A Reformed US Immigration Policy

On Christmas Day, Pogonip asked:

Can you post your view of the ideal immigration policy? I’d like to read it.

Pogonip asked for it and now you all will have to suffer… This post will, as a result of the topic, be long, so a lot of it will be after the jump.

I think that there are several policy changes that could and should be made to US immigration policy to bring the overall US immigration policy into the 21st century. Right now, like so much of US foreign and domestic policy, US immigration policy is a hodgepodge of specific policies on each issue or set of issues that are rooted in both statutory and presidential/executive branch decision making. Often the latter, executive branch policies are both built onto the statutory derived policy in an attempt to keep the policy relevant to what has both changed and is actually occurring in the years since the legislation on the issue was passed. And while these policies may be coherent and make sense individually or within selected sets, they are not necessarily working well overall. The last major and comprehensive legislative adjustment to US immigration policy was the US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Since then there have been both large and small adjustments, such as both the Reagan and Bush 41 amnesties for undocumented workers in the US, as well as several attempts at comprehensive reform, including attempts supported by both the Bush 43 and Obama administrations. These latter two attempts at comprehensive reform were killed off by the most extreme nativists within the GOP Caucuses in the House and the Senate.

Given this history, here are four policy changes that would make progress in improving how the US deals with immigration in the second decade of the 21st century.

Establish a Guest Worker Registry

The creation of a guest worker registry, specifically to get those who are in the US and working in an undocumented status. This would also provide the guest worker or workers the ability to move not just themselves, but also their families and dependents who are with them, into a documented status. There are several advantages to instituting a guest worker registry and begin its implementation for those who are already in the US and functioning in this capacity. The most important one is that it gets them out of the shadow economy. Having undocumented immigrants, whether they entered the US without proper immigration papers in search of work or they overstayed their entry visits and are working without the appropriate paperwork, on the licit economy will have several benefits.It will create the economic benefits of being able to properly account for their labor in the tax rolls at all levels of government. This way guest workers will contribute to the municipal, state, and Federal tax base and be able to draw appropriate social services – from attendance of children in public schools to healthcare – without being considered tax cheats.  There inclusion within the licit economy will also bring in needed revenue for social security, medicare, and medicaid. A guest worker program and registry will also reduce crime. Undocumented immigrants are easy prey. They are easy prey for employers that would exploit them, just as they are tempting targets for criminals who know that they are unlikely to go to the police for fear of being detained and deported.

A properly established guest worker registry would include a vetting process to determine which undocumented immigrants and workers already in the US should be eligible for and awarded guest worker status, as well as eligibility for those not currently here, but wishing to come to the US and work without seeking permanent resident status or citizenship. For instance, convictions for violent and serious non-violent crimes should and would be cause for rejection of an application. And since we know that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants and workers in the US commit far fewer crimes, including violent crimes, a guest worker program would establish a more equitable system for dealing with undocumented immigrants and workers currently in the US instead of whipsawing back and forth from one presidential administration to the next’s determination of what makes an undocumented immigrant eligible for detention and deportation.

Adjust Grants of Asylum and Awards of Refugee Status

While the US has both congressionally originated legislation, as well as treaty obligations that function as if they are US statutory requirements, regarding who is and is not eligible for grants of asylum and being awarded refugee status, the reality is that each presidential administration adjusts both the who and the how many. Currently, Stephen Miller and the fellow travelers he’s salted away across several executive branch departments and agencies, have managed to short circuit the normal, State Department led annual determination of how many foreigners qualify for refugee status and resettlement in the US. And Miller, as well as his fellow travelers, have also been attempting to rewrite US asylum laws and treaty obligations pertaining to asylum through executive orders issued by the President. While some adjustment from one administration to the next is normal, what Miller has been able to orchestrate is both something completely different and, frankly, un-American in terms of America’s ideals. It is, unfortunately, all to American in actual application. And, I fear, will be used by Miller’s fellow travelers in both the nativist, anti-immigration community as a whole and in the Republican Party to scream bloody murder when the next Democratic administration seeks to return the annual totals back to normalcy. Miller and his fellow travelers ability to severely restrict the quota numbers create a ticket time bomb for them to exploit when a future administration seeks to reestablish appropriate numbers regarding refugees.

