Immigration Reform for the Sake of National Security

by Bob Price (re-posted with author’s permission – original link)

Immigration reform should be viewed as a matter of national security and not social engineering. Currently our immigration system is more about family reunification than it is about economic needs and national security. In fact, the current system is so broken that we have millions of undocumented people wandering around the country,  and we have no idea who they are, why they are here, or the history of their background. The current system must be reformed, not to pander to the voting block of one particular group or another, but rather because our national needs require it.

Many times groups try to label any attempt at immigration reform as amnesty. They dig their heels into the ground screaming “Amnesty, Amnesty” like it is some kind of honorable battle cry. The reality is, their blocking of immigration reform has actually granted a de facto amnesty to those who have entered the country illegally and those who entered legally but remained after their visas expired. Millions of people are allowed to stay without examination as to purpose or history. This is a dangerous situation to us all.

Furthermore, our current stance of increasing border security (which should continue) without correcting the problems of our broken immigration system have led to much lawlessness along the border and across the nation. While our borders have become more secure, we do not have any kind of guest worker program for people to come here legally, which has created a market for human trafficking and slavery. Instead of simply applying for a legal work permit, people who are starving for work to support their families are forced to engage in criminal behavior to come here. Not only do they spend thousands of dollars to human smugglers, they end up bringing their families because it is too difficult to come and go legally.

The revenue of human trafficking along our borders also helps fuel the armies of the drug cartels. A virtual civil war is going on along our southern border making parts of Mexico more dangerous than Iraq. Thousands of Mexicans are being killed because of this. Furthermore, once the human cargo has arrived in the United States, we have created more lawlessness as many unscrupulous employers will illegally hire these workers and improperly misclassified them as independent contractors, pay them sub-standard wages, steal wages from their workers and deprive the government of much needed tax revenue.

Most of the millions of people who are here and who come here illegally, do so without any evil intent. They come here seeking work and wages whereby they can support themselves and their families. But for those who do come here with criminal intent, our broken system enables them to hide in the shadows. Once they have committed crimes, they can simply change their names and disappear into the darkness, or they can simply move to another community and start over again. A reformed system should provide for a biometric identification system which would render annonymity much more difficult.

In addition to the national security needs of our nation, immigration reform is also needed for economic reasons. Despite the fact that our nation suffers from high levels of unemployment and underemployment, there is still a high and unfulfilled demand for manual labor workers. Our current education system is focused on sending people to colleges and universities for high-paying white-collar jobs. In the mean time, employers in the service, construction, agriculture and many other industries struggle to find workers.

Immigration Reform and Guest Worker Programs are not about providing cheap labor to employers. It is about providing workers who are willing to do the work. I remember hearing President Bush, in a State of the Union speech, say that we need immigrant workers to do the jobs American’s won’t do. I was angry – very angry. I thought that was a lie. But as I have studied this problem and talked with employers who want and can’t find legal workers in adequate supply, I have learned that it really is true. Groups like FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA claim that a guest worker program would create a slave-labor class of workers. The exact opposite is true. Our current broken system has already created a slave labor pool of unidentified workers who cannot compete in the open marketplace and who are afraid to report substandard wages and wage theft.

McAllen International Bridge between US and Mexico

Workers participating in a legal guest worker program would be able to compete in the open marketplace for jobs. If an employer attempted to abuse the worker’s rights either by paying substandard wages or comitting wage theft, the worker would be able to report the employer’s unethical and illegal behaviors as well as move to another job.

Immigration reform would also help legitimate employers in the marketplace. Under our current system, unethical employers are able to have an improper competitive advantage over companies who seek to follow the law. They do this by avoiding taxes through misclassifying workers as independent contractors, paying substandard wages and even stealing wages from a captive slave-labor market. In addition to unfair business competition, these unethical employers also place a burden on taxpayers. By misclassifying workers as independent contractors, they allow deadbeat parents to hide from the child support collection process thereby adding single parents not receiving child support to our welfare roles. Furthermore, by not providing workmen’s compensation and health insurance benefits to their “independent contractors”, workers who are injured on the job end up being dumped in emergency rooms adding to our expanding healthcare costs. Additionally, many of these employers hold these workers under hostile conditions where they are truly held as captors in a slave-labor market.

