Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Donald Trump has made the issue of illegal immigration a major theme of the 2016 presidential campaign. Of course, illegal immigration has its problems, but I don’t think it should be a deciding issue in this campaign.
With certain precautions in place, our only concern about immigration (legal or not) is keeping the flow manageable so that our economic culture and institutions — the very reason immigrants want to come here, whether they admit it or not — are not overrun. Recent immigrants need to be given time to responsibly assimilate the culture and qualities they have to offer into the dominate American way of life.
Recognizing that we are all immigrants, including Native Americans — we don’t know how many “natives” the “natives” that the Europeans first encountered wiped out before they became the “natives” — I am tempted to just say, “Let ‘em come! The last ones standing get to be the new ‘natives.’” However, just as the pilgrims would not have survived their first winter in America without the help of “socially responsible” Indians, we have the duty, as the current “natives,” to help immigrants adjust well into the economic environment and opportunities available to them here — hopefully without suffering the same fate as the Indians.
I propose we can do this in three easy steps (and, yes, they really are easy):
Step One: Privatize border security. It costs the taxpayers $4 million a year to secure just one mile of border and quite frankly we’re not getting our money’s worth. Now for a quarter of that, you can lease out each mile of the border to a private security firm or individual. If an illegal immigrant makes it through their mile, they lose their contract. For $1 million a year, I can pretty much guarantee not a fly will get across the line.
Step Two: This must come after the border is secure. Instigate a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy at all immigration offices. Call all immigrants in, legal or not, and administer the following questions:
1. Do you have employment sufficient to support yourself and your dependents without direct financial aid from the government?
2. Do you have a clean criminal record (no felonies) both here and in your home country?
3. Do you wish no harm to United States citizens or property (you are not a terrorist)?
4. If you are under 40 years of age, do you agree to learn functional English?
If the immigrant answers yes to these four questions, we get their contact information, stamp a green card and let them stay as long as they continue to meet these requirements or become a U.S. citizen. As a condition of permanent residency they must agree to be checked up on periodically to ensure they remain qualified. Of course once they become a citizen (if they desire such) they will then be exempt from any further checks.
In this way many already here can become legal residents and we will have a way to track them and ensure they and their children are given every opportunity to be fully integrated into the American community.
Step Three: Once a certain percentage (as close to 100 percent as possible) of current immigrants are registered in this way, or deported if they don’t meet these requirements, we can then reopen the border for more immigrants using the same four requirements.
The biggest hurdle in these cases would be the requirement that they have gainful employment when they don’t yet reside here. This can be solved by having a potential employer sponsor them or by admitting them on a strict temporary and trackable visa giving them a limited time to find proper employment. We would need to limit the number of immigrants to about 100,000 or so a year in order to adequately track them and to keep their numbers low enough to be assimilated into the American culture.
“Assimilation,” though it sounds threatening, is important to ensure against divisive elements being developed within our society when two equally dominant cultures within a given community clash. You can be reassured by the fact that assimilation goes both ways; the American society will be all the more richer (as it always has been) with the continual input of other cultures.
Of course, if immigrants don’t wish to assimilate, they are certainly welcome to return to their home country. Nothing bewilders me more than willing immigrants trying to change their new country into the oppressive or corrupt one from which they just fled.
It’s okay to challenge assumptions and offer new ideas, but just because I’m of British descent that does not mean I should insist on having a king or that we all start driving on the left side of the road. Keep the best of your culture and share it with the rest of us, but take time to accommodate the society that is dominate here — the culture and attitudes that created the economic environment that attracted you here in the first place.
With these three simple steps: secure the border, make residency requirements simple and reasonable, and manage the inflow of new immigrants on the basis of those same reasonable requirements, we can assure a fairly smooth immigration policy and alleviate fears of being overrun with immigrants that may not fully appreciate or share our values. Most Native Americans would probably agree.
Hamilton is a resident of Tooele City and is the creative director for Transcript Bulletin Publishing. His comments are his own and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of management.