In order to prevent having unaccountable, appointed, revanchist white supremacist aides hijack America’s asylum and refugee system in their attempt to re-whiten the US, there needs to be some serious changes made to how the US handles both asylum seekers and those seeking refugee status. The first change is that the threat of both serious criminal and domestic violence that result from the originating country’s political instability and inability to enforce their own laws need to be legislatively established as a valid reason to seek and be granted asylum in the US. Given that many of those fleeing instability in Central America to seek asylum in the US are fleeing the local effects of the political, social, and economic instability of those Central American states that manifest as criminal predation and domestic violence and abuse, these should be recognized as legitimate reasons to seek and be granted asylum. Especially as so much of the political, social, and economic instability in Central America is the result of well over a century of US meddling in the region. The waves of asylum seekers that we are seeing today are one of the downstream second and third order effects of decades of US actions in Central America. Successive US administrations pursuit of what they defined as America’s interests in the region and the hemisphere have contributed to the ongoing and current instability. As a result the US bears a responsibility to provide assistance, through acceptance of those fleeing that instability, through grants of asylum in the US.

A similar dynamic exists regarding refugees. A lot of those seeking to come to the US as refugees are coming from the Levant, primarily Iraq and Syria, as well as Afghanistan. The US’s strategic failures in both Operation Enduring Freedom and its successor mission Operation New Dawn in Afghanistan, as well as in Operation Iraqi Freedom, have destabilized both the Levant and Afghanistan. Additionally, the US’s support for Saudi Arabia, through the sale of weapons and the provision of military training, advise, and assistance missions (both conducted by US uniformed personnel and by contractors), in their religiocidal conflict in Yemen, has also destabilized southwestern Arabia. In all of these cases the US has a responsibility to accept properly vetted refugees and resettle them in the US. It should not be necessary for Americans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or all three in military and civilian capacities to have to fight their own governments to get their host country interpreters and translators awarded refugee status and relocated to the US with their families to ensure their safety. Safety that these host country partners willingly put at risk because they believed the US was there to help them fix their countries.

Despite what the President and his supporters say, we have an excellent and very vigorous process for assessing refugee and asylum seekers claims. What really needs to be reformed is the process by which the US government determines how many can be accepted each year and for what reasons they can be granted asylum and/or refugee status. A process for doing so should be created and established via legislation. And the legislation should require that the process, including the metrics used to determine the annual limits, be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure it is working as desired. For instance, every ten years. This is not a sunset clause, rather the requirement of mandatory review and, if necessary, revision.

Create a Comprehensive Resettlement Program for Guest Workers, Asylees, and Refugees

In order to make the reforms denoted above, it will be necessary to create a comprehensive resettlement program and system for guest workers, asylees, and refugees. To a certain extent, especially for the guest workers, the market for employees to do specific types of work, such as agricultural field hands, will assist in determining where the guest workers go. However, a comprehensive resettlement program has the ability to make a positive difference not just in the lives of guest workers, asylees, and refugees, but also in small towns across America that are dying as their younger residents move away looking for better opportunities. There is both scholarly research and news reporting that indicates that one of the best ways to save non-metropolitan towns is through relocating immigrants to them. Establishing a resettlement system for immigrants, guest workers, asylees, and refugees that seeks to maximize the advantages they bring to the US would be good for both those seeking better lives in America and the small towns in need of revival.

