Immigration Reform Act: Amnesty And Criminal Fines Should Be Combined

COMMENTARY | Immigration reform has become a hot topic this year. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, President Obama’s State of the Union address contained a speech on immigration reform where he claimed that he’d sign off a bill if it made its way through Congress. But the opposing views fixated on amnesty and enforcing the existing law has caused Congressional gridlock. What if these two opposing viewpoints could be combined into an amicable middle ground solution?

If you look at Mexican law, specifically Mexico’s Ley General de Población (General Law of the Population) you will see the current United States immigration laws are extremely lenient. Illegal immigration in Mexico is a felony. In practice, people caught by the police are beaten, robbed, raped, and sometimes even killed.

Democrats desire that illegal immigrants be given amnesty, with the seeming motivation primarily being to gather a whole new crop of thankful Democratic voters. Many Republicans would rather existing immigration laws be enforced more strictly by Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Their solution is usually just to have illegal immigrants be deported and the borders secured. Under Bush, comprehensive immigration reform was attempted by Republicans but many of their own party shut it down. Nowadays evangelical Christians are among the top supporters for a new immigration reform act.

I personally believe there can be a balanced approach that may appease most Republicans. They believe that the laws should be honored and enforced, which is admirable but inflexible in this difficult scenario. A middle ground that pleases both parties might be one where illegal immigrants, who meet certain criteria, are fast-tracked into citizenship with the caveat that their actions are listed as a criminal offense punishable by a high fine instead of jail time.

By this method the crime is acknowledged and there is no amnesty per se. Yet at the same time families are not broken apart and there is a reasonable method by which citizenship could be reached. Existing laws should still be used to deport illegal immigrants who are also active criminals. This pathway to citizenship should be limited to those who have been living here for years in good standing.

Many illegal immigrants do not pay taxes. In addition to the fine for their act of illegally entering the country, any welfare programs that illegal immigrants have benefited from should be paid back in full based upon the rates that all other Americans have contributed. Both of these fines should be subtracted from their annual Federal tax returns instead of being paid up front so that the poor illegal immigrants are not unduly excluded due to finances. The total sum should also be split up over a 10 to 15 years so that paying back these fines do not become an onerous burden that bankrupts families.

I also believe that in addition to the illegal immigration being listed as a criminal offense, citizenship should be revoked based upon future criminal actions of a certain degree. The act of illegal immigration should be categorized in such a way that the offenders have it listed in their permanent records for life, but are not unduly penalized. For example, this criminal record should not be usable, or applicable, when applying for a job, credit, or a mortgage. But at the same time police will be aware of a person’s status as a former illegal immigrant.

What do you think about this potential middle ground for an immigration reform act?