The path ahead on immigration

Throwing one’s hands up and doing nothing won’t work

My great grandparents on my mother’s side came to America from Italy and Ireland.

My husband’s great grandparents came from Denmark and Germany.

My father’s family came over in the 1600s from England on the Fortune and are thought to be one of the founding families of New Hampshire.

I admit to an immigrant background. As a matter of fact, unless one has Native American roots, we are all descended from immigrants or are immigrants.

Immigration issues are not new. Americans concerned about immigration in 2015 are no different than those Americans who had immigration concerns back in the 17th century, when laws were passed to keep England from dumping its convicts in America.

In fact, Mexicans are not the only ethnic group to trigger great angst among Americans. Europeans and the Chinese were strongly controlled at various points, usually during tough economic times. When times were good, and cheap labor was needed, laws were relaxed.

There is a long list of immigration acts – 24 of them – starting in 1790 through the Real ID act of 2005. Those laws mainly dealt with parameters of legal immigration. The situation that now exists is mostly about illegal immigration. I believe many Americans would not have a problem with reform and some increases to the number of legal immigrants. We embrace those who do it the right way.

So as Univision’s Jorge Ramos asked – well, actually, rudely interrupted and demanded – of Donald Trump: “How do you just deport 11 million people?”

For starters, enforce the laws we already have, untie the hands of border patrol and local police, and stop the bleeding-heart liberal judges. Then build the damn wall. If anything, it will provide employment. Use existing jobs programs dollars for the wall instead of other make-work projects.

Then put into place strict enforcement of housing laws so several families cannot live in housing that is only legal for one family. Throw the book at employers – both business and individual – caught knowingly hiring an illegal. Have some flexibility for an employer amnesty program if employers turn themselves in. But once the short amnesty turn-in time is over, send employers to jail.

To help with immigration reform costs, add a travel tax to anyone going to Mexico. If Mexican leaders balk at taking their people back, suspend vacation travel of Americans to Mexico. Get tough.

Immediately re-deport anyone who returns to America after being deported and make sure they never appear on a legal immigration list.

When illegals are identified, give a specific time for deportation based on their behavior while here, such as several years for illegals who work, are not on welfare and have committed no crimes. Focus on initial deportation of criminals, the unemployed, those on welfare and those who have returned after being deported, and work backward from there.

Stop anchor baby citizenship. Don’t read into the Constitution that which is not expressly stated.

Aid to Mexico should be tied to jobs programs for returning illegals. We should consider a modest stipend from America to those who self-deport to help with their re-establishment in Mexico – especially families with children.

We should consider supporting the concept of American companies building plants in Mexico for products that would be used in Mexico. Companies are international, and some products make more sense being manufactured in the country where they are produced. American companies profit and will pay U.S. taxes on their earnings in Mexico.

We must also recognize the significant importance of Mexican oil exports to America and the need for trade balance.

The problem didn’t occur overnight and won’t go away overnight. But throwing one’s hands up and doing nothing only creates more costs, anger and vulnerability for American citizens. 

Fran Wendelboe of New Hampton is a former seven-term Republican legislator.

Categories: Opinion