Immigration is heating up again as a political issue with the second term president and others discussing possible answers to the low level chaos which currently characterizes the movement of workers between Mexico and the United States. The basic outlines of plans to address the problem shift to fit familiar lines of argument. I would like to suggest a novel approach.
To state the matter very succinctly, we should deal with immigration in the context of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA provided for the free movement of goods across the border. The best way to handle the immigration problem is to provide for the free movement of workers across the border, as well. We could accomplish this goal by negotiating a worker addendum to the agreement in existence.
How would it operate? Citizens from the countries involved in the agreement would be free to enter the member states to work. All they would need to do is to register as a foreign worker, obtain a proxy for a social security number which would allow for simple payment of taxes, and find employment.
This solution would simplify matters significantly. Workers would not need amnesty as they would not be in the country illegally. They would not need to fear reporting crimes or traffic accidents because they need not fear deportation. American states could provide things like driver’s licenses without fear of creating some presumption of citizenship.
There would still be the matter of children of registered workers being born in the United States with birthright citizenship. However, those children would no longer be tied to parents living in the United States in a quasi-criminal, illegitimate way.
Rather than giving amnesty to the many illegals in the United States today and setting yet another bad precedent to encourage future law breaking, we can offer current illegals a simple path to living legitimately in the U.S. as a NAFTA registered worker. Capital moves freely. Goods move freely. Why not let the workers move freely? We can protect the value of American citizenship, while simultaneously ending the problem of having a large population of illegals within our borders.