The first order of business in dealing with our illegal alien problem is to secure the southern border by building a double-layer fence along everyone of its 2,000 miles. Good fences make good neighbors, as the saying goes, and they work to boot. One of the reasons Arizona has seen such a spike in illegal crossings is that functioning double-layer fences in parts of California and Texas are funneling border trespassers to the Copper State.
I once heard of a mental hospital which developed a simple test to determine if residents were ready for life on the outside. They'd turn all the faucets on in the shower room, then send a resident in there with a mop and a bucket and instructions to clean up the mess. The only ones who were sane enough for life in the real world were the ones who first turned off the taps before starting to mop up. So the first thing we've got to do is stop the flooding of illegals across our borders. A border fence will do the job nicely.
Then we can turn to the issue of what we do with the illegals that are already here. I continue to hear evangelical proponents of amnesty talk as if secure border advocates want to round up all 12-18 million illegal aliens in the U.S. and deport them en masse.
No one I know is seriously advocating that approach. It's a straw man, and a sly way of attributing to secure border proponents views they've never expressed.
Mass deportation is obviously impractical. What is practical is to deal with the problem of our illegal population through attrition.
That is, we repatriate an illegal alien whenever he comes into contact with any government agency, whether law enforcement, a school, a public hospital or clinic, a welfare office, or a public housing agency. Proof of legal residency should be required of anyone who wants to tap into taxpayer-funded programs, and if an applicant cannot provide it, and a check indicates he has no legal right to be here, he can and should be be returned to his native land.
Businesses should be required to use the E-Verify program for new hires, which will soon dry up the job market for illegals. Many of them will self-deport if they cannot find work here. When Oklahoma implemented an aggressive E-Verify program, illegals began leaving the state in droves, headed for places like Texas which do not have E-Verify laws in place. When Texans begin to experience the full weight of dealing with their own illegal population plus the illegal population of Oklahoma, they're liable to get their minds right on E-Verify in a big hurry.
Illegal immigration numbers have dropped since the onset of the recession because illegals have fewer employment options. This simply proves that denying access to employment opportunities is a marvelous incentive for border trespassers to return home on their own nickel.
Many amnesty proponents argue against repatriation on grounds that we are breaking up families. We believe in the nuclear family, and we don't want to see family separation any more than they do. The simple solution is to repatriate whole families together.
Now if members of a deportee's family want to stay in the U.S., and can do so legally, that's their choice. If they choose not to return with their families, then they would be the ones breaking up the family, not the United States. All who believe in the rule of law, freedom of choice, and family unification should support this approach.
Steady use of attrition means three things. First, more and more illegals will slowly and gradually be repatriated to their homelands.
Second, illegals will stop being a drain on taxpayer resources. Arizona taxpayers have been soaked to the tune of $2.7 billion a year for costs imposed by illegal aliens for services such as education, welfare, medical care and law enforcement. If illegals discover that trying to access government services means a taxpayer-funded trip to their country of origin, they will rapidly become more self-sufficient than they ever thought possible.
Third, the illegals who remain will be the most law-abiding residents we have. They will be careful to obey every law and to depend upon themselves and their families rather than government services. We can't round them all up, but we can give them every incentive to behave and become self-reliant.
The solution to our problem of illegal immigration is quite simple: a fence and attrition. All that's lacking is the political will. The only question is whether we will find the will in time to save the United States.