Thank you for stopping by. This is a continuation of Part 1 (available here: http://wp.me/p8fzBg-d).
The following are further suggestions for the improvement of U.S. immigration security, generally with a view towards keeping the worst individuals out or reducing the illegal population generally.
6. Amend and enforce U.S. Code provisions controlling criminal penalties for illegal entry
Surprisingly for a country that is such a target for illegal immigration, the U.S. does not usually charge aliens criminally for the mere act of illegally crossing or attempting to cross the border. This means there is little disincentive for those considering such a crossing, nor any to prevent those who have previously been caught from trying again.
Federal law currently does have relevant provisions (1), but they are so often unenforced that many foreigners actually believe illegal entry is not a crime (2). The point is often raised that we could not house all the prisoners we would have to accommodate if the laws were consistently applied.
I suggest that instead we think of the deterrent effect that would be generated if we began to apply the law effectively, or especially if the first offense were raised to the level of a felony. If Congress amended Section 1325 to make the first attempt at illegal entry a felony with a sentence of one year, and made a corresponding change to the Immigration and Naturalization Act to make any 1325 conviction a permanent ineligibility for immigration purposes, the deterrent effect would be considerable. The amended INA would specify that any 1325 conviction–regardless of the penalty ultimately imposed–would be a bar to any future immigration benefit.
With just these two changes, the potential illegal immigrant’s incentive picture would be drastically changed. When contemplating an illegal crossing, they would face the prospect of apprehension and a 1325 conviction that would permanently exclude them from the United States. Those who do get apprehended would generally not actually have to be quartered at public expense for long. As with the current system, they could be returned to their country origin. But they would only be released after resolution of their criminal charge under Section 1325, with the concerned U.S. Attorneys being instructed not to pursue prison sentences for first-time offenders who plead guilty. Thus, as a practical matter the illegal alien could choose between a lengthy detention followed by a trial, imprisonment and deportation, or simply enter a guilty plea at their first opportunity and be returned home, albeit with the caveat that he could never return without facing a greater penalty. Nearly all would likely plead guilty given these options, which would minimize the number we would have to keep in pretrial detention (or eventual imprisonment).
7. Amend U.S. Code to establish criminal penalties for visa overstays
Next, I would suggest that Congress enact a statutory provision criminalizing the act of overstaying one’s authorized period of presence in the United States. Given that a large portion of the present illegal alien population is made up of people who entered with tourist or student visas but stayed beyond the time authorized by DHS, our laws clearly need to be more stringent in addressing this group of aliens.
To avoid draconian effects for innocent overstays of a few days, I would suggest that the criminal period of illegal presence begin at some reasonable point, for example 30 days after the original end date of the authorized stay. This would make allowance for those who had honest reasons for overstaying, such as a cancelled flight or brief illness.
8. Use entry records to create a realtime national database of current known deportable population
Once biometric exit tracking is implemented as recommended in Part 1 of this posting, the backend data could be used the maintain a constantly updated list of all known aliens illegally present (being all those whose latest authorized departure date has passed and for whom there is no biometric exit record).
This would provide federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with a comprehensive platform to plan operations to reduce the illegal alien presence in the United States. To make effective use of it would require more law enforcement man hours than would be possible at present, leading to my next point.
9. Establish reimbursement arrangements to employ state and local law enforcement agencies in the apprehension of illegal aliens
The federal government does not have enough uniformed personnel to properly police the borders, let alone thoroughly cover the entire country. However, this could be overcome by paying state and local law enforcement agencies’ applicable overtime rates for operations resulting in the apprehension of any illegal alien, whether the operation is launched strictly due to illegal presence or due to the commission of additional crimes.
This would leverage the knowledge of local uniformed officers who best know where groups of illegal aliens commonly live and work, and would save the federal government the training and personnel costs that would accrue from the creation of additional federal officer positions.
10. Eliminate employment-based visas for unskilled workers
It may surprise those readers not familiar with immigration law that we have an entire category of employment-based visas for unskilled workers (3).
Even without examining the minute details, in a country with substantial unemployment and urban blight it is obviously questionable whether we have any need to import people classified as unskilled. Fundamentally, every physically healthy human being is qualified to conduct unskilled labor.
Beyond the economics, the fact that our system allows for a backlog in this category creates serious questions about whether any of these jobs really exists. Once the annual numerical limit of such immigration petitions is reached, the subsequent applicants go into a backlog that can reach many years in duration. As a result, some applicants will wait years for a job as a butcher or janitor, often at a business owned by a friend or family member.
Currently, nothing in federal law requires the relevant agencies to verify that the purported vacancy truly exists when the alien’s petition finally matures. Nobody is required to ask, for example, who has been carving those carcasses or cleaning those toilets in the seven years since the petition was filed. Similarly, as the green cards granted in such cases are not conditional (that is to say there is no requirement that the alien maintain the specified employment in order to keep his status) there are many cases known to federal officers in which the aliens never actually report to the employer who petitioned for them.
As they are easily exploited and serve no compelling need of the business community, these visas should be eliminated.
This concludes Part 2 of this posting. I may add a Part 3 if I receive sufficient feedback to warrant it. Otherwise, future pieces will be somewhat narrower in scope. Finally, a special shout out to Little Ray and Disestablishmentarian at Free Republic for their kind feedback on this piece.
I once again thank those who have troubled themselves to read my work here. And as always I remain most sincerely
K. Evanston Treadwell
(2) See for example the statement of the Mexican official in this article (although incorrect he was apparently sincere in his belief): http://www.cnsnews.com/mrctv-blog/dan-joseph/mexican-embassy-mexicans-illegally-crossing-us-border-are-not-committing-crime
(3) For further information see https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-third-preference-eb-3