Transform Immigration Judges from Administrative Judges to Title III Judges

Currently immigration judges and immigration courts are administrative judges and courts. Specifically, these courts are established by the Department of Justice and the judges work for the Attorney General. Aside from the fact that there are often too few immigration judges and courts, the fact that they were administrative and not Title III has normally not been a major problem. Unfortunately not being a problem was dependent on not having an unreconstructed neo-Confederate and white supremacist as attorney general. Jeff Sessions was able to severely limit the scope and authority of immigration judges and their courts because they are under the direct control of the Attorney General of the United States. He specifically went shopping for immigration court cases that he could use to remake the rules for what does and does not qualify for an award of asylum just by issuing a memo. Fortunately, the Federal courts have stepped in and blocked this for the time being. However, given the abuse of the oversight power of the Office of the Attorney General regarding immigration courts and judges, this ticking time bomb cannot be left lying around for future bigots to use for their own xenophobic, racist, and nativist ends. The only way to ensure the independence of the immigration courts and the judges who preside over them is to remake them as Title III courts where they will be outside the abuse of the next Jeff Sessions. And there is always a next Jeff Sessions waiting for his or her chance to harm others with a smile on his or her face.

Reform, Restructure, and Relocate US Immigration Enforcement Authority

Right now two Department of Homeland Security agencies, Customs and Border Patrol (C&BP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), are primarily responsible for dealing with both documented and undocumented immigrants into the US. And because the vast majority of Americans live within 75 miles of the border, including coasts and points of entry at airports and seaports, C&BP and ICE, which have enforcement authority within a 100 miles of the border, have enforcement authority over the vast majority of the US population. This has led to abuses. One of the major problems with both C&BP and ICE is that they are composite agencies created in the panicked frenzy in the wake of the 911 attacks. In the case of the former they are responsible for both some customs enforcement and for patrolling the border. The latter is responsible for immigration enforcement, as well as customs enforcement.

This is not an effective, efficient, or intelligent way to delegate handling these issues. It would be far better for customs enforcement issues to be separated out and put in its own agency. And since this is a form of law enforcement related to import duties, that agency should be relocated under the Department of the Treasury. Immigration should also be separated out into two separate agencies. The first should be located under the State Department and should be responsible for handling issues pertaining to immigration. As in who qualifies for a visa, what type, how long can they stay, oversight of naturalization, things like that. The enforcement arm, as in policing those who are either undocumented entries, undocumented overstays, or who violate the provisions on their entry visas, should be separated into its own agency and relocated under the Department of Justice. Finally, border enforcement should be its own department, which could remain within DHS or be relocated to the Department of Justice. My natural preference is for the latter as I think providing DHS with Federal law enforcement functions is inherently dangerous and, to be honest, that DHS should be dissolved and the agencies, bureaus, and departments within in it returned to where they originated before it was created as a rushed and panicked response to the 911 attacks.

There are other reasons to break agencies like ICE up. As someone who has done inservice training for an ICE field office on how to leverage cultural information to conduct better engagements with the communities that ICE officers have to interact with and police, I can honestly tell you that ICE has its own internal professional cultural problem; it was created out of only semi-related parts as part of the the creation of DHS, and those parts don’t really hang well together. A similar issue exists for Customs and Border Patrol. As a result the best thing we can do is separate these agencies out by their functions, consolidate those, such as customs enforcement, where appropriate, relocate them within more appropriate departmental homes, and then revise recruitment and training requirements.

I’m going to stop with these five proposed policy changes. Some will have to be done legislatively, some might be able to be done through executive branch action. But all of them are needed to bring US immigration policy into the 21st century. And while they resolve some of our current immigration related challenges, they will, no doubt, create new ones.

Update at 1:15 AM EST

Now that the site is back up, I want to add three additional proposed policy changes based on being reminded I didn’t explicitly deal with them by several commenters. The first is that the cap on legal immigration needs to be raised. People who want to come here to make a better life, become Americans by choice, and contribute to forming a more perfect union should be encouraged to do so, not discouraged by too low caps. Furthermore, once here and seeking citizenship, the process to do so needs to be streamlined and it also needs to be insulated from the type of political manipulation, maladministration, and malfeasance of the current administration. People seeking to become naturalized American citizens shouldn’t have to live in fear that a bunch of racist nativists will get political appointments solely so they can work out their issues by messing around with the lives of immigrants. Finally, a permanent fix needs to be instituted for the Dreamers so they can move forward with their lives without fear that their entire existences can be upended based on an executive order or a Federal appellate court or Supreme Court ruling.

