Another free-market solution to immigration

We are used to corporations complaining about restrictions on the movement of capital. “We can’t enact a minimum wage because that would skew the market.” “We can’t force corporations to keep the manufacturing in the US because the market will be flooded with cheap imports anyway.”

Immigrants are capital moving on its own initiative. That form of capital needs to move as freely as any other. If American jobs are taken, well, call Customer Service and complain to whoever in the Third World answers the phone.

Pat Buchanan is right in one respect — every nation, including the US, needs to be able to protect its borders against unrestricted entry. But someday it will dawn on the politicians that you can keep a thousand people out, but not a million. The question is, how to handle those million people in a way that maintains border security?

We have made a big mistake in entrusting border control and naturalization to the same agency. They are entirely different functions. Immigration is the process of evaluating people who are already here, most of whom are good, honest people, to decide upon what conditions they may remain here or become citizens.

Here’s the simple plan: Anyone who wants to enter the US and is not on a terrorist watch list may enter the US if they follow the rules. The rules: Present yourself at a consulate or a border entry station, show the identity papers you have from your home country to prove who you are, and consent to have your photograph taken and submit a DNA sample, fingerprints and a retinal scan. Then prove you have a few thousand bucks to support yourself for the next few months — the same money you would have given to the “mules” to get you over the Rio Grande. If you do that, you get a Social Security number and a six-month visa entitling you to work. The employer must notify Immigration Control when you are hired and when you leave employment.

After six months, you must report back. If you have not gotten in trouble and have worked for at least half of that time, you get a five-year visa on the same terms. If you fail to report, or if you don’t meet the test, you go back across the border and can’t come back. If you get through the five-year visa successfully, you get a Green Card. Period.

Most of the people who try to get across the border want only one thing: to work and to be good, honest, productive members of society. They will jump at the chance to live here without fear and to work “on the books.” Those who don’t will be traceable and can be deported. The number who sneak across the border illegally will decline to a trickle. Problem solved.

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