Border Security and Immigration Reform must both move forward. Not because it is pandering to one side or the other, but because it is the right thing to do for our nation’s security, social and economic needs. The current standoff plays into the hands of Democrats who want to keep the issue as a wedge issue to separate some conservatives from voting for Republicans. But more importantly, it is simply an ongoing amnesty for the people who are here and for those who illegally and improperly profit from this stalemate. We must continue to make the borders more secure, but we cannot wait until some date in the future to also address the issue of reforming our broken immigration system.


  1. Are these the new Republican talking points on immigration? It sounds to me like the GOP is saying forget about enforcement, allow more legal immigrants to provide more cheap labor. It seems like the Republican Party is again putting party first and country last. America needs a real conservative party with some core principles now.

  2. Cafe Con Leche says

    Bob “conservative” principles include limited government and reliance on free market principles for our economy. “Conservative” principles also include the ‘rule of law.’

    Our current immigration system, with it’s arbitrary quotas and massive bureaucracy, was invented by early modern progressives to keep out those they thought were genetically inferior., at the time non-Europeans and Southern and Eastern Europeans. The first quotas, in 1921 and 1924, were set well below immigration levels at the time, and within several years we had several million unauthorized immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe who were eventually given amnesty.

    During the great depression, we expelled over one million “Mexicans” of which 60% were U.S. Citizens and most of the rest were legal immigrants. It was claimed these “Mexicans” took jobs from “real” Americans, yet for some reason expelling them didn’t improve unemployment. Many U.S. citizens who were forced out struggled for many years to return to the nation they called home.

    A true “conservative” immigration system relies on market forces to determine immigration levels, not arbitrary quotas disconnected from labor needs. We currently issue 1.7 million non-immigrant work visas per year, nearly all of which are subject to strict quotas, but we have 8.7 million ‘guest workers.’ In other words, we issue visas less than 20% of our labor needs. We also rank #22 among 34 OECD nations in legal immigration inflows as a percentage of population, with immigration at 0.34% of population.

    Enforcement is part and parcel of any system of laws, but no amount of enforcement can overcome bad policy. If we lowered speed limits on our highways to 20 MPH we’d likewise have massive enforcement issues. We could then throw speeders in jail and hold them indefinitely without bond, strip their children of citizenship, and probably still have a problem with speeding, or we could step back, use logic and conclude a 20 MPH speed limit was unrealistic in the first place and set new speed limits based on safety consideration.

    This nation had a similar experience with prohibition of alcohol. Getting rid of alcohol at the time sounded like a great idea, but half the American population thought that was ridiculous and drank booze anyway. After years of heavy handed enforcement and the violent crime that followed crime syndicates involvement with distribution and sale of booze, we finally realized prohibition wasn’t realistic and repealed prohibition, instead regulating the distribution and sale of alcohol.

  3. Randy Pullen says

    This is just a rehash of the debate that has been going on for a decade. Nothing new is added. The securing of our borders is critical to the security and sovereignty of the U.S. Until we accomplish this, no immigration plan will work. It is doable, but we don’t seem to be able to get our federal government to adhere to its own laws.

    Do we want and need new legal immigrants, sure, but the right kind. We need educated knowledge workers and skilled labor. The current immigration plan focuses on Diversification and family reunification. A merit system that focuses on the skill sets we need is more appropriate and consistent with moth of the advanced countries in the world.

    Mr. Price and Cafe Con Leche need to get past these old talking points.

