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Diary of a Dearborn Democrat -- Act Now on Immigration Reform!

Dearborn Democratic activist Fred Hoffman enters the immigration debate with his own views on how to bring 11 million undocumented residents out of the shadows.

Our country is a special place because it is one of the few countries on earth where people from all corners of the globe come to find opportunity. Ask just about anyone you know to tell you their family's immigration story -- and you'll discover the bottom line is the same : "They came here for a better life." . . . The contexts may have differed; perhaps some sought religious freedom, some wanted to escape war, and some wanted to find meaningful work -- but all wanted opportunity, all wanted to find a plot of land where their children would have lives "better" than their own. That meant access to eduction, access to health care, access to a good job, and access to the freedoms articulated in our Constitution.  - - - SO NOW IS THE TIME TO EXPAND THAT OPPORTUNITY. - - - Now is the time to recognize the reality that there are 11 million people among us living in the shadows because their legal status is undocumented. Clearly, they should not have come the way they did, but just as clearly, they were drawn by the same magnetism that attracted your ancestors and mine. And, the reality is that they are here and they are not going back. . . .They are second and third generation folks who go to work every day, people from all over the world (not just Mexico), and contributors to our communities in every possible way. I know folks in this status (and you do too), and I know it is common sense that we should CREATE A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP for them.  - - - If I were writing the law, I would grant citizenship to everyone under 17 and over 71 living here more than a year. ... I would grant immediate citizenship to those willing to sign up for a two-year hitch in the military, and to those willing to invest $250,000 or more to start a new business. ... I would grant immediate citizenship to those in the immediate family of current Americans, including same sex partners. ...  I would grant citizenship to anyone willing to live  here permanently on the day they earned a master's degree or higher from an American college. ... And I would offer to all others who qualify a citizenship path of service, that is, they would contribute 600 hours of service to governmental or non-profit agencies (roughly 4 hours a week for 3 years) as their way of earning their new American status.  - - - Everyone granted citizenship under the "Hoffman Plan" would have to pass an English language test, demonstrate they plan to live permanently in the U.S., register to vote, be current in all tax obligations and clear criminal background checks.  - - - To some, this may be a radical approach, and of course it needs to be tied to tougher border enforcement so as not to encourage future undocumented visitors, but it is common sense, it is logical and it is very American. To extend the debate longer only keeps these millions of Americans in the shadows and their full economic and cultural contributions unmade. Because it is not only the politically smart thing to do, but the RIGHT THING TO DO, let's pass immigration reform now! 

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Chicago Way January 30, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Look at what other English speaking countries require for just permanent resident status as citizenship is almost out of the question. Australia doesn't want anyone over age 50 or those under age 50 without AUS$500,000 to place on deposit. Singapore doesn't age restrict, but wants US$650,000 to be placed on deposit per applicant. Canada - either have in-country employment and/or purchase real estate for part-time status. The UK - not up for discussion. The days of "bring us your unwashed and downtrodden" are out of a 1930's black and white movie.
Pam February 01, 2013 at 03:09 PM
The illegals wouldn't be here if there wasn't a market for their services. It would help if we assessed those employing them what the true cost of the immigrants' presence is-free medical care, free schools and social services. The employers have it made-service at a slave wage (you don't work on my terms you are reported to INS) with no tax liability to cover the workers' costs. I don't know what the answer is. I don't want to pay for the enormous police action required to deport 11 million people.
laplateau February 01, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Pam, you are absolutely correct. However, I think the cost you refer to regarding deporting illegals would be easily be made up by the reduction of costs you refer to that illegals are now costing us in schooling, welfare, etc. I agree that employers have to be severely penalized if they are found to be using them...say $10,000 per head and maybe even jail time. The illegal could be incarcerated in a southern border prison camp for a minimum of 1 year, during which time they would be required to build that high tech fence along the very places they have originally crossed. The prison camp could the type which Sheriff Arpaiyo has established and is able to feed his inmates on pennies a day. Once the illegal had served his time he could be escorted back across the border, and once employers know of the penalties they face and the illegals realize there will be a years prison time at hard labor in a no nonsense prison camp, I think we might see a line of illegals trying to get back where they came from.
Pam February 01, 2013 at 08:03 PM
I think Dearborn Public Schools' cost for educating a child for a year is above $10,000. Plus that is chicken feed to these employers and they would consider it reasonable - a cost of doing business this way if you will - vis-a-vis the cost of a legal worker. I think at least ten times that for a fine per illegal worker is more in line. And I don't see how you can incarcerate 11 million people, or anywhere near that number.
laplateau February 01, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Of course Pam, you would never incarcerate 11 million at one time...you would never be able to find them all at once, obviously. But, once a program similar to what I wrote, and as I said before, both illegals and employers would start the process of drastically reducing the numbers here because they wouldn't want to bear the consequences. The only real way of solving the problem is to be establish penalties and then enforcing them....strictly.

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