Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Serious or Not?

I am perplexed as to why we, as legislators in South Carolina, can't seem to really get serious about tough issues - primarily in addressing illegal immigration issues, but while I'm at it, I'll add education finance reform, DUI laws, medicaid reform and the rising cost of higher education. I mean, man......we all talk tough, but when it comes down to passing legislation, well it seems we don't have the fortitude to pass anything with real teeth - instead of legislation that, technically meets the goals, but in reality amounts to little more than political posturing.

I am going to limit this post to illegal immigration - like I haven't written about this before, right!? South Carolinians want, no expect, the Legislature to tackle the problem of the growing population of illegal immigrants in our state. I know that it is a tough issue to solve - heck, I know there isn't a silver bullet. I don't like what I am hearing out of the Senate as they water down the issue surrounding employer verification of legal residence. Here are some of my thoughts:

In the State: South Carolina needs to decide which services we will provide with taxpayer dollars to those people in our state illegally. We need to strongly tell the Feds that they can either fix the illegal immigration problem or quit telling us what we can or cannot do in our state for citizens and non-citizens.

I am adamant about this: Employers who are trying to do things correctly shouldn't be concerned about any law we pass. If they have made a good faith effort to verify residency status of potential or current employees under the current system for such verification and have documentation to that effect, then OK by me. However, the fines/penalties etc. for those employers who do not have proper documentation should be super-duper strong.

My Federal Plan Idea:

First: Secure the Border. We are Americans for the love of Pete!! We can do anything we put our minds to and a secure border should be an easy one for us. Build it, patrol it, hire the people - whatever it takes.

Create a valid "Guest Worker Program." Give all immigrants 120 days to come forward (120 is arbitrary - it could be 90 or 180 days - whatever). If they have an employer sponsor (ie. gainfully employed by an employer who will sponsor them and acknowledge that they have a job) then: 1) get identification/biological data/etc. to properly identify the individual & 2) give them a "Guest Worker Identification" card which is not easily duplicated - similar to the new passports. This would create an id number with which employers can withhold taxes, FICA, etc. If they change jobs, they are required to let INS know the change and the employer they left is required to let INS know they are no longer the employer-sponsor.

After 120 days, any immigrant who is found without this "Guest Worker ID" is immediately deported. No ifs, ands or buts. Zero Tolerance.

Fourth: The "Guest Worker ID" and the corresponding legal status is good for five years. At that time, the immigrant must return to his/her home country. If the employer still agrees to sponsor that employee, then the process is easy for coming back. The person goes to the "front of the line" so to speak, is re-issued a new guest worker id and returns within 30 days or less.

Employers caught hiring workers who do not have the "Guest Worker ID" would be subject to substantial fines and imprisonment.

Guest Workers who choose to seek citizenship while they are here must go through the proper channels to apply and meet all of the requirements for citizenship just like any other person seeking citizenship to this great country. No "easy path to citizenship" nor "amnesty" just for walking across our border.

If we are serious, that is...........