    • Charles Joiner says

      Illegal immigration is corruption on an industrial scale. The regulations instituted under various federal and state statutes, OSHA, Family leave, Minimum Wage, Equal opportunity, etc., etc., etc., make it highly profitable to hire those not subject to same those laws and regulations. Any firm that is willing to break these laws has a definite economic advantage over the competition. (and if you can hire them through subcontractors and avoid the legal risks, so much the better).
      At the end of the day the immigration controversy is a red herring. The federal courts will not allow punishment sever enough to deter any crime. It was not that long ago that we had hard labor for serious crimes, assault, theft, embezzlement, etc. and the death penalty (applied with little delay) for heinous crimes, murder, forcible rape and so forth. We had very little crime. And I was there, I remember those days very well. We will not fix anything (crime, illegal immigration, anything) until we reform this banana republic legal system.

    • Cafe Con Leche says

      Randy, this debate has been going on since the progressive era. From the beginning of our Republic illegal immigration has been a problem, whenever immigration policies have been severely disconnected from economic needs, massive illegal immigration resulted. When the importation of slaves was prohibited, but not the practice or need for slaves, the mass importation of slaves continued, illegally rather than legally.

      When Chinese were needed to work on railroads in the 19th century West but Congress passed a law barring Chinese immigration without eliminating the need for railroad construction workers, massive illegal immigration resulted.

      Ditto when Congress passed low quotas on Southern and Eastern Europeans in the 1920s. We had several million unauthorized immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe within several years, who were eventually given amnesty. None of the rationale for severely limiting immigration from Southern or Eastern Europe ever materialized. The same myths present in the 1920s continue today, with the main difference the demography of today’s immigrants.

      Following the expulsion of one million “Mexicans” during the depression era (of which 60% were citizens), we soon found ourselves with labor shortages during WWII, and then after the war when braceros worker quotas failed to keep up with demand we once again experienced massive illegal immigration.

      In the 1920s, the U.S. banned the sale and distribution of alcohol, a policy that proved futile as 50% of Americans thought prohibition was a ridiculous idea, and consumed alcohol anyway. After years of massive enforcement attempts and widespread growth of criminal syndicates profiting immensely from alcohol, we finally concluded it made more sense to regulate than try to ban alcohol altogether, and return the sale and distribution of alcohol to legal channels, depriving mobsters of massive profits. Using an “enforcement first” philosophy alcohol would remain banned until drinking stopped, and we’d probably have tens of millions of Americans in jail for drinking alcohol. Would that make sense? No.

      40% of today’s unauthorized immigrants didn’t illegally enter the U.S. They entered legally with tourist or other types of non-work authorized visas, and never left. Had work visas been available, that 40% and likely most of those who entered illegally would have followed the process for obtaining a guest worker visa. However, the U.S. issues 1.7 million guest worker visas per year, and nearly all work type visas are subject to strict and arbitrary quotas. We have seven million additional ‘guest workers’ who lack visas. In other words, we issue guest worker visas equal to 20% of demand for guest workers. The evidence these workers take jobs most Americans don’t want is overwhelming. If you don’t believe me go ask farmers from Alabama and Georgia, who saw billions in crops rot in the fields when their work force evaporated following state level immigration laws. Just 12% of non-citizen agricultural workers have visas, and most farmers will tell you the H2A agricultural guest worker is hopelessly broken.

      We have the capacity to detain and deport approximately 400,000 immigrants per year, but we have 11 million unauthorized immigrants, and in some places the process takes up to five years because the immigration courts are already so back logged. However, net illegal immigration from Mexico has dropped to zero, a reflection of the state of our economy versus Mexico’s recently vibrant economy, and evidence that illegal immigration levels are more a reflection of our need for guest workers rather than levels of enforcement.

      I don’t condone illegal immigration, and enforcement is part and parcel of any system of laws. If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have agreed that we just need more enforcement, but after becoming much more informed about this issue I concluded enforcement alone won’t solve this problem, just as massive levels of enforcement didn’t make alcohol prohibition work either.

