane ride back to mexico.

    if there was any likelihood of abuse of the stipend, the government could reduce this by imposing limits (like they do on welfare benefits, etc). they could award it only to heads of household who can prove they earn a below-poverty-level income, or to heads of household with unemployed dependents or minor children. they could limit voluntary departure to those here at the time of the passage of the bill. anyone who comes in after the bill passes should not get the benefit of voluntary departure, anyway. they should probably be subject to forced removal.

  5. N Chung

    Review your Econ 110 notes, because you are not familiar with what a moral hazard is.

    “are you aware that the US forcefully deports people now completely at our expense? yet you don’t see people lining up at the gates of the local ICE (immigration and customs enforcement) office to get a free plane ride back to mexico.”

    This is not about illegals waiting to go back to Mexico. Of course they want to stay, that’s why they’re here. A moral hazard is when the promise of compensation induces one to engage in risky behavior. If you pay visa overstayers for their plane ride home, you will induce tourists who plan on returning home anyway to just overstay their visas and get a free ticket. Paying for travel will draw more visa overstayers than currently, hence more expenditures for the government.

    If you limit the number of stipend recipients, that will just remove incentives to return home for those who don’t qualify.

    Bad policy.

  6. travis

    i feel like i’m taking crazy pills here. we’re not talking about some academic analysis, but an actual policy in practice.

    the reality of the situation is this: either they go voluntarily or we remove them forcefully. if we have to remove them forcefully, a government agency will do it. we will foot 100% of the aliens’ travel costs, plus the cost of administration, guards, a special plane, handcuffs, etc. and anything the government does is going to be more expensive than the private sector (did you learn that in econ 101?).

    If you pay visa overstayers for their plane ride home, you will induce tourists who plan on returning home anyway to just overstay their visas and get a free ticket. Paying for travel will draw more visa overstayers than currently, hence more expenditures for the government.

    as i said in my comment above:

    they could limit voluntary departure to those here at the time of the passage of the bill.

    there will be a relatively small number of tourists or work visa holders here at the time of the passage of any bill, and most of these would probably not qualify for any low-income stipend.

    and besides, if they break our immigration laws by overstaying a visa after my proposal is passed, they will hurt their chances of obtaining a future visa or of gaining admission to any potential guest-worker program. that’s one carrot that stands opposite the “MORAL HAZARD” you identified.

    like welfare, medicaid, and other socialist programs our country has implimented, this program carries with it a dangerous moral hazard. but i am confident someone could draft the requirements for the benefit so it could not be easily exploited by the immoral tourists.

    If you limit the number of stipend recipients, that will just remove incentives to return home for those who don’t qualify.

    it doesn’t matter because if they can’t afford it, we’ll forcefully deport them anyway.

    Bad policy.

    no, this is good policy because it bridges the gap. it is strict, but compassionate.

  7. N Chung

    If you pay visa overstayers for their plane ride home, you will induce tourists who plan on returning home anyway to just overstay their visas and get a free ticket. Paying for travel will draw more visa overstayers than currently, hence more expenditures for the government.

    as i said in my comment above:

    they could limit voluntary departure to those here at the time of the passage of the bill.

    I was just explaining how the proposal constitutes a moral hazard because you didn’t get it the first time around. Since I commented, you’ve watered everything down.

    Better policy.

  8. travis

    I was just explaining how the proposal constitutes a moral hazard because you didn’t get it the first time around.

    thank you for that. i didn’t take econ 101 and i wasn’t aware of the terminology. i think i reacted a little harshly. my apologies.

    Since I commented, you’ve watered everything down.

    i don’t think so; the same carrot is in paragraph two of my letter:

    promise those who have broken our immigration laws in the past that we will not hold their lawlessness against them and allow them to apply for a future guest-worker program if they promptly (within say six months) leave our country and stay out until the program is established. This scenario makes the prize dependent on their compliance

  9. Jamie

    A simply masterful use of the Shift key, my friend. 🙂

  10. Rich

    I agree with you Travis. Your letter was to the point and well-written.

  11. Mike

    Travis:

    I liked your letter so much that I sent a modified version of it to my senator, the increasingly disturbing Mitch McConnell.

    We’ll see if he cares–I doubt it.

  12. travis

    thanks, mikey. i am shocked at how completely out-to-lunch mitch is on this issue. it looks like he is leading the charge to the bottom along with jorge arbusto, trent lott, and harry reid.

    i actually wrote the letter with mitch in mind, but he doesn’t care about what the majority of his constituents think about immigration. he is in somebody’s pocket on this issue, and i don’t think we can pull him out.

    nevertheless, thanks for trying. i am going to call his office next week, and i urge everyone to do the same.

    mitch’s lexington office: (859) 224-8286
    washington DC office: (202) 224-2541

    he probably has an office in louisville and frankfort, too.

    if you call, i recommend saying this:

    “hi, could you please tell mitch that if he votes for this bill he is a piece of crap and i will do whatever i can to see him lose his seat in 2008? thank you bunches.”