Open thread!

81 replies
  1. 1
    Lapassionara says:

    Hey, Adam. This is a very thoughtful and comprehensive piece. Thank you.

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Lapassionara: You’re welcome.

  3. 3
    germy says:

    “TL;DR”

    – Donald Trump

  4. 4
    debbie says:

    How would the people who overstay their visas be handled, or even found?

  5. 5

    What about legal immigration?

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: What about it?

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: Same way we always find them: investigative work. But in this case, part of what you do is create a series of outreach programs for those in the country who are undocumented, regardless of how, to get into the guest worker program.

  8. 8

    @debbie: Most visa overstays don’t stay here long enough to become illegal immigrants. Long term visa overstays are not really all that common. This is another scare statistic produced by Tanton funded anti-immigration think tanks. Other than making this a police state I don’t see how you can find each and every visa overstay.

  9. 9

    @Adam L Silverman: Your post does not address it. The president wants to get rid of several paths to permanent residence status.

    Most green card categories have yearly quotas and per country quotas. The current system is extremely complicated. So I was wondering if you had any thoughts about that.

  10. 10
    Elizabelle says:

    I really like your bringing up the distribution of immigrants (for non-agricultural work, anyway). I think it’s a problem that (blue state) cities get hit so hard with an immigrant population that needs a lot of services, where dispersing our new residents could help regenerate the areas facing population loss. We are a big country. We are a beautiful country, for the most part, coast to coast. We have a lot of areas that could use an increased population. We should have some say in the matter.

    I was hoping that folks were studying that aspect.

  11. 11
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: It doesn’t? I’ll have to check with the author and see what he says.

    More seriously, I didn’t specifically address it because other than preventing Senator Cotton, Congressman Steve King, and Stephen Miller changing things back to how they were in 1924, legal immigration really isn’t the most pressing immigration issue. How we deal with undocumented immigrants, potential asylees and refugees, fixing the immigration courts, and C&BP and ICE are, from my perspective, far more pressing issues.

  12. 12
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Also needed: An admission that there are several million people living in our country who know no other home, yet have no legal status. People who were brought here as children and who have been educated and have grown up here aren’t going to “self deport” as some imagine. We can’t simply go on pretending they aren’t here.

  13. 13
    A Ghost To Most says:

    I’m good with any policy that includes a complete ban on Russians.

  14. 14
    Millard Filmore says:

    We have an OT! In this comment in the previous thread …
    https://www.balloon-juice.com/2019/01/03/open-thread-let-there-be-joy/#comment-7140794

    And those marriage rights for the gay community may not last beyond an inevitable future SCOTUS challenge…

    One way to mitigate the damage from the Supreme Court … can the House start an FBI investigation into whether Kavanaugh lied in his Senate testimony?

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: Actually that’s what this was (emphasis mine):

    This would also provide the guest worker or workers the ability to move not just themselves, but also their families and dependents who are with them, into a documented status.

  16. 16
    B.B.A. says:

    As conservative “policy” has become all about “owning the libs”, I propose instant citizenship for anyone who sets foot on American soil and has skin darker than a brown paper bag, to own the cons.

  17. 17
    debbie says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    What I’ve heard/read is from people who don’t support Trump’s immigration policy or Wall and who say that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are those who have overstayed and then disappeared.

  18. 18

    @Adam L Silverman: T appointees are making life a living hell for anyone who has to deal with USCIS. What used to be routine extensions, now get denied. The number of RFEs (Request for Evidence) have gone up astronomically and so on.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I understand that, but that’s personnel driving practice, not necessarily something that can be resolved through a policy fix. The solution to this problem is not to elect overt racists as president.

  20. 20
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I really like your bringing up the distribution of immigrants

    I really like your using the possessive before a gerund!

  21. 21
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @A Ghost To Most: will my wife’s hair stylist and my Mercedes repair guy get to stay?

  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Nyet.

  23. 23

    @debbie: I am aware of that talking point. First of all, one needs to delve deeper into the statistics of these p overstays.
    One methodology just counts people who enter on one visa status and leave the country on the same visa status.
    It is possible to change your visa status legally when you are in the United States, it is called adjustment of status.

