Liberals, conservatives and the "Gang of Eight" all appear to believe in the following three immigration myths (1) that border security requires the construction of a wall along our southern border (2) that enforcement means deporting illegal migrant workers and punishing those Americans who assist them, and (3) that most migrant workers would prefer living in the USA to living in their native countries.
Neither logic nor factual evidence supports these myths. In the unlikely event that Congress should actually pass a "reform" statute based on them, it would fall far short of the mark. The major virtue of the Senate Bill (as it is now written) is its legalization of our 11.5 million illegal migrant workers. This, of course, is no small feat. However, a genuine reform statute should disregard the three myths and:
1' Stop construction of the Wall
The Wall benefits only corporations. It benefits them by providing them with an adequate supply of illegal workers. This is important to them because legal workers would demand higher wages and better conditions. This would interfere with corporate profits. When millions of workers are involved, a small difference in wages makes a large difference in profits.
The Wall is unnecessary. We could secure our borders from being crossed by migrant workers simply by enforcing the hiring provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA).
2. Enforce the (INA) hiring provisions
After living in a working-class barrio in Central America , I am convinced that most illegal migrants would prefer to remain at home. They risk their lives by employing "coyotes" to get them across the US border. They do this for one reason -- JOBS. A recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey shows that the percentage of people who are satisfied with their lives is the same in Mexico as in Germany (66%) and is only 4 percentage points lower than in the US . These figures suggest that, if we had a well-run (E-Verify based) guest worker program, most guest workers would prefer to return to their native countries when not employed in the US .
3. Encourage assimilation
Whether guest workers become US citizens or return to their native countries, the more they learn about the US the better. Our immigration policy should include an education component that would help give its guest worker program a positive "people-to-people" effect. If guest workerswere to be treated as valued guests and given the opportunity to learn more about our country, those who returned to live in their native countries would serve us as ambassadors of good will. Those who became US citizens would become better US citizens.
This educational component should include English as a Second Language (ESL), US History, US Government, the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers. While all guest workers could participate, it would be especially relevant to those guest workers who wish to become US citizens. This educational program should have at least one site in every US County. These sitescould be integrated with existing training and educational centers. Our reform law could create a fast-path to citizenship contingent on passing the TOFEL (an English language test) and written examinations in US History, USGovernment, our Constitution and the Federalist Papers.
Unfortunately, our present policy includes the funding of an extremely effective anti-assimilation program. I have immigrant friends that have been living in the US for 12 years and cannot speak any English. Why should they? They have only to press a button on their telephones to conduct their business with state and federal agencies in Spanish. They even take their drivers' tests in Spanish. They live in a Latino enclave and socialize only with other Latinos. We Americans are shooting ourselves in our collective feet by spending millions of dollars of tax money on a bi-lingual program that is directly opposed to our national interest. We wrest defeat from the jaws of victory by making it convenient for immigrants (legal and illegal) to live in our country without learning our language, our customs, our culture, our history or our governmental system. In the name of diversity, weare becoming a Balkanized "anti-melting pot."
It is unrealistic to suppose that our present unresponsive government wouldcreate and carry out a law including the three "virtues" discussed above. These "virtues" would favor ordinary Americans and create short-term problems for corporations. Therefore, the successful reform of our federal government is a prerequisite to genuine immigration reform.