      We’ve been pursuing enforcement-only strategies to combat illegal immigration since 1996, and clearly enforcement is not a manageable. We need more than enforcement. We need sensible immigration policies that meet the needs of our economy, and not just for highly skilled professionals either. Sensible reforms would divert most ‘guest workers’ from illegal channels to legal channels, while also providing more protection against unscrupulous employers, and assurances that taxes are paid, etc.

      Philosophically I look at our present system of arbitrary quotas and attempts at social engineering via immigration as an example of failed progressivism. Government should not be in the business of telling employers how many guest workers they can have, but certainly government should ensure that immigrants and guest workers have no criminal background, have had physical exams, etc. Government has a role to pay in ensuring public safety, but not regulating wages, employment levels, etc.

  4. Jill Arizona says
  5. TruConserv says

    ‘Currently our immigration system is more about family reunification than it is about economic needs and national security.”

    And with this one line we learn the author has no idea what America’s policies are nor how they are enforced.

    There is NO policy for family reunification. None. Not one. If I’m wrong, then give me the cite to the CFR or the USCS where anything, ANYTHING, remotely like family reunification is expressed in a law or regulation.

    Indeed, our policies do the exact opposite, something the libs want to change. We routinely break apart families were the children are citizens and the parents are not, something I support. So why the need to lie about the current policies?

    Our policies, good or bad, are all about national security and economic protection. They may be bad policies, they may be policies that need reform – but mindlessly repeating extremist crap that takes no basis in reality does nothing to move forward the debate on how to fix our borders.

    America rejected the radical right-wing lying machine, to our shared shame, in the last election. I posit that conservatives win when conservatives speak truthfully about the issues. Our positions are based in reality and common sense. Let’s give that a try, shall we? No more lies.

    • Cafe Con Leche says

      You should reread the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). It is very much about family reunification, giving preference to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and highly skilled professionals. A good summary of these provisions (less legaleeze) can be found here at the Practicing Law Institute.

      • Too bad the coward known as Shane doesn’t allow traditional, true conservatives to participate in his forum, the rebuttal is so very, very simple.

        But, alas, Shane is only in love with the wingnuts – and it’s guys like him that cost conservatives the election.

      • Now that’s funny. Several detailed posts were not placed on the board … the one to Shane alone makes it. Wonder if this one will.

        The INA, passed in 1952.


        Today is 2012.

        The INA represents a small, small, aspect of our national immigration policy – but yes, it is out there, so good on you for finding what is effectively nothing.

        If I can again post, I’ll write more …

  6. American Tea says

    Why is Sonoran Alliance suddenly posting pro-amnesty, pro-mass immigration policies? Is “Cafe Con Leche” paying the site? Probably. I would urge Sonoran alliance to reconsider, or at least post some balanced views, as the vast majority of right leaning Arizonans oppose the policies being advocated.

    I’ll breifly give my two cents, not that I expect the them to actually be posted.

    Firstly, the name “Cafe Con Leche” is very racist in it’s connotations. Literally translated it is “Coffee with Milk” What does this imply? Well, pretty simple. Have you added cream to your coffee? Well, Hispanics are the sea of brown coffee and White Americans are the milk/cream. In other words, a sea of brown with a little white in there for flavor. It is not a surprise that those who support mass immigration support the displacement of whites, but to say it in such an open way, even naming their activest group after the idea is very offensive.

    Secondly, in regards to immigration in general-

    The Republican party has not ever done well with Hispanics. Not ever. Not before amnesty, not after amnesty, not running multiple presidential candidates and having multiple presidents who supported (and gave) amnesty. Not after running countless politicians at every level of government who supported it. Simply granting amnesty is not the answer and inviting more immigrants who have never voted Republican in large numbers is downright suicidal for the party. Perhaps this is what “Cafe con Leche” wants? Maybe they are Democrats in disguise?

    Besides, If Obama signs an amnesty, he will get the credit, not Republicans.

    We are not short of immigrants. We take in more than 1 million LEGALLY per year. There is no shortage. That is more than enough. Perhaps too many.