    Do you know that the most visa overstays are from Canada? And no they don’t all become illegal immigrants either.
    So if some one overstays the date stamped on their visa it does not follow that they are here to stay for good.

  24. 24
    Jay says:

    Thank you Adam, you and many other Jackals remind me daily that some Americans are sane, reality based, compassionate people.

  25. 25
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: дерьмо!

  26. 26
    B.B.A. says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Or for the legislative branch to stop ceding so much power to the executive branch. I know, fat chance of that ever happening, especially when immigration law has always given a great deal of discretion to the front-line officers… but I can dream.

  27. 27
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: And more than willing to become Canadians.

  28. 28
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I’ve about had it with those bastards taking good-paying hockey player jobs away from hardworking Americans. And don’t get me started on poutine!

  29. 29
    Russell says:

    My own thoughts about immigration policy reforms begin with: more visas.

    Not discounting your very articulate thoughts here, just noting that part of the issue is that more folks want to come than we allow.

    Allow more.

  30. 30
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @B.B.A.: One of the major reforms that needs to be made the next time there is a Democratic president with Democratic majorities in Congress is a determined effort to rebalance the balance of powers between Congress and the administration.

  31. 31
    debbie says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I didn’t know that. Thanks.

  32. 32
    Obvious Russian Troll says:

    @Adam L Silverman: My wife and I are originally from the US of A and now live in Toronto. Last year we were doing AirBNB; we had several guests *with green cards* who were looking at Canadian immigration, including one couple who had just landed. So anecdotally at least some immigrants are looking at Canada.

    Edit: nice piece! I hope we can vote in some adults to enact your proposals.

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Russell: I have no problems with that either. I think a guest worker program would resolve some of that. Though a process would have to be created to offramp some of the guest workers onto a naturalization track if they decide they want to stay here permanently.

  34. 34
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    And the courts. Head off these Christianist Talibanis at the pass, so to speak.

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Obvious Russian Troll: If only Canada needed a low intensity warfare specialist…

  36. 36
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Hey, you got an idea bout time for the 15th?

  37. 37
    Doug Gardner says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I was well into adulthood before I – a self-professed grammarian – realized that I had been fucking this up for years. Thank you for (your) noting this correct usage!

  38. 38
    eemom says:

    OT, but holy shit — Jim Webb as possible next SecDef?? Utter insanity. If he does it I will lose the few remaining scraps of respect I have for him out of nostalgia for 2006.

  39. 39
    geg6 says:

    Great piece, Adam. Hopefully, this gets some eyes. I’m going to link it on my FB page.

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @geg6: Thank you.

  41. 41
    FelonyGovt says:

    Thank you for this, Adam. It’s such a pleasure to read your thoughtful and informed opinions, especially with such unthoughtful and uninformed people currently in power.

  42. 42
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    There are other reasons to break agencies like ICE up. As someone who has done inservice training for an ICE field office on how to leverage cultural information to conduct better engagements with the communities that ICE officers have to interact with and police, I can honestly tell you that ICE has its own internal professional cultural problem; it was created out of only semi-related parts as part of the the creation of DHS, and those parts don’t really hang well together. A similar issue exists for Customs and Border Patrol. As a result the best thing we can do is separate these agencies out by their functions, consolidate those, such as customs enforcement, where appropriate, relocate them within more appropriate departmental homes, and then revise recruitment and training requirements.

    Doing all of that will be exceedingly difficult, especially given our current poltical environment. It will be very easy to demagogue those reforms with fear. But they must be done.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Have you thought about sending this to a Dem Member of Congress?

  43. 43
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho: I should be available by 5 pm

    ETA: Adam has my email, as do a few others, and could connect us

  44. 44
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @schrodingers_cat: So many people don’t know about adjustment of visa status, and the sleight of hand it can allow in the reported accounting. I have heard also from people who practice in immigration that the complexities are no longer streamlined, if you will, and once routine extensions are now routine denials, as if there were a policy of making t more difficult to get/keep status in order.

