The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a conservative advocacy group that favors tighter immigration laws, reported that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers more than $100 billion each year. Policy makers and experts stress these are only rough estimates since it’s nearly impossible to gather accurate data about illegal residents, but they see these costs continuing to climb and want tougher policies against illegal immigrants.
Those on the other side of the debate counter that illegal immigrants create demand and jobs that promote economic growth. They disagree with the purely fiscal approach and argue that simply weighing tax receipts against public spending doesn’t show the whole picture.
So after weighing the financial pros against the cons, which is it? Perhaps we need another perspective. What if we could legalize all immigration in the U.S. and still reduce the burden on taxpayers? I believe that we need to reform the U.S. immigration system to accomplish three broad goals:
- Create a legal channel for future workers to enter the U.S.
- Grant legal status for workers already here.
- Sharply reduce illegal immigration.
I propose that we revise the current U.S. Immigration Policy to implement a 5-Year Renewable Green Card System. Under this system, all immigrants will be issued a U.S.-approved 5-Year Renewable Green Cardin order to legally enter the United States. All immigrants (legal or illegal) who are already in the U.S. will be given 60 days from the date of the new policy to purchase a Green Card.
- The Green Card will expire every 5 years, but may be renewed as needed.
- Money generated from the Green Card will cover the manpower needed to process the immigrants (e.g. background checks, management services, policing, etc).
- There will be no limitation on the number of times an immigrant can leave or re-enter the U.S. while their Green Card is active.
- Possession of an active Green Card allows the immigrants complete mobility between employers and sectors of the U.S. economy.
- Any felon convicted in his/her own country cannot be issued a Green Card by the US. A felon convicted in the U.S. will have his/her Green Card revoked and can never receive another one.
- Money generated from this tax will be used to pay the increased costs of additional social needs of the immigrants placed on the U.S. taxpayer.
- All immigrant workers must file annual U.S. income taxes to keep their Green Card active. Failure to file an income tax will result in revocation of the Green Card and deportation.
And finally, let’s get serious about penalizing those businesses in the U.S. who strive to increase profits by employing illegal workers. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provides for sanctions against businesses that hire undocumented workers. Yet, U.S. employers routinely hire illegal workers with little penalty. Rather than vilify immigrants for being here, we need to prosecute the business owners who hire and exploit them.