If there is not much debate or disagreement about immigration facts, there is equally little debate about immigration policy. Yes, there is fulmination on talk radio. But in the halls of power, everybody from Sen. Ted Kennedy to Sen. John McCain tacitly or explicitly agrees that the situation cannot be fixed and thus the only thing to do is continue on our current path. It’s really very striking that the Center for American Progress’ “progressive” immigration plan matches almost exactly the “compassionate conservative” approach advanced by President George W. Bush in 2001, 2005, and 2006: Both include a guest worker program, an amnesty in all but name, and a promise of better future enforcement of immigration laws and labor standards.
It is as if nobody can imagine an alternative to McCain-Kennedy-Bush-Podesta. Well I can. Imagine this:
We should require all employers of any business of any appreciable size to use the government’s new and effective E-Verify program to check the work status of employees.
We should institute aggressive fines for employment of illegals. The maximum fine for even multiple violations of hiring illegal aliens was raised in 2008 to $16,000. By contrast, violations of the Clean Water Act can be fined up to $125,000 per offense per day. Plus, in immigration cases the government must prove the offender “knowingly” violated the law, generally an impossible standard. With environmental laws, by contrast, offenders are strictly liable: if you pollute, you pay, even if you say you had no idea the sewage was leaking. It’s your job to know — and so it should be with immigration laws.
Then beyond that — do nothing.