SAN DIEGO -- No matter which political party they hail from, immigration “solutions” usually come in three varieties: half-baked, hateful and hideous.
You’ll find all of the above as Americans from across the fruited plain refuse to let their ignorance about the issue stop them from putting in their 2 cents about how to solve the crisis at hand: wanton separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
People also have lots to say about the bigger issue -- how to secure the border, legalize the undocumented, provide a workforce to do jobs that Americans think are beneath them, etc. Everyone is an engineer, convinced that their plan is best.
A reader asked: “What are your ideas regarding this issue?” Another demanded to know: “TALK IS CHEAP, doesn’t cost a [expletive] thing. What is your fix to ILLEGAL immigration?” Another said: “I would find it helpful to read your thoughts on how to handle the situation at our border.”
I am often asked for my own solution, and I hate it. While it’s true that my vision is clearer than most because I’m not beholden to either political party, my ideas are no more valuable than anyone else’s. Besides, I’m not selling anything. My goal is to get you to think about what you support or oppose.
Sure, I have a 20-point plan to fix our immigration system. Doesn’t everyone? Ideas, we have plenty of.
What we need is honesty. The immigration debate is broken because it is mired in lies -- from the right, left and center. If we don’t talk straight about how we got here, we’ll never create the immigration system that our country deserves.
To get there, Americans will need to:
-- Keep refugee families together and give them hearings even if it ultimately means deporting the entire family unit;
-- Reform legal immigration not by giving a leg up to the skilled and educated but by tying it more closely to labor needs;
-- Limit the family reunification policy to the spouse, children, parents and siblings of a U.S. citizen;
-- Resist nativist attempts to cut legal immigration and instead increase it from about 1 million annually to 3 million -- which is still less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population;
-- Apply asylum laws equally so that brown-skinned refugees from Honduras have the same shot as light-skinned refugees from Syria;
-- Secure the border not with a 12th-century wall but with cutting-edge surveillance equipment, tunnel detection and improved roads;
-- Deploy National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border sparingly, and only to support Border Patrol agents;
-- Continue to deport those in the country illegally but preserve discretion to allow some of the undocumented to stay;
-- Create a path to earned legal status (not U.S. citizenship) for illegal immigrants who have lived here for at least 10 years and pass background checks;
-- Give permanent legal status to the estimated 700,000 recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in exchange for one year of community service;
-- Ban benefits for legalized immigrants and their children (no welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc.);
-- Allow the legalized to become U.S. citizens, as long as they put in the effort and the process isn’t automatic;
-- Scrap unlawful quotas that require immigration agents to deport about 400,000 illegal immigrants annually;
-- Stop counterproductive efforts to deputize local police to enforce federal immigration law;
-- Create a tamper-proof identification card for all Americans to carