- - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

By and large, liberals favor amnesty for undocumented immigrants, followed by some kind of path, mostly undefined, to citizenship. Conservatives do not believe in rewarding crime — no amnesty, no citizenship — and favor deportation, where possible, or some form of punishment.

The result is standoff as de facto policy.

The price is that illegal immigrants remain in the shadows of society, but burden local services — hospital emergency rooms, schools, police and prisons. These are costs local host communities bear daily. In Los Angeles and Atlanta, for example, large concentrations of undocumented immigrants exact tremendous costs. And when these costs are seen to be an imposition on the host community, as has happened in Phoenix and Prince William County, Va., local resentment builds.

A thoughtful and committed California conservative is proposing a simple solution to the immigration crisis. He believes that there is a “third way,” which will help local host communities and avoid the bitterness that characterizes the debate.

Mark Jason, a retired Internal Revenue Service special agent, wants to issue undocumented immigrants a “special work permit” with a tax provision to help the local host communities. Mr. Jason’s permit would be issued for 10 years, and both the employer and the worker would pay a 5 percent tax on wages.

Using generally accepted estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants in the workforce, he calculates that the tax would amass $176 billion over 10 years. Importantly, this tax windfall would go to the states to provide community facilities, education, health care, policing and prisons.

“With this special work permit, undocumented immigrants could live openly with their families in America, leave and return to the country,” Mr. Jason said in an interview. “Not every undocumented worker wants to stay here forever, but at present they are unable to leave and get back in.”

Mr. Jason said his plan would enhance the country’s security because “we would know who they are and where they live.”

Holding a special permit, illegal immigrants would have dignity and honest work. “Neither they nor their employers would fear a knock on the door,” Mr. Jason said. They would be allowed to get drivers’ licenses in all locations, but not Social Security numbers.

In 2009, Mr. Jason formed the Immigrant Tax Inquiry Group (ITIG) to push for a new approach to the problem that immigrants working illegally in America and the burdens they place on local communities and taxpaying citizens. He has financed the organization with his own resources.

A recent opinion poll conducted for ITIG by Opinion Dynamics, a well-known polling firm, found the public favored Mr. Jason’s third way plan by 70 percent.

Mr. Jason, a widower, lives unobtrusively in the hills of Malibu, Calif. His father, William Jason, was a major movie producer, director and songwriter.

Mr. Jason likes to think of himself as a problem-solver. As a young man living in Mexico, where his father retired to escape the crucible of Hollywood, he taught himself to repair diesel-powered grist mills to help the locals. Later, he worked in the University of California system as an auditor, and then joined the IRS. For a time, he ran a real estate-related publishing firm.

“I like to fix things, and I was attracted to the immigration issue because I could see there was something there that needed fixing,” he said.

Mr. Jason has toured the halls of Congress, looking for support for his third way plan. In June, he will be back in Washington for another round of meetings on Capitol Hill. He hopes to find a member of Congress who will take up his cause for both practical and humanitarian reasons.

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on the Public Broadcasting Service.

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