For too many years the problem of illegal immigrants, mostly crossing our southern border, has plagued this country.
It is generally accepted that the number now well exceeds 10 million undocumented people. Much has been said and much has been written, but little has been accomplished in appreciably stemming the tide.
Politically speaking the subject appears to be at an impasse. No clear workable solution has surfaced much beyond the piecemeal building of walls and fences; woefully understaffed border patrols; and acrimonious exchanges between the two affected presidents.
The answer is not in attempting to deport 10 million people. It simply is not feasible to humanely deport and relocate 10 million human beings. And America is not an inhumane country.
A workable answer could be considered in the issuance of a special 10-year visa to all undocumented people with no outstanding criminal charges. The visa would carry their fingerprints and photo, and would have to be presented when requested by authorities, It would carry many of the benefits of citizenship such as obtaining a driver’s license; enrollment in the Social Security program; and access to schools and health care. With this card they would have most, if not all, the basic privileges of U.S. citizens except voting rights and holding public office or law enforcement positions.
At the end of the 10-year period, and with passing the requirements and tests that all immigrants have passed over the years, they would be presented full citizenship.
Upon announcing this program, a six-month period of registration could be imposed immediately for all undocumented immigrants to present themselves and register.
So-called sanctuary cities should have no grounds to object to a program that presents a pathway to lawful citizenship along with the immediate implementation of many of the privileges of citizens. Following the registration period, they could not logically object to the arrest and deportation of wanted lawbreakers or the few who failed, for whatever reason, to register.
With the announcement of the six-month registration window, the southern border would have to be greatly enforced, well above its present condition, for the announcement would greatly presage a dramatic influx of waders of the Rio Grande.
Though this plan could bring together some bipartisan support, these 10-million-plus new citizens and their progeny could well embrace their benefactors, chiefly a Republican administration and Congress, and become a rare minority group to favor the majority of their vote to the GOP in the future.
This proposal also would bring out the big guns of bipartisan objectors. The right would object and insist the immigrants all be returned whence they came. That’s not going to happen. The left would say, “Let ’em all stay (and most probably become good Democrats).” That’s against our laws and should not happen.
There is no other reasonable solution.
(The writer was The Augusta Chronicle’s editorial cartoonist from 1971 to 1998. He lives in Martinez.)