Entering the country without due process of law makes certain people criminals in the eyes of our legal system. Illegal alien, Illegal immigrant, undocumented worker, and some less savory terms are often used. A person’s first illegal entry into the U.S. is considered a misdemeanor, and if repeated after deportation, it becomes a felony.
Our judicial system is based on “common law,” originating in the Middle Ages in England. It provides the structure to determine the right or wrong of actions within our society. In general, most of our laws are agreed upon by the populace, and many judicial decisions are based on a combination of the law and precedents. The seriousness of an offense is determined by the damage to persons, property, or other variables.
Many misdemeanor laws are routinely violated by even regular citizens, including speeding, rolling through a stop, and jaywalking. The most serious crimes are termed “felonies.” Relatively few people violate those, and these crimes are abhorrent to most folks. Some crimes, such as those against children, are so detestable that in prison, offenders are commonly separated from the general population of murderers, thieves, and drug dealers for their own safety. Even the most hardened inmates will not tolerate their existence.
The public’s agreement with the appropriate nature of the law may change over time. Legislators might be pressured over time to alter or repeal a law. Any law that is commonly violated often by a large segment of the population, especially one requiring a punishment thought to be more serious than the actual offense, is usually eventually repealed or modified. Restrictive voting laws and Prohibition were examples, but changing laws can be a slow process at best.
The law denying illegal entry has been violated for many decades without resolution, especially along our southern border. If it’s such a problem now, why has it not been taken to task before? The solution seems to be simple. Am I stupid or naïve? I propose a solution. Tell me if I’m wrong.
I occasionally employ a legal U.S. citizen of Mexican heritage. He also works, at times, as a day laborer for other people. I’ve had more than one friendly conversation with him about the “undocumented” men he works with elsewhere or knows otherwise. He has said they each pay between $1-2,000 dollars to be brought back each time they make return trips from Mexico after seeing their families still living there. Most of them go home one or more times per year.
What if those genuinely wanting to work here were to come across the border legally, fill out an application, apply for a non-refundable background check, and pay $2000.00 for a work permit valid for the first year? People with a felony record or terror organizational ties would be screened out. Each subsequent year, each person could return to renew their permit if they provide proof of previous work in the U.S., income taxes paid in the past, etc. A renewal permit could cost something like $900.00 per year.
If they wished to become U.S. citizens, a path could be provided. Classes to become familiar with our culture, laws, and customs could be paid for incrementally and attended as they work. When completed, the applicant could be given provisional citizenship. After a period of five years, with a clean record and documentation showing fitness for full citizenship, permanent status could be awarded.
Is this nuts? Or is a plan like this completely boneheaded? I would really like feedback on this.