first, here's the arizona law: arizona senate bill 1070, as ammended by house bill 2162. (at the time of this writing, the law has not yet gone into effect, so the link provides a pdf labeled "unofficial.") i read the text of the bill/law. it's very short, as bills/laws go, and quite easy to understand.
i think i've seen hundreds of reports by the news media (and interviews with obama administration officials and others) that portray the law as racially biased or even as hateful.
i have also seen clips of president obama's speech in iowa, where he gave an example of what the arizona law could lead to - if you're a hispanic person in arizona, taking your children to an icecream parlor, the police might harass you.
but i don't like to believe what i see or hear or read in the media. and i don't like to make a judgment based on one little soundbite. so, i went to the source (the white house posted the entire speech here) to listen to what came before and after the icecream comment so i could gain some context.
the icecream story begins approximately 48:50 minutes into president obama's speech. he says, "you know, you can try to make it really tough on people who look like they, quote, might be illegal immigrants. one of the things that the law says is local officials are allowed to ask somebody who they have a suspicion might be an illegal immigrant for their papers. you can imagine if you are a hispanic american in arizona, your great-grandparents may have been there since before arizona was even a state. but now, suddenly, if you don't have your papers and you took your kid out to get icecream, you're going to be harassed. that's something that could potentially happen."
wow. i have two main objections to mr. obama's example. first, the law (read it; link above) clearly states - in several places - law enforcement officials "may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements" of the law. also clearly stated is that a person must have already been stopped, detained or arrested for another matter before being asked to verify identity/legal status. (and guess what? a driver's license will do it! sheesh.)
my second objection is the president's and others' notion that police officers will of course "act stupidly." as the wife of a cop . . . this jumped right out at me from the first time i heard an objection to the law -and i was shocked how long it went on without anyone coming to cops' defense! none of the cops i know is a racist, but maybe the best thing i could say about cops in general is that it does not matter what their private opinions may be - they don't bring them to the job. they enforce laws. they help people. they take a lot of . . . crap . . . the rest of us are not required to suffer, yet they continue to treat every person with respect. but are we supposed to believe this would all change instantly when the arizona law goes into effect? not a chance. cops are owed a huge apology from this administration, if you ask me.
aaanyway . . . my plan, in a nutshell:
- no more anchor baby status
- secure the borders
- develop guest worker program
- develop transition alien program
- deport all criminal aliens
- speed up lawful immigration process
- never put our country through this again!
immediately do away with "anchor babies." not the actual babies. :) just let's recognize this amendment was created to allow former slaves to be citizens. it is no longer relevant. abolish the anchor baby status. then, continue the rest of the plan:
first, secure the borders. physically. build a fence. electrify it. add more border patrol guards. dogs, even. add electronic surveillance. do whatever it takes to physically secure the borders. make it a crime (not a "civil crime") to enter the u.s. illegally. maybe a misdemeanor the first time and a felony the second? deport them all, but mostly, prevent the entrance.
secondly, establish a guest worker program for people who are NOT currently here illegally. we had one in the past; it worked. if it needs to be "tweaked," fine.
thirdly, deal with the illegal immigrants already here. establish a 6-month registration period. call those who register "transition aliens," maybe. (those illegal immigrants who don't register within the established time frame? deport them. however we come to know about them - gather them up and deport them immediately. illegal alien felons? deport them immediately; no opportunity to register for transition alien program.) issue transition alien numbers to those who register within the time frame and allow the transition aliens to work in the private sector (no government jobs). pay them no less than minimum wages, and no less than the prevailing wages earned (in whatever position they work) by citizens. no pay discrimination!
create a separate income tax rate for transition aliens (but not for the companies who hire them lawfully). they should pay higher taxes as a penalty for breaking our laws and coming here illegally. not a one-time penalty, but a higher income tax rate, plus a yearly tax per person for whatever amount. for example, a family of two parents (only one who is working) immigrated illegally, then had three children and one grandparent then came to live with them: the working parent's transition alien income tax would be deducted from his/her paycheck just like other income taxes are withheld from lawful resident's paychecks. the yearly tax for the other parent, the children (whether citizens under the former anchor baby statutes or not) and the grandparent could also be deducted from the paycheck, or paid at the time of filing. these yearly taxes would help defray the cost of education for transition alien children.
prohibit transition aliens from participating in any government entitlements: no medicare, no welfare, no medicaid, etc. this sounds harsh, i know, but i think it must be this way. churches and other charities will take care of the needy, as it should be. eligibility should begin when citizenship is earned. transition aliens should be allowed to purchase health insurance in the private sector, of course.
require the transition alien to learn english within a reasonable time frame (one year? two years?). require the transition alien to learn american history, civics, etc. testing is a must. if possible, allow these classes to be sponsored and taught by volunteers.
if a transition alien commits a felony (or multiple misdemeanors), deport him/her. prohibit him/her from applying for re-entry for a reasonable period (say, 10 years) for less-serious offenses or forever for felonies and more serious misdemeanors. his/her family may choose to stay or go.
finally, allow transition aliens to become resident aliens, or even citizens, after a significant period of time following all the rules as transition aliens. the transition alien program must end within a specified amount of time. (there will be no more illegal immigrants eligible to become transition aliens after the 6-month registration period - people entering unlawfully once the border is secured will be immediately deported, but i hope prevented from entering in the first place!)
certainly, we can debate how long it should take someone to work through the transition alien status, but we must first speed up the lawful immigration process. the dramatic reduction in illegal immigration caused by securing our borders should (must!) allow lawful immigration applications to be processed much more quickly. no more 120 year wait lists!
then we can decide the lifespan of the transition alien program. but it is of utmost importance that working through the transition alien status to become a resident alien or citizen take longer than it takes a person to immigrate lawfully. in other words - illegal immigrants (who become transition aliens) "go to the back of the line."
lawful immigrants are vital to our nation's success, so let's get this thing worked out, already!