    Yet, for purely political reasons, “Cafe con Leche” wants the party to ignore all these LEGAL invited immigrants who follow the law and spend years and large sums of money following the proper procedures. This is beyond unfair. It is disgusting! If I were a legal immigrant, I would never vote Republican after amnesty was given to illegals, because it’s like being spit on and told “screw you, you should have just come illegally and saved all your time and money.”

    Illegal aliens are not simply folks looking for work. Many commit identity theft and document fraud to perpetuate their illegal status without being caught. Are you going to reward this for political reasons? What about tresspassing? Trashing the desert? Burdening the public school and health care system? Deliberately coming here to have child and take advantage of birthright citizenship (anchor babies)? You want to reward that? You also apparently want to incentivize more to come in the future hoping for another amnesty.

    You talk of national security, well, 6 hijackers who attacked us on 9/11 overstayed their visas and were here ILLEGALLY. How many security threats might get in under an amnesty? No one knows, but it will probably be a lot.

    I can go on and on and give you all more reasons, but I really don’t feel like typing any more. I really shouldn’t have to since we are a nation which supposedly has the “rule of law.” And yes, this means as a sovereign nation WE THE PEOPLE (through our elected representatives) DO get to decide who we invite into our country and who we exclude and why. There is no “market based solution” when it comes to allowing unlimited numbers of foreigners to come here against the will of the people already living here. Sorry, but laws matter, and should be enforced.

    I will not support anyone in any party who wants to reward illegal immigration. The Republican party will lose more votes than it gains if it pursues an Amnesty/Mass Immigration agenda.

    • Cafe Con Leche says

      Wow, so many myths and misstatements of facts in one comment. I’ll try to address them one by one.

      First of all, Cafe Con Leche Republicans was invited to post on Sonoran Alliance. We don’t pay for posting privileges on any blog including Sonoran Alliance, and it is my understanding Sonoran Alliance wants a range of conservative opinions.

      You are flat wrong about Republican attitudes on immigration. According to a rather in-depth study by Pew Research in May 2011, a slight majority of Republicans support immigration reform, including a path to legalization involving payment of a fine, background check, etc., and even “staunch conservatives” are split 49%/49% on immigration reform. Many prominent conservatives support immigration reform. You can start with both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, then add Grover Norquist. Ronald Reagan also supported immigration reform, though notably he was disappointed that Congress failed to follow up promptly on border security, and never has followed up on fixing our guest worker programs.

      If you had bothered to read Cafe Con Leche Republicans’ mission statement and guiding principles you would have found we don’t support amnesty. From our guiding principles:

      We respect the U.S. constitution and the rule of law, even as we seek to reform our laws to achieve our mission. We don’t condone illegal immigration, neither do we demonize undocumented immigrants. We seek humane immigration reform based on free market principles and family unity. We oppose both amnesty and mass deportation, instead seeking middle ground that balances personal responsibility with the needs of our economy and family unification.

      Strong border security is essential for national defense. We do not support ‘open borders’, and a properly functioning legal immigration system enhances border security by providing an entry line for those who seek to work as guests or join with family. Conversely, a legal immigration system that is severely disconnected from free market needs is a root cause of illegal immigration.

      You are conflating “amnesty” with “path to legality.” The term “amnesty” got a bad reputation because of the 1986 immigration reforms. Congress never followed up on other steps like guest worker programs, and did not get serious about border security until much later. A path to legality is just one part of a broad-based immigration reform, and in particular if guest worker programs aren’t fixed we will have more illegal immigration as the economy recovers (post-Obama).

