- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2008


Remember your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breath free… .

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed …

Back home.

At least one presidential contender wanted to round up all illegal immigrants and send them home, apparently at their own expense.

Presumably, he never heard of Emma Lazarus and her famous poem, recast above, and never beheld the majesty of the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps, too, he never had family fleeing persecution, banging at our doors and having them shut in their faces only to perish on their home turf. In his defense, he follows in the footsteps of some of our greatest leaders, Franklin Roosevelt for one. Xenophobia lives.

The debate over illegal immigration has fluctuated between those who wish to adopt the most draconian measures to stop — or even reverse — the flow (often led by politicians with Italian, Irish or German names) and those who want to legalize most if not all illegals in the United States outright, in a form of amnesty.

The reasons of the latter group are easy to comprehend: We are all (with the exception of the native Americans) descendent of immigrants; we are compassionate people, and/or frankly because we need them in the labor force. The reasons of the first group are less laudatory. The fear of terrorist infiltration deserves special mention: To the extent we change or fashion policy based on fear of outsiders, the terrorists have won.

Yet no solution appears in sight, and stalemate or paralysis is another win for the terrorists. The administration managed to forge a fairly reasonable compromise bill that proceeded to go nowhere in Congress. Both parties flail around the issue and there is no consensus of any kind within the public at large.

Nevertheless, we must recognize how the large population of “illegals” came to be in the first place and understand our own responsibility before fashioning measures to prevent this from recurring or deciding whether they be allowed to stay. In that vein, we need to acknowledge the insufficiency of our border patrol units, the reckless policy that diverted funds from the border patrol into boondoggles; and the laissez faire of local governments who turn a blind eye to the problem. And yes, the security risk of illegal immigrants must be recognized and dealt with.

While the great majority of illegal immigrants are family-oriented and hard-working, a country that cannot control its borders or enforce its laws is a country in serious trouble. How is that circle going to be squared?

Well, here is one idea:

(1) All illegal aliens now in the U.S. will be allowed to stay on a provisional basis for three years and will be issued a “lime card,” provided that:

(A) They register within 60 days and receive their card. Any who do not do so will be immediately deported on detection.

(B) They state under oath that within the three years they intend to fulfill the following conditions:

(a) They will have a high school diploma or are registered in high school and in good standing.

(b) They will pass an English-language exam.

(2) At this point, they will receive a “sage card,” entitling them to provisional citizenship, provided they:

(A) Are attending college or junior college.

(B) Have completed or are pursuing a “trade certificate” in programs such as practical nursing, hairdressing, carpentry, paramedic, etc.

(3) Upon completing two years of college or satisfactory completion of a trade program plus two years of internship, they are eligible for citizenship.

Any illegal immigrant of high school age at the time the program is initiated must demonstrate attendance in and anticipated completion of such programs. Any illegal immigrants not complying with the above program will be deported.

Some such program would provide a path to citizenship for those who follow the laws and regulations of this country while proclaiming our intention to control our borders and enforce its immigration laws in the future. The world would be on notice.

In the meantime, new programs would be established in such areas as basic child care including rudimentary disease control; food preparation courses including basic knowledge of food-borne diseases and prevention; neighborhood health coaches who will be taught basic nutrition. These programs should enable our new cadre of citizens to have needed and useful skills that would be an enhancement to this country. Border control would be strengthened; agreements would be reached with neighboring countries (including Caribbean and Central American countries) to improve their border security.

Some number of hours of mandatory community service should also be imposed on the citizen-candidates in lieu of fines or other punishment. This would address the criminal actions incident to their being here in the first place, and avoid allegations that the plan provides amnesty. But a commensurate reduction would be in order — they couldn’t have got in if our people and politicians were doing their jobs.

Barbara P. Billauer is president of the Foundation for Law and Science Centers Inc. and adjunct professor of scientific evidence at the University of Maryland Law School. Norman A. Bailey is president of the Institute for Global Economic Growth and adjunct professor of economic statecraft, The Institute of World Politics.

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