op-ed

This Is How Congress Should Craft Its Immigration Legislation

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in the process of creating an immigration bill that only Congress can has the power to begin.

Immigration is the exclusive responsibility of the Congress, as per Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution; Congress is mandated “to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization,” also known as immigration.

Here, the battle begins. Leader McConnell has promised an open process — the process starts with a “blank page.”

Most Congressmen have no clue about what to do with immigration. Shall they fortify the southern border? Shall they “hire” more agents to enlarge the 20,000 agent Border Patrol? Shall they shoot illegal border crossing people on sight like some border “patriots” want?

The immediate problem that needs solving is what to do about the “kids,” the “Dreamers,” those who are subject to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). To that, the President wants more border security in the form of his “beautiful wall;” jettisoning “chain migration” and ending the visa lottery.

First, “chain migration” is not what the President says it is. His proposal would have prevented his own mother from immigrating to the U.S.

Second, the visa lottery is easily disposable. Canceling it will limit immigrants from San Marino, Central Asia or Zimbabwe

“Border Security” means many things, including President Trump’s Wall from “sea to shining sea” – which is impossible to build, as Chief of Staff John Kelly says. Moreover, as this piece is being written, United States Federal District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the San Diego Federal Court is hearing court orders that could prohibit the President from waiving dozens of federal laws and rules which protect border lands from being disturbed by construction for environmental reasons. Judge Curiel could stop border construction – something on which the President insists.

In San Diego, for example, already-instated double fencing that cost millions to build has effectively shut down mass illegal border crossings. As many as a thousand people a night used to wade across the Tijuana River or walk through the surf of the Pacific Ocean to enter the U.S. illegally. The fence was built out into deep water and strong surf. It’s still there.

There are parts of the border that can be fenced, which would cut down illegal border crossings. However, the rugged mountains in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas Big Bend area make it hard to build on. In the Rio Grande Valley, border construction needs to be well inside the United States and on private property.

Then there is what to do with the “kids.” The “kids” are people brought into the United States when they were minors on a legal visa that expired or that were smuggled through the border illegally. About 700,000 of these people were granted protected status, and many had been renewed for the Obama Executive Order two-year-at-a-time protection from deportation. Though the federal courts have set aside the March 5th deadline, President Trump announced at the end of the Obama-DACA program that it is possible the program can go away before Congress fixes it.

Here, then, are five measures Congress can, maybe even must, take:

  1. Accept President Trump’s proposal to legalize 1.8 million “kids” that qualify for the program with citizenship.
  2. End the visa lottery.
  3. Limit “chain migration” to only minor children and spouses, and possibly parents if they are young enough to work or invest in business.
  4. Vote for money to repair existing fencing and barriers and study the border for future fencing or barriers.
  5. Enlarging the existing E-VERIFY job application system and requiring it of every job applicant in the U.S. This would need private credit card companies that handle millions of transactions a day to handle the system; the system would have an automatic priority appeal built in to protect the job applicants from mistakes.

Lastly, and more important in solving illegal entry and visa overstays, is filling demand in certain occupations for workers to do work for which there are not enough Americans to do. It has nothing to do with pay; it has to do with not enough people being in the right place at the right time.

Crops are rotting in the fields of California because there aren’t enough people to work them. Ski resorts can’t find enough people to work in the winter season. Arizona, Las Vegas, and California contractors building houses in the summer can’t find enough workers to work in daily 100 degree temperatures. President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Florida resort must bring in workers from Romania to take care of visitors.

A simple work permit will legalize hundreds of thousands of current illegal farm workers and allow farmers (ski resorts, contractors, etc.) to bring in workers as needed. The employer would pay the fees, clear the workers through E-Verify, and make payroll reports every payday from their lap tops.

Voila! Hallelujah! The illegal alien disappears. Congress can do this, now!

Raoul Lowery Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War And A Trillion Dollars In Trade”; he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.