Monday, April 17, 2006

The Dream Democratic Platform (2)

In this era of fantasy sports leagues and mock drafts and stuff, I have decided to apply a similar theory to politics. Henceforth, I will begin designing the planks I would be proposing if I were one of the big national players in the Democratic Party. It may not be just like an actual party platform, but y’all will get the point. I’ll try and keep it organized and coherent. Comments and criticisms are, as always, welcome.

Immigration

1. This country was built from immigrants in a very, very messy past.

2. I don’t blame illegals for coming here. It is a better life than they have at home.

3. I don’t blame businesses for hiring illegals, everybody else is doing it, why can’t we?

4. I don’t blame charities and religious organizations for taking care of the needy.

5. I do blame the IRS, Departments of Labor, Departments of Education, and State Governments for NOT enforcing the laws of the land upon the businesses who hire folks illegally and bureaucracies that give drivers licenses to folks who shouldn’t have them. Business is good for America, and affordable goods help us all. But businesses are NOT above the law. I also blame the people that complain about illegals on one hand, and hire them to work on the other.

6. Illegals are protesting in the streets of Los Angeles for the right to be paid slave wages, with no benefits, with no rights for ‘jobs Americans don’t want (to be paid $2 an hour for).’

7. The only people who truly benefit from illegal immigration are bosses who hire folks for slave wages, and who get to undercut US Labor Laws. They get to pay next to nothing for hard work, and the legal taxpayers front most of the cash to send the worker’s kids to school and to the hospital.

8. Billions of dollars in revenue that could offset some of those school and hospital costs are never collected because many businesses do not claim illegals on payroll. Millions of those dollars leave the United States and end up in the coffers of corrupt regimes in Central and South America.

9. Mexico will allow the current system to continue indefinitely, as it props up their corrupt government and supports their autocrats. The money illegals make here almost certainly does not go towards growing the Mexican economy.

10. This situation has been going on for a long, long, long, long time, with no acceptable answers coming out of Washington or the Several States.

11. Most Americans’ concerns about illegal immigration are based on security and economic concerns, not racism or xenophobia.
12. We don’t have the capability to round up 11 million + folks, detain them and give them plane tickets home. The resulting riots and damage would outweigh even the cost of the illegals being here.

This situation is like a junkie needing to kick a bad habit. The United States has benefited (if it can be called that) from the sociological, economic and demographic disaster that is illegal immigration. We have effectively allowed within our borders our generation’s version of indentured servitude or sharecropping. It is a mess of our own making, and like every junkie, we will only get better when we tighten our belts and make the right decisions no matter how hard it is to quit.

We must also recognize the time honored American tradition of ex post facto, meaning that, because we did not enforce things before, we cannot simply fix the thing overnight.

I do think the solution to this problem is relatively simple, and it must start now:

Enforcement:

1. Streamline the immigration paperwork, especially for work visas. Provide forms in English and in Spanish. Fingerprinting must accompany these forms. The most important stuff is who they are, where they live, who they work for and their fingerprints. Get these forms to every agency that may possibly run across an illegal immigrant (based on projected volume: Maine should get less than Texas). Give Kinko’s tax breaks to make these things, if we have to.


2. If you find some folks illegally crossing the border, with that their only crime: they are caught, fingerprinted. Databases are not tough to manage, if you know what you are doing. Check the fingerprints against the big dog databases. Border Patrol is DHS and should have access. State border agencies should be plugged in. Any money they do have on them is ours. Non-criminals sent home, real criminals caught and detained.

3. If we find some folks here illegally, but already working in American businesses, with their kids in American schools and going to American hospitals, we sit them down with the new paperwork, fingerprint them, and make them apply for a work visa right there. If they have families here illegally, all of them too. Every single illegal that is encountered by a government agency must do this, everywhere. Because the agents may not have enforcement capability at their location, these illegals are not detained (but it isn’t amnesty – more on that in a moment).


4. American businesses have ONE YEAR to come clean and declare all the workers who are working for them. They may request as many copies of the streamlined paperwork as necessary. They must all begin paying at least minimum wage, adhering to worker’s comp and US labor laws, deducting payroll, Social Security, and Medicare taxes from what is paid this ‘new worker.’ The business who does this must start doing it as soon as the worker fills out the streamlined paperwork.

5. Illegal workers have ONE YEAR to come clean and declare that they are here illegally and voluntarily give themselves up; filling out the streamlined paperwork for a work visa; working with someone to make sure they are paying their taxes. If they have family, they give them up too.
If someone is here illegally, but pays taxes, owns businesses, homes, etc etc: they fill out the paperwork too.


