The worst thing we can do at this point is to accede to their demands. However, this view is not universally held; news sites have been reporting the Senate is evidently considering another attempt at "revamping" our immigration laws (ht: Drudge Report). What is wrong with our leaders... of both parties??!!
This country doesn't need uneducated workers who are a drain on the social welfare system. This type of immigrant only benefits the exploitative employer, while the rest of us subsidize that employer due to higher social services costs. We may save on produce and landscaping, but we pay higher taxes.
What we need are, often times, the very workers who are disadvantaged by our immigration laws and policies. Here's one example: an Indian software engineer with a post-graduate education is severely restricted by our immigration policies. If she obtains a job in America's high-tech industry, she is locked into that one job and, if she wants a green card (permanent resident status) or US citizenship, the waiting period will be reset if her job title changes. That means she cannot switch jobs, and she cannot accept a promotion. She must work at least seven years at the same position, at the same company, before she can apply for a green card. Meanwhile, she must pay thousands of dollars each year in expenses to maintain her H1B visa, in fees to Indian companies to fill out paperwork and file forms, and in lost work time and travel expenses to return to India to visit the US Embassy in order to extend her visa.
Nearly all of the legal immigrants I know, especially the more-educated ones who want to become US citizens and who are following the rules, are incensed at the protesters, and the protests. They wonder why they should follow the law, especially when they think of the possibility of illegals getting a jump on the all-important green card, and they feel like fools. It's not a laughing matter; many of these people who are trying to obtain the American Dream the right way through hard work and education become clinically depressed when they realize that at least a decade of their lives must be spent 'on hold' in a stagnant career position if they wish to follow the path to citizenship.
- Build the damn fence, already!
- (here's the big one) Change the law so that only children born to parents who are legally in the US as permanent residents or US citizens are themselves granted US citizenship.
- Force state and local authorities to enforce existing immigration laws, or lose all federal funds. That means police must ascertain whether people are legal immigrants, must detain those who aren't, and must turn these people over to US Immigration for deportation. That also means that employers must be held civilly and criminally responsible for hiring illegal workers.
- Allow legally-employed H1B visa holders to switch positions or employers without having to restart the waiting period for a permanent visa. This encourages educated, professional immigrants to become stakeholders, and eventually citizens, in the US.
- Restrict permanent visas to those who have held gainful, legal employment for a period of seven consecutive years, and who have made high enough wages to be required to pay income tax, with an exemption for those who have served in the US military. Each day of unemployment adds a day to the waiting period, and unemployment for sixty days, or one hundred twenty days in two years, results in cancellation of your H1B visa and deportation. If you can't find a job, we don't want you.
- Only US citizens can draw Social Security, but all employees must pay Social Security taxes. Legal immigrants' contributions to Social Security are credited to them upon achieving citizenship.
- Once all of this is done, then we need to create a guest worker program so that foreign nationals can come for a limited duration to work in our country and then return to theirs.
We need to remove the incentives for illegal immigration and increase the penalties, and we need to make it harder to get away with.
The only question is, do we as a country have the decisiveness to pull it off? Or, have we lost the national will to insist that foreigners obey our laws, or leave?