      There are a range of solutions to address the 11 million or so unauthorized immigrants already here. Amnesty is one solution, which we don’t favor because it is corrosive to the ‘rule of law’ and unfair to those who waited a very long time to come here legally. Mass deportations is also not a practical solution, is not humane, and would wreck sectors of our economy unless guest worker programs are addressed. We prefer to find middle ground, neither mass amnesty nor mass deportations. Make unauthorized immigrants who meet a strict set of criteria pay a stiff fine and remain here with a temporary legal status, getting in the back of the line for permanent residency. No line cutting in front of those who waited. Any solution involving legalization needs to strike a balance between accountability and fairness to those who obeyed the law.

      You are plain wrong about U.S. immigration levels. Among OECD nations we rank #22 with immigration inflow at 0.34% of population. Other nations such as Canada readily assimilate higher levels of legal immigration. Canada, for example, welcomes 0.83% of its population every year, while Switzerland welcomes 1.75%, and Luxembourg heads the list at 3.12%. If anti-any-immigrant groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA, CIS, etc. get there way, U.S. legal immigration levels will drop to 1956 levels after a ten year timeout of no immigration, which would make the U.S. #32 among 34 OECD nations.

      We issue guest worker visas for just 20% of our ‘guest workers.’ One could argue 80% of ‘guest workers’ are undocumented because of lack of enforcement, but we believe our guest worker system doesn’t reflect needs, particularly in sectors like agriculture where just 12% of non-citizen workers have some type of visa. Georgia and Alabama farmers experienced losses in the billions following their crackdowns on illegal immigration.

      Republican support among Hispanics steadily improved among Hispanics following years of constructive engagement, with George W. Bush receiving 44% of the Hispanic vote in his reelection. Pew Research consistently finds that over 60% of Hispanics are center-right, which should result in more Hispanic Republicans, but instead we’re losing Hispanic Republicans. Hispanics also start up twice as many businesses than Americans in general, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, also a positive indicator for Republicans.

      There was a strong positive trend of GOP support among Hispanics until the shrill immigration rhetoric started during Bush’s second term, and its been downhill ever since. I would add that the GOP used to be competitive in statewide races in California, UNTIL all the shrill rhetoric about immigration started with proposition 187. California Hispanics left the GOP in droves, and after the temporary bump in other demographics that resulted from proposition 187 the California GOP has won few statewide races. Now we see the same phenomenon on the national stage. It’s that simple. Mitt Romney lost Asians by an even larger margin than Hispanics, but Asians used to vote overwhelmingly Republican.

      The Republican Party fared poorly among all immigrants in the early days. Nativists from the “know nothing” American Party joined the GOP when the “know nothing” party disintegrated. Abe Lincoln wisely ignored the Nativists and reached out to German immigrants, who had been voting Democrat because quite frankly Whigs and then Republicans had not been reaching out to them. Lincoln even bought a German language newspaper to help with outreach. Lincoln won both presidential campaigns in large part due to the German-American vote.

      Either we change how we are perceived among Hispanics and Asians or we will go the way of the Whigs. It’s that simple.

  7. This article is a joke. Our Immigration System is broken because we don’t enforce our Federal Immigration Laws. We allow sanctuary communities to exist in this country. Most of all, we allowed the Mexican Cartels to grow and influence our local, state, and federal governments. We need enforcement through attrition and we need to CLOSE BUSINESSES who knowingly hire illegal aliens. DHS Secretary Janet Napalitano admitted the cost of illegal alien immigration in the US has not exceeded the cost to deport 20 million foreign nationals (google the story). If Obama gives hands out Citizenship to 20 million foreign nationals, there will be a civil war in this country.

    • This article is a joke. Our Immigration System is broken because we don’t enforce our Federal Immigration Laws. We allow sanctuary communities to exist in this country. Most of all, we allowed the Mexican Cartels to grow and influence our local, state, and federal governments. We need enforcement through attrition and we need to CLOSE BUSINESSES who knowingly hire illegal aliens. DHS Secretary Janet Napalitano admitted the cost of illegal alien immigration in the US has now exceeded the cost to deport 20 million foreign nationals (google the story). If Obama gives hands out Citizenship to 20 million foreign nationals, there will be a civil war in this country.

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