  45. 45
    Gvg says:

    My own vague opinion is that anti immigrant bigots are super persistent in making trouble for any improvements and nice people who don’t worry about foreigners aren’t very attentive to standing up to bigots until things get bad. As a result until Trump and the nutty right got in our faces, the bigots had spent years cutting funding to anything like efficient modern immigration services and processing green cards and the like got further and further behind. Also like prohibition, people are going to come one way or another, and making legal citizenship harder, just leads to more illegal immigration. The conservatives have been influencing a lot of things by cutting taxes. This has been going on IMO for decades before this outbreak.
    Also almost all of us have some anti immigrant weak point, like a tendency to think we should buy American or protect farmers, or American jobs, or don’t exploit immigrant labor.

  46. 46
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Doug Gardner: I am here to serve

  47. 47
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    I am here to serve

    To serve man?

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: My member of Congress is both a Republican and has the intellectual capacity of a turnip. And that’s an insult to turnips. A significant number of his supporters vote for him because they think he’s his dad, with whom he shares a name and who previously held that seat.

  49. 49
    Suzanne says:

    I would like to hear specifically about what we can do to reduce the years-long wait times many potential immigrants face. As far as I am concerned, no one who wants to immigrate should ever wait more than, say, two years. That would be regardless of education level, family sponsorship, country of origin, language spoken, etc.

  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I just sent her your email.

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Suzanne: There are two different issues here. The first is the wait time for regular immigrants, which one would think could be streamlined given 21st century technology. The second is the time it takes to vet refugees trying to come here. That runs, on average, 2 years, and a lot of that time is because it takes that long to run down basic information and records because the refugees who have applied are from places that are, at best, semi-permissive environments.

  52. 52

    @Adam L Silverman: The biggest problem in the legal immigration system is that the green card numbers are capped, and the paths other than for spouses and parents and minor children of citizens are narrow and difficult.

  53. 53
    Yarrow says:

    Is there any good reason we can’t go back to INS?

  54. 54
    Matt says:

    IMO the guest worker program is a non-starter, for much the same reasons that immigration judges should be switched to Article III: a “guest worker registration list” is indistinguishable from an “ethnic cleansing TODO list” in the hands of somebody like Sessions.

  55. 55
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I didn’t say it had to be your member of Congress.

  56. 56
    The Pale Scot says:

    @Steve in the ATL: poutine?
    You mean Disco Fries, right?

  57. 57
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Matt:
    I’m not sure how making immigration judges Article 3 would be a “non-starter.”

  58. 58
    Chris says:

    @debbie:

    How would the people who overstay their visas be handled, or even found?

    They wouldn’t. Treat them the way most cops treat me when I jaywalk in their presence, which is to say, ignore them completely. The net damage to society from their overstaying their visas isn’t enough to justify the resources it would take to find, deport, or otherwise “handle” any of them.

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I am aware. And that all needs to be fixed. But right now we have to get the major bleeders tied off and limbs reattached. And that’s what I think this will do.

  60. 60
    Suzanne says:

    @Adam L Silverman: How much can the process be streamlined for “regular” immigrants? My understanding is that it is a long process not primarily because of technology, but because of arbitrary limits on the number of green cards and work visas.

  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Yes we rented out N’s and S’s rooms.

  62. 62
    Chris says:

    @B.B.A.:

    As conservative “policy” has become all about “owning the libs”, I propose instant citizenship for anyone who sets foot on American soil and has skin darker than a brown paper bag, to own the cons.

    I propose reinstituting the “feet dry” policy for Cubans, only altering a couple of words so that it now applies to all immigrants and not just Cubans. Then when the righties flip a shit, innocently ask them why our country’s only recent experiment in open borders was backed to the hilt by every Republican in the nation.

  63. 63
    Chris says:

    @Matt:

    IMO the guest worker program is a non-starter, for much the same reasons that immigration judges should be switched to Article III: a “guest worker registration list” is indistinguishable from an “ethnic cleansing TODO list” in the hands of somebody like Sessions.

