Immigration is an issue that many people try to avoid addressing directly. Oftentimes, people attempt to dance around the issue without really addressing the core issues. For example, some people claim that anyone who wants to take a hard-line stance against illegal immigration lacks compassion for those people from other countries trying to find a better life for their family, while ignoring the dramatic and negative impact of the flood of illegal immigrants on our country. Others claim we need to secure our borders, but at one end of the spectrum they have unrealistic views of how to do so--such as a modern day Great Wall of China between America and Mexico, or at the other end of the spectrum they simply provide lip service for the general idea of securing our borders with no meaningful method to actually do so.
My position on immigration is:
1. Some level of legal immigration should continue, which puts potential immigrants from across the globe on equal footing instead of favoring those in adjacent countries who are willing to illegally cross the border;
2. We need to build an economic wall along our borders by eliminating government assistance for illegal aliens and their families, promptly prosecuting and deporting illegal aliens, and making sure those who cross our borders illegally go to the back of the line with respect to legal immigration;
3. We need to secure all of our borders, not just the line between America and Mexico, as a matter of national security as well as sound economic policy in protecting our nation's economy and workforce; and
4. We need to eliminate the policy of automatically extending citizenship to babies who happen to be born in the United States regardless of the citizenship status of their parents or the circumstances under which these babies were actually born in the United States.
America is the great melting pot in which people from all corners of the world have come and become productive citizens of the United States. The naturalization process is a long process, which requires immigrants to learn about America, and pledge their allegiance to America. Legally naturalized citizens are likely to become productive members of our society. We need to continue some level of legal immigration.
Build an Economic Wall and Provide Disincentives for Illegal Aliens
Our system is currently completely backwards in its approach to immigration--economic incentives abound for illegal aliens and their families, including welfare assistance, free education, free health care, etc. We need to eliminate all economic benefits for illegal aliens and their families, which in a sense will create an economic wall along our borders. Alabama has attempted to take this approach, which actually resulted in illegal aliens voluntarily self-deporting. However, the federal government has improperly intervened and is attempting to block Alabama's efforts.
There should also be a meaningful consequence for illegal border crossings in the context of legal immigration--those who are not willing to play by the rules go to the back of the line for purposes of legal immigration. This will actually create an incentive to pursue legal immigration instead of illegally crossing the border.
Securing Our Borders for Economic Reasons and National Security
Illegal immigration is currently costing America in excess of a $100 billion per year, which is a hefty price tag even during prosperous times, and is unconscionable in light of our current national debt. The following link is an excellent source of information on the costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local levels (the estimated annual cost of illegal immigration to Utah is estimated at $453 million).
However, the need to secure our borders is more than just an economic issue, but is also a matter of natural security. In this day and age of increasing terrorism, America is more and more susceptible to attacks on its home soil. While securing our borders alone will not in and of itself prevent all terrorist attacks within America, we need to do what we can to secure our borders in an effort to minimize as much as possible the threat of terrorist attacks on America soil.
The use of U.S. troops on our borders can be a much more effective means of securing our borders than proposed "walls" and other methods, and would be less costly than our current attempts to prevent illegal immigration and the resulting impacts on our economy from illegal immigration. Such an approach is endorsed by Michael Presnell, Director of the Southwest Border Sheriffs and Border Narcotics in Arizona.
Eliminating Automatic Citizenship for Babies Born in the United States
Citizenship should not be based solely on fortuitous circumstances with respect to the location of a birth. Birthright citizenship means that a child born here automatically becomes a citizen, even if their parents have a political allegiance to a foreign country and have no real allegiance or commitment to the Constitution and American ideals and values, even if that child grows up with a similar allegiance to a foreign country with no meaningful commitment to the United States, and even if the only reason such birth occurred here in the United States was the direct result of illegal activities on the part of the parents in illegally entering our country knowing that by doing so they could secure citizenship for their unborn children. We should not reward illegal immigration with citizenship for children, and we should not favor illegal immigrants who fortuitously live close enough to our border to enter illegally in order to have a child here while millions of potential immigrants all over the world would do the same if they lived in closer proximity to our borders.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution has been misinterpreted for over a century. It does not automatically extend the right to citizenship based simply on birth within the United States, but rather it includes the qualification "all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States." Correctly understood, this means that the children of illegal immigrants, who are not under the jurisdiction of the United States government but are here in America illegally should not be granted automatic citizenship for a baby that is fortuitously born in America.
Allowing birthright citizenship actually encourages illegal immigrants to pour unchecked into our country. Affording children born in the United States with automatic citizenship provides would-be immigrants a strong incentive to illegally cross the border, even if only for short period within which they give birth to a baby. Such an "anchor baby" with United States citizenship can then be exploited to prevent the authorities from deporting the parents, and to gain access to a variety of government benefits and assistance.
Ireland changed its laws after a referendum in 2005 to prevent "birth tourism." As the only European Union country where birthright citizenship was available, Ireland experienced large numbers of pregnant women from all over the world visiting Ireland in order to give birth, simply to ensure that their babies would gain the benefits of EU citizenship.
Subsequent to Ireland's elimination of birthright citizenship, the United States is now unique among developed countries in continuing to offer birthright citizenship. Even Britain, which shares the same common law tradition as the United States, long ago changed its laws to eliminate birthright citizenship and the resulting inevitable abuse arising therefrom. Even though Germany has reformed its "blood citizenship" laws, it still does not give automatic birthright citizenship to any baby born in Germany, but rather it requires that one parent be a legal resident in Germany for at least eight years. This is a model that the United States should emulate.
The abuses of our system arising from automatic birthright citizenship are discussed further in the following articles.