ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Advanced search

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network


Chinese Immig. Daily


Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free

Immigration LLC.

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

A Very Modest Proposal

by Eugene Goldstein

A specter is haunting America- it is the specter of immigration. Recent years have seen a highly politicized ideologically charged debate about legal and illegal immigration in the United States. Under a Republican and conservative Congress and administration, legal and illegal immigration has been seen both as a threat to, and an abuse of, our systems of orderly immigration and legal employment. The 2007 Congressional election results have moved the immigration debate into a somewhat less conservative and Democratic mode. Congress is now looking at our recent immigration concerns as less an issue of punishment, security, and employment regulation, and more a matter of fixing a broken legal immigration system and providing various new and workable paths to legality, permanent residence, and citizenship.

The STRIVE Act, introduced in the House of Representatives in April is, in many ways, very similar to S.2611, the Senate bill which was passed last term by the Senate. STRIVE seeks a politically acceptable approach for illegal immigration prevention, punishment of illegal entrants, enforcement of already existing employment sanctions, and the development of stronger and more expensive sanctions, balanced with various forms of immigration benefits including earned legalization, guest-worker status, and other means to end outcast status for millions of people now illegally present in the United States.

But, is the balanced approach in the Act based upon an incorrect assumption? If the illegal population is permitted to become legal, and workable future paths for legal immigration become available, will a complex and expensive system of prevention, enforcement and employer sanctions be just another example of big, but unnecessary government. If a viable guest worker provision is in place, it reasonably can be expected that the illegal flow will vastly diminish, if not entirely stop. If workable and practical methods are available to legalize the "illegals", is increased enforcement of existing laws and the enactment of new restrictive laws needed. If illegal workers can legalize, is a new, more complex and expensive employer sanctions scheme necessary? It could even be suggested that if all of the enforcement provisions of the STRIVE Act were implemented, we would have a full employment economy, as all of the unemployed would be working for the government, and there would be a shortage of U.S. workers for newly legalized aliens to fill. Therefore, with no illegals, these expanded bureaucracies would have no one against whom to enforce the new laws.

Is the STRIVE Act's balanced approach a political compromise that is simply unnecessary if the positive provisions of legalization, Agjobs, and the DREAM Act are effective?

For several years, enforcement proponents have argued that illegals should get on line to become legal. For an equal period of time, legalization proponents have argued that there are few or no places in the system for the unskilled or lower skilled immigrant. The EW3 category provides for only 10,000 green card places each year. It has, thus, been argued that this scarcity of legal places is a major cause of the illegal population. If there were sufficient places, the illegal flow would stop.

We should ask why should there now be a new complex, expensive and burdensome government bureaucracy and enforcement effort if we can cure the problem by permitting immigrants to come into our system legally, instead of artificially keeping them out.

The STRIVE Act may be an attempt to address our broken immigration system in a balanced way- but if positive reforms work, it will merely create an increased government bureaucracy with little to do and with little purpose.

Perhaps it's time to rethink our approach to enforcement.

(Thanks for some of the phrases in this essay go to Jonathan Swift, and Karl Marx)

About The Author

Eugene Goldstein is a 35+ year practitioner of immigration law with an office in NYC. He is a graduate of CCNY and the law school of Washington University in St. Louis. He is a member of AILA and of NAFSA- Association of International Educators, and a recipient of the NAFSA Region 10 James O'Driscoll Award for outstanding service and leadership; the Community Leadership Award from the Council of International Student Advisors of the City University of New York; and most recently of the Anti-Defamation League's "Generations of Justice Award" for his long commitment to equal justice and fair treatment. He holds adjunct status with The City University of New York, and is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council of the Division of Humanities and the Arts at CCNY. He is the author of several papers on immigration law topics and is a frequent speaker on immigration topics on college and university campuses in the NYC tristate area.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.