    Yeah, that’s the rub. I was thinking that while reading Adam’s post too.

  64. 64
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Suzanne: The numbers for green cards should be increased. 21st century tech can then be used to streamline the system.

  65. 65
    Mary G says:

    Problem is, even Twitler hires undocumented aliens to work at his golf courses and iron his boxers because they are cheap. He pays them $10 an hour and gets away with it because they are afraid of being deported. If guest workers are legalized, I’m guessing their pay will go up and the rich can’t have that. It’s the same thing with e-Verify. They never make it mandatory, because employers would bitch about their costs going up.

    Another thing that would need to be addressed is the culture of ICE and CBP. Border Patrol have long been uneducated thugs who are too unstable to get into police work at least where I live, and I suspect it’s not just here. Trump has given them full license to act like stormtroopers and they will want to continue doing it. Obama made a few efforts to rein them in with no consequences whatsoever.Their “Council” that appeared with him today seemed less like a union than a gang.

    SC is also right about the byzantine procedures and inefficiencies that throw blocks in the way of people trying to go through the system legally. I have a friend from Norway – red haired with very white skin, Twitler’s ideal – who’s been here since the late 60s. She’s extremely well educated and has plenty of money. She has still had to hire lawyers to help her jump through hoops three or four times when some imbecile has lost paperwork or decided she must be a dirty Commie or whatever. The uncertainty is so stressful. We should make it so that once someone has a green card, they can stay unless they commit certain serious crimes.

    I would love it if Nancy SMASH and this House added to the many laws they will be passing just to set down a marker this term a requirement that someone who’s served honorably in the armed forces and again not a real criminal gets to stay.

  66. 66
    TomatoQueen says:

    I’d rather not move ALJs to Article III just yet, unless it is the only solution to DoJs very low key and very insidious attempt to compromise the hiring of ALJs throughout the gov’t over the summer, turning them essentially from career service to political. Federal News Radio did a short piece on this and then went quiet so there may have been some pushback somewhere or the resignation slowed it down. In any case you’re talking about moving ALJs from Department status to Judiciary, which, considering the sheer number of ALJs in govt as a whole, would be a huge undertaking as Article III is nomination/confirm and I am about done, thank you, with the rubber stamp process we’ve had the last year. ALJs have enormous power, huge caseloads, and are subject matter specialists–in other words an ALJ doesn’t move from Immigration court to SSA hearings and appeals, so I’d rather see an ALJ service, within Judiciary perhaps, as a way of training judges for eventual Article III service (as opposed to the bullshit we have now) if desired/desirable. What I don’t want to see is some of the ALJs whose rulings I’ve read anywhere near a lifetime appointment to the Federal bench, because some of them are bigoted assholes who shouldn’t even be in gov’t service. Discl: I am with SSA dealing with disability cases at the court level, and have been there since 2006 & prior to that I was a deputy clerk (jury & civil) in the Federal courts (5 years).

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Chris: When I originally tried to do this post last week I started on the “We have two types of immigrants: economic and political. The latter are Cuban emigres, the former is just about everyone else. We need to change this and have everyone in the same category.”

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    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: an hour ago I just finished “The Cuban Affair” by the always excellent Nelson DeMille, in which that theme drove the entire novel

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    Chris says:

    @Mary G:

    Another thing that would need to be addressed is the culture of ICE and CBP. Border Patrol have long been uneducated thugs who are too unstable to get into police work at least where I live, and I suspect it’s not just here. Trump has given them full license to act like stormtroopers and they will want to continue doing it. Obama made a few efforts to rein them in with no consequences whatsoever.Their “Council” that appeared with him today seemed less like a union than a gang.

    At the risk of stereotyping, how many people look at themselves in the mirror and go “when I grow up, I want to round up maids and farm workers for a living?” Even most of the people with the cop personality type fantasize about being FBI or Secret Service, not… this.

    So who is ICE going to end up swamped with? 1) the fuckups who couldn’t hack it in a more prestigious agency, and 2) the True Believing racists who genuinely believe that every abuelita they deport Makes America Great Again.