Implementation:

This is going to be tricky, because 11 million + people is a paperwork end-of-times scenario. Luckily, we have access to this organization called the IRS, who process, for better or for worse, millions upon millions of those claims a year. We also have access to a giant number of political science, law & pre law, criminal justice, social work, Spanish, sociology, public affairs, computer science, education and business students in American colleges. Our nation is also exceptional in the ‘stepping up to the plate’ field, so some experienced hands may just join the team out of retirement. College campuses become our paperwork processing centers for the work visa applications. CJ students process the fingerprints and check the criminal databases for any illicit activity. Spanish students and business students and education students get a Texas, Arizona, California, Florida or Georgia vacation (y’all get the picture) and actually go to the areas where illegals are filling out the paperwork to become legals and filling out their taxes for the first time, and help them do this.

The compensation for these students? Semester hours from ACE towards their chosen major field. A good amount of semester hours. Maybe some room and board and travel, and maybe even a little beer drinkin money. Oh yeah. The compensation for the other volunteers? Gotta kick them some cash too.

Big? Oh yeah. Expensive? Yup. But it is more expensive in the long run to let this problem go on, isn’t it? The cost of comprehensive border security and having folks paying into the schools and hospitals they use instead of lining Vicente Fox’s pockets? Priceless.

But this sounds just like amnesty, doesn’t it? I said I’d address this later, and I think this is the big dog seller:

Retribution:

Every one of the work visas I mentioned above must include, if the immigrant (now legal) so desires, is an eventual path to citizenship. For folks who dot the i’s and cross the t’s from the word get, that’s usually a hectic five to seven year process. For folks who came here illegally (children notwithstanding), that process is now 10 years, minimum and requires 8th grade understanding of English. And every one of those ten years, they will pay more in taxes. Not so much that they can’t get ahead, but a penalty nonetheless – a penalty that does not stop until they become citizens or go home. (Those folks who paid taxes while here illegally would not have to worry about this, but would still have to back that up with records).

Sign the guestbook and pay in. 90% of the problem is solved. Not amnesty, not criminality, a second chance at a cost and a better America morally and economically and demographically. Illegals go from being a threat to having a stake, and stop weighing down the system. Every government agent, every business, every immigrant with illegal family, even charitable organizations now all become part of the same solution: they all become enforcers of the law, and the law is one where the penalties aren’t so severe you’ve got folks who will turn the other way out of moral obligations. Everyone comes on board and gets righteous again.

Then we only have to figure out what to do with businesses and illegals who don’t declare. And we have to deal with Mexico, the France of the west.

(This is also the 300th Post on Hurricane Radio, thanks for reading for this long, y'all)

2 comments:

Dante said...

"Databases are not tough to manage, if you know what you are doing."

Maybe. Maybe not. It really depends on the current size of the database, the projected maximum size of the database, the network layout of those who need to read and write data to the database, and how much manipulation of data you'll need to perform at the database level. This would be a very large database holding fingerprint information (which is relatively large in and of itself) among other things and it would be accessed at a national level, though primarily by those nearest the border.

I'm just pointing this out because I find it curious that you rode the TSA pretty hard in a previous post for not keeping their database up to par and then this database which could protentially be just as complex (probably more) you dismiss as something easy to do. It's not easy. Computerized fingerprint records may have come a long way in recent years but searching with such a system is very hardware-intensive and is still a hit or miss proposition. You may point to crime labs who already do this but they don't do it nearly as often as the border patrol would have to. I'm not saying it can't be done. If there are electronic stock exchanges then there can be an electronic border fingerprint check. I am saying it would probably be much more expensive to build and maintain than our current criminal databases.

Any time you have to perform complex searches or access data from many remote locations, your database complexity shoots way up. This system will have to handle both. The sheer amount of data in the system also affects performance but not nearly as much as most people would believe. When they start getting in the tens of million records, then volume will be an issue.

"like every junkie, we will only get better when we tighten our belts"

If we were trying to help a heroin junkie I would strongly disagree but that's neither here not there.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Well, my complaint against the TSA was that they seemed to have failed to update their database. I think updating a database is part of the 'if you know what you are doing' aspect of data management.

I'm not saying this thing would be easy, but if you get a lot of folks onboard (like the students & volunteers & IRS) all that data entry and management can be processed (without creating a new 'Data Management Department').

Even if it takes the creation of several different databases that are smaller and more manageable, but are linked through one overall operating system.

Some of the FBI and DHS computer gurus in Washington could then start uploading files from these smaller databases into the big dog.

Will there be mistakes? You betcha. But we can work on correcting those as we go. Plus, this is information we need for national security and economic purposes that we are currently not getting. I think this would be the best way to generate that data and assimilate it as efficiently and quickly as possible.