The USA is and has always been a country of immigrants. However, the current immigration system has been wholly unfair to American workers, American taxpayers, and those who have come here legally. I support comprehensive immigration reform that creates a fair, efficient, and appealing legal immigration system; eliminates the incentive for businesses to hire illegal workers; and secures our nation’s borders:

Step One – Streamline the Legal Immigration System

Most people are unaware that, between fees to drug runners and human smugglers, it now costs between $3,000 and $5,ooo to take a chance at illegally entering the US.   Those who choose the legal path, however, face different and possibly more expensive hardships: wait times, paperwork, and higher costs (a temporary work visa alone can cost over $3,000, with staying here permanently being much more costly.  Figures can be found here and here.)  If we are to encourage legal immigration, we must first establish a simple and efficient legal immigration system that exemplifies the values we share as Americans – hard work and playing by the rules.  To cover the employment shortage that could result from this measure, I would support expediting the issuance of Work Visas to assist industries with perennial issues of filling positions.

While a path to legalizing employment migration needs to be more accessible, the path to full citizenship needs to also be made clear while still preparing the applicant for success in their new country.  Every new applicant should start at the end of the line, but the line should know how to move. Providing advancement through basic background checks, options to clear unpaid tax issues through penalties, and incentives rather than mandates to learn the English language are all options that need to be explored.

Step Two: Eliminate the Incentive to Hire

Illegal immigrants come here for work because businesses will hire them. The fact is, hiring them is profitable: they work for far lower wages and and companies are not on the hook for employment benefits, giving businesses who hire undocumented workers an unfair advantage over those who follow the rules.  When businesses knowingly hire undocumented workers, they are hurting both American employment and immigration policy efforts.  I would support a progressive fine for hiring illegal workers based upon the size of the employer and the number of offenses (including a sanction of jail time for the third offense), as well as the expansion of E-Verify and other reliable means of verifying that employees are here legally.

Step Three: Secure the Border

The current state of Border Security is one of “high demand.”  As it is now, our enforcement resources split their efforts between armed drug smugglers and illegal migrant workers.  Reducing this demand is the key to creating more effective, long-term-manageable and effective solution.  Once our legal immigration system has been fixed, we can more firmly address a secure border.  Timing this correctly also presents an opportunity to provide employment options for military personnel returning from foreign tours of duty to augment or join an increased number of Border Patrol and ICE agents.  I would support strengthening our infrastructure at ports of entry to promote both security and commerce and allowing authorities to better manage lawful travel and commerce.