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    ronp says:

    Excellent ideas. I hope they happen.

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    Chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Looooooooool.

    Well, part of the work’s done – IIRC, the “feet dry” policy was ended by the Obama administration when it was going out. Not exactly sure what’s replaced it, though. And in any case my preference was always more “make everyone else like the Cubans” than “make the Cubans like everybody else.”

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    lurker dean says:

    nice post, adam. with regard to legal immigration, the points based “merit” system is a nightmare for anyone who isn’t rich *and* highly educated *and* in possession of a high dollar job offer. it would basically stop immigration from my birth country, the philippines, which relies heavily on money sent back there from relatives working here. i pointed out to my idiot trumper brother that his parents, both college graduates, would not have had enough points to immigrate, which means he wouldn’t be here. the jackass still worships trump.

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    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Four points:
    1) The American Schengen Zone from Canada to Panama. Perhaps something reciprocal between the EU and the United States. Would reduce millions in immigration costs and is more likely to force reforms in that troubled area because when people can come and go, countries have to do things to retain skilled workers and to attract Canadian and US workers and long-term residents.
    2) Article III courts-may have to be confirmed, but the very fact they have to be confirmed means that we could attract a better class of judge.
    3)Civil Rights Law to be integrated into immigration. No discrimination due to race, religion, ethnic origin, gender, sexual identity/orientation, color.
    Emphasis to be on “shall issue” on green cards/citizenship. with the government having to provide reasons for refusal that aren’t for specific reasons, like criminal records, membership in violent/racist groups or other reasons specified by law.

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    Suzanne says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Since we are talking about ideal policy, I agree with others that green cards and citizenship should be “shall issue”…..available to anyone who wants them who isn’t a criminal or gang member or something. How many green cards could we feasibly issue every year?

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    Original Lee says:

    I remember seeing PSAs in the 1960s about how noncitizens needed to mail in a postcard with their current contact information every year. When did that requirement go away? Is it practical to reinstate a modern version of that?

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    Quaker in a Basement says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I see. However, many of those dependents are now grown and on their own. “Family of guest worker” won’t help them now.

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    Just added the following as an update now that it appears the blog is back up and running:

    Now that the site is back up, I want to add three additional proposed policy changes based on being reminded I didn’t explicitly deal with them by several commenters. The first is that cap on legal immigration needs to be raised. People who want to come here to make a better life, become Americans by choice, and contribute to forming a more perfect union should be encouraged to do so, not discouraged by too low caps. Furthermore, once here and seeking citizenship, the process to do so needs to be streamlined and it also needs to be insulated from the type of political manipulation, maladministration, and malfeasance of the current administration. People seeking to become naturalized American citizenship shouldn’t have to live in fear that a bunch of racist nativists will get political appointments solely so they can work out their issues by messing around with people’s lives. Finally, a permanent fix needs to be instituted for the Dreamers so they can move forward with their lives without fear that their entire existences can be upended based on an executive order or a Federal appellate court or Supreme Court ruling.

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    Peale says:

    I’d eliminate permanent status and replace it with a seven year visa that could be renewed 1 time for 5 years. If after 12 years, one still does not wish to become a citizen, then one can return home. I’d eliminate the history test and reduce the application fee for naturalization to $9.99. The five year extension will cost $999.90. Yeah, it’s kind of pushy on my part and it’s greatly political, since if I’m going to spend political capital on unpopular reforms that might get my party booted from office at the mid term, I’d best be creating people who might actually be able to vote.

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    Pogonip says:

    Thanks, Adam! You have some interesting ideas. You mentioned you and your Congresscritter aren’t fond of each other, but maybe you could write to the appropriate committee.

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    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    An immigration attorney friend added:

    “I would add children as qualifying relatives for waiver applications and add age out protections for aged out children as qualifying relatives for cancellation of removal application purposes.

    Right now In court we have to bring back the right of judges to aministratively close cases and terminate as well.

    I would also add a new program through USCIS that would grant lawful status to parents, spouses or children with immediately family members with life threatening medical needs. And fund those medical needs.“

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