Conspicuously absent from both 2008 presidential campaigns was a fair, honest and decisive proposal to solve the immigration problem in the U.S., especially with respect to our southern border. Instead, we are told, the "solution" is (1) to grant amnesty of one sort or another to all who are already here illegally, (2) to develop and establish "comprehensive immigration reform" and (3) to offer a "guest worker program."
"Comprehensive immigration reform" is merely a sociopolitical euphemism for amnesty, and its principle tenet is the "need for a guest worker program." In point of fact, the U.S. presently offers 10 different guest worker programs. In addition, roughly 8 million Americans remain unemployed, while approximately 7 million illegal workers hold U.S. jobs, primarily because many overstay their guest worker visas after they officially expire.
Each person residing in this country — legal or not — costs the U.S. economy roughly $600 annually in emergency medical care, public education, legal administration and other tax-supported public services, which means that the financial burden placed on the American taxpayer by illegal immigration is roughly $70 billion yearly, as compared to the approximately $7 billion to $8 billion in labor cost savings it contributes to corporate profits. True, some illegal aliens pay taxes, but only a fraction of the total number.
These same conditions also serve to exploit illegal and legal workers alike by depressing wages domestically. If "aliens" became naturalized, corporate America would be legally forced to pay them at least minimum wage, too; thus, actual domestic wages would not decline accordingly. To be sure, why should corporate America hire a minimum-wage laborer when it can hire an illegal worker for much less?
The idea that the U.S. should perhaps ignore existing immigration law in the interest of "moral compassion" is both sanctimonious and disingenuous. The U.S. has some of the most liberal and generous immigration laws of any country in the world. Illegal immigrants to Mexico are summarily fined, imprisoned and deported. Perhaps those who support "comprehensive immigration reform" should follow Mexico's rather keen example.
Finally, how many more criminal elements and tons of illegal narcotics must freely stream across the U.S. southern border before truly authentic government efforts are made to curtail the flow? Fixing the problem doesn't even require new legislation; the federal government need only enforce existing U.S. immigration law and border security. Maintaining and enforcing the E-Verify system that lets employers check work authorization online and gaining at least a modicum of control over the U.S. southern border would both be excellent beginnings.
Re-establish Respect for the Constitutional Separation of Powers
Mickey Edwards, Princeton University: Despite repeated assertions by both Barack Obama and John McCain that their policies would differ significantly from those of the previous administration, virtually no attention was paid during the campaign to the worst feature of the Bush presidency: the determined undermining of America's constitutional framework. Read more
Restore Public Faith in Science
Sunshine Menezes, Ph.D., University of Rhode Island: Before the tumbling economy sucked the air out of other issues in the 2008 presidential campaign, there was laudable effort to bring attention to a largely overlooked but critical policy issue: the decline of American science funding and education. Read more
Eliminate the Electoral College
Len Sellers, CEO, Hammer2Anvil: I was at a business dinner in Asia shortly after the 2000 election. Jokes were being made about still not knowing who will be the next U.S. president: "Isn't it typical of Americans to bring in the lawyers?" And so on. Read more
Close the Turkey Farm
Thomas A. Birkland, Ph.D., North Carolina State University: The president should remove FEMA from Homeland Security. Minimally, he could issue an executive order that indicates that the FEMA director reports directly to the president during disasters. Read more
Grant All Americans Their Day in Court
James L. Gibson, Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis: One issue I believe your administration ought to address is that of access to justice by ordinary citizens. As you are no doubt aware by virtue of your legal training, the American legal system has been radically reshaped during the Republican years under so-called tort reform. Read more
Return Balance to the Federal Judiciary
Cornell W. Clayton, Ph.D., Washington State University: You will have the opportunity to nominate many federal judges and no doubt one or more individuals to the U.S. Supreme Court in the next four years. Please restore balance to our federal judiciary. By balance, I do not refer to partisanship or ideology but to life experience and public stature. Read more
P. People O.
Bill Savage, Ph.D., Northwestern University: Piss people off. Piss off the right-wing Cuban Americans in Florida by normalizing relations with Cuba. (If we can work with the commies in Vietnam or China, then we can work with the Cubans.) Piss off the agribusiness industry by ending subsidies for farms not owned and worked by individual families. Read more
Pay More Attention to Our Own Backyard
Douglas Massey, Ph.D., Princeton University: A clear lesson of the last eight years is that the world is now too large and complex to be dominated by a single power. Nations that try to exercise unilateral economic and military power will only undermine their moral and material position in the world and contribute to their own decline. Read more
Make Real Racial Progress
Phillip Atiba Goff, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles: There are few places where the United States is further away from achieving "post-raciality" than in our prisons and courtrooms. ... It is distressing to think that this election's celebration of moral progress could coincide with the largest incarceration of a people in the history of the world, with recent reports estimating that as many as 1 in 9 black males between the ages of 18 and 34 are held in penitentiaries. Read more
Are you on Facebook? Become our fan.