The Corner

Confidence-Building Measures in Immigration

The idea of a grand settlement of the immigration issue is a mirage, like a big Middle East peace deal, and for the same reasons — neither side trusts the other. In the case of immigration the sides are not really the Republicans and the Democrats, but rather our pro-amnesty, post-American elites, on the one hand, and the public, on the other. The public doesn’t believe the elites accept Israel’s right to exist America’s right to enforce its sovereignty, and the elites don’t believe the public will abandon the settlements its opposition to amnesty. So a limited deal, that gives each side a little of what they want, is more viable and might then serve as the basis for further action in the future. So here’s an idea for such a confidence-building measure.

Among the holes remaining in immigration enforcement that I mention in my Washington Post op-ed today is E-Verify — it’s still a voluntary program, meaning that legitimate businesses in illegal-alien-heavy industries that are using it to screen their new hires are at a competitive disadvantage. The pro-amnesty side has always held E-Verify hostage to amnesty, the point being that only after all the illegals have been legalized would employers be required to screen for illegal workers. I, of course, would prefer something along the lines of Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act, which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last Congress, which would phase in E-Verify (starting with the largest employers) for all new hires, and after a period of several years require screening of the existing workforce as well.

It’s the screening of the existing workforce that the amnesty folks most object to — without amnesty, it would result in most illegals losing their jobs (most illegals work on the books). So, how about this for a confidence-building, targeted immigration measure: A narrowly drawn DREAM Act (for kids who came before, say, age ten) in exchange for mandatory E-Verify, but without the step of screening the existing workforce. That would get E-Verify to be a standard part of the hiring process (just like filing the paperwork with IRS and Social Security) but wouldn’t boot all the illegals out of their jobs right away (though it would do so incrementally, as audits of employee files by ICE require the dismissal of illegal workers). Likewise, it would amnesty the most sympathetic group of illegal aliens, but not the bulk who grew up abroad.

This would give each side a little of what they want — and arguably, the most important pieces of their respective agendas — without either side giving away everything. That would leave to further discussion other issues, like the Palestinian right of return amnesty for other illegals and acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital local cops’s working with federal immigration authorities.


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