Norman Adams, a Houston Republican who is president of an insurance business that his father founded, took on the quixotic task of trying to persuade delegates to the Republican convention last weekend to change the party's platform concerning immigration. (The new platform is not yet posted on the state party's Web site, but the 2008 platform is; its position on immigration reads, "No Amnesty! No how! No way!")
Adams, who helped found a group called "Texans for a Sensible Immigration Policy," offered an alternative which, of course, was rejected by the convention. But it is worth consideration. Here are his basic points:
1. Secure all borders and ports of entry. America must demand cooperation with Mexico and Canada, enabling US Armed Forces to pursue and eliminate (with deadly force) organized drug cartels, gangs, human smugglers, and terrorists. Any person suspected of entering our country illegally, who refuses to surrender to US Law Enforcement Officers, should be apprehended with whatever force is deemed necessary, including "deadly force.”
2. Immediate positive identification and criminal background checks of all non-citizens residing in the US. In addition, a similar positive ID and criminal background check should be required of every US citizen who attained citizenship since 9/11.
3. Illegal Immigrants who willingly come forward to be positively identified and are found to have no violent criminal record would be granted LPI (Legal Prospective Immigrant) status. LPI status will be a ten year status during which they will be required to pay a monthly fine of $50 ($5000 in ten years). The LPI status will enable them to work and to travel. If they are employed, they will also pay penalty taxes of 150% of the MC/SS taxes citizens pay. The penalty MC/SS tax would be 11.4%, based on the current citizen tax of 7.6%. Immigrants will be allowed to apply to bring immediate family members after five years provided they have paid all fines and penalty taxes and completed English and civics courses, and can prove the ability to support their family.
4. After completing the ten years as LPI's the immigrant will be eligible to apply for LPR (Legal Permanent Residency Status). This would require a new positive ID and criminal background check. If the immigrant qualifies, and has paid all fines, penalty taxes, completed the required educational courses (learned to speak English), he or she will be granted LPR status. LPR's will no longer have to pay fines, but the penalty payroll taxes will apply to their earnings. Those immigrants that were adults when they came here illegally will be allowed no pathway to citizenship. LPR's that were brought here as minors will be able to go to the "back of the line" and apply for citizenship.
5. Employers of non-citizens should be required to match those penalty payroll taxes as an incentive to hire U.S. citizens first!
6. Under this immigration resolution, there are no short cuts to citizenship with the exception of military service.
What Adams is trying to do here is add enough poison pills that it will appear to be punitive toward illegal immigrants. In fact, it is pretty generous. Immigrants are poor people, but $50 a month, which Adams labels a fine, for effect, is really just a fee for renewing LPI status. As for the tax surcharge for social security and Medicaid, this is an effort to persuade the public that immigrants are taxpayers. Which they are.
The plan does have its weaknesses. One is that step one--"secure the border" will never be achieved. It's just words on paper. The border can't really be secured. It is too long and too porous. Is Congress really going to authorize a huge buildup in the Border Patrol, with all the attendant costs? And would such a buildup be effective in stopping immigration? The other problem, and the only really bad idea in the plan, is effort is authorizing "deadly force" against any person suspected of entering the U.S. illegally. Who is going to do the shooting? It can't be the National Guard. The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits [quoting from Wikipedia] "most members of the federal uniformed services ... from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain 'law and order' on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) within the United States. The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress.... Is the DPS going to shoot them down? This won't work. Otherwise, Adams is to be commended for trying to remove the blinders from his party's eyes. Good luck.
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