Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a sane immigration policy

Our nation was built by lawful immigrants. So, why shouldn't stemming the tide of illegal immigration be part of the American Dream? Photo: Associated Press

FLORIDA, February 21, 2012 — For all the talk about illegal immigration in Washington these days, remarkably little is actually said.

The chattering class is engaged in an echo-chamber debate with little regard for the interests of American businesses, workers, or even foreign nationals. Practical solutions to the problems of illegal immigration are in short supply.

In 1883, the early feminist poet Emma Lazarus wrote what would eventually come to be considered as one of the greatest American sonnets of all time: The New Colossus. Its most recited and awe-inspiring line — “Give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore; send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” — beautifully describes the very quintessence of the American spirit. 

This spirit is the unquenchable thirst for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It carries special significance for immigrants fleeing totalitarian or impoverished states.

It is impossible not to feel a deep sense of sympathy for all freedom-loving men and women striving to come to America in order to enjoy the opportunity to realize their full human potential.

However, sympathy only extends so far. Anyone who wants to become an American resident or citizen should do it the right way, in accordance with the law. This means enduring a lengthy process which is designed to assure that all immigrants entering the United States are doing so for positive reasons and that they do not pose any threat to our national security. 

SEE RELATED: Likely voters want immigration laws enforced

Unlike those who respond to Lazarus’s call in a just and decent fashion, illegal aliens completely disregard the very laws of the country which they wish to inhabit and often expect its residents to bend to their cultural norms. Making matters worse is that the illegals are almost always relegated to employment opportunities which require minimal skill and pay paltry salaries. 

During an economic downturn like the one we are experiencing now, this creates an extraordinary problem as millions of Americans are losing their jobs to relatively cheap labor.

Operating within the parameters of an underground economy, illegal aliens are not subject to worker’s rights or minimum wage laws, thus allowing their controllers to ruthlessly exploit them. These employers are gleefully pushing America toward the bottomless pit of third-world nationhood. 

It is they, not the illegals themselves, who are truly to blame for so many of our country’s troubles with chronic unemployment.

In order to realistically solve the lion’s share of our illegal immigration crisis, the incentive for people to enter the United States unlawfully must be thoroughly disestablished. This can be done creatively, in a way which would provide compensation for both the government and the exploited workers. A fine should be imposed on businesses hiring illegals, say, $10,000 per alien arrested. 

Half of this would go to the alien in question, as a means of providing some form of a golden parachute during deportation, and the other to Uncle Sam. Should certain businesses choose to become repeat offenders, then their assets would be seized and eventually auctioned off by the government, though not before they pay a 100 percent increase on the fines originally levied against them. 

Also, persons who knowingly hire illegals after an official warning could face a $250 to $750,000 penalty. Some people favor imprisonment, but the jails are far too overcrowded these days.

Aside from adequately administering justice to both the illegal aliens and their private-sector enablers, this policy would serve as a vessel through which the government could gain revenue while refraining from increasing taxes.

Being reasonably easy to implement on a state or federal level, it would be a win-win for all who follow the law, acknowledge individual rights, and respect true free enterprise. A program like this is undoubtedly closer to obtaining “foolproof” status than any other in recent memory. 

There is no reason why we as a nation cannot make this work, and work fantastically.

Much of this article was first published as Toward the Third World: Illegal Aliens, Their Enablers, and What to Do About America’s Future on

Far-left? Far-right? Get real: Read more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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