On this blog I rarely put forth my views on immigration policy. I generally use the blog to notify my readers of new developments in immigration reform, laws and policy. I also like to talk about recent immigration cases and approvals.
On the topic of preventing illegal immigration though, I have strong opinions. First, I think stopping, or at least curbing, illegal immigration and unlawful employment is not as difficult as many politicians make it seem. Second, I don’t think the US government is very serious about stopping the problem. Many people talk about increasing enforcement efforts, building bigger walls, militarizing the border, etc. Those same people, from my experience, also want government spending to be reduced.
In the comprehensive immigration reform senate bill that passed (68-32) S. 744, the Corker-Hoeven amendment creates mandatory border security spending of $30 billion; doubles the amount of deployed Customs and Border Patrol agents from 19,200 to 38,400; and increases the mandatory fencing along the southern border. Additionally, the Corker-Hoeven Amendment militarizes the southern border and mandates fixed towers, camera systems, mobile surveillance systems, hand-held devices, ground sensor systems, fiber-optic tank inspection scopes, contraband detectors, mobile targeting systems, unmanned aircraft drones, radar systems, and other technology infrastructure. All of this costs a lot of money.
Wouldn’t it be something if we could stop illegal immigration and unlawful employment without spending so much? If you want to stop illegal immigration and unlawful employment, you need to devise a system whereby American employers do not see a benefit in hiring undocumented aliens. The pull factor must be eliminated. The lure of cheap labor must be outweighed so that the employer sees more potential cost than benefit in hiring undocumented immigrants. Of course, you can increase enforcement spending and hire more ICE investigators to go after employers, but that costs a lot of money and spending will go up.
Why not turn the undocumented employees against their employers? What if an undocumented worker could receive a green card for turning in his/her employer for unlawful employment?
The framework is already established in other areas of US immigration law. The U visa encourages undocumented immigrants to report crimes to the police. If an undocumented immigrant is the victim of certain serious crimes, s/he can report the crime to the police. If the immigrant cooperates with the prosecution and investigation, s/he can receive lawful status in the United States. This proposal has helped to reduce crime in immigrant communities and build a strong bond between law enforcement and law-abiding members of the community who would otherwise be afraid to communicate with police.
In the US effort to stop sex trafficking, they have set up the T visa system. If a victim of sex trafficking reports the crime to the appropriate law enforcement agency and cooperates in investigating and prosecuting the criminals, the victim can receive a T visa which will allow her to stay in the US.
The S visa process is similar. Often referred to as the “Snitch” visa, the S visa is reserved for those that cooperate with law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting criminals.
In the unlawful employment scenario, the US could pass a law saying that any undocumented alien who reports his/her employer to the appropriate federal agency (likely ICE) is eligible to receive an immigrant visa that will allow the individual to work and live in the United States. If I am living in the United States illegally and working at a minimum wage job, I would have no problem reporting my employer if I saw a benefit. Once reported, ICE can investigate the employer and fine it for the violation (say $20,000). An employer that is hit with a $20,000 fine will quickly decide that it is too risky to hire undocumented workers. This approach cuts down on enforcement spending as well. ICE need not hire investigators to go out exploring for violations. ICE can sit back and wait for the reports to come to them. Employers will stop looking for undocumented workers, and the pull factor on illegal immigration will cease over time. If undocumented immigrants cannot find work in the United States, they won’t see the benefit in coming to the United States.
If the US implemented this system, there would likely be a major push at the beginning. The US would give out many immigrant visas to undocumented workers, and fines to employers would abound. After that, employers would not hire undocumented workers because of the risk of fines. Undocumented immigrants would stop entering the country because they no longer would view it as a place to find jobs.
My opinion is that the US government is not serious about stopping illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is a huge industry. Private detention centers make billions housing undocumented aliens while they await deportation in immigration court. Their lobbyists wrote the Arizona law SB1070 that was struck down by the US Supreme Court. Additionally, undocumented workers drive the economy and keep the cost of many products down. Militarizing the southern border creates billions in defense spending.
To those of you that want to stop illegal immigration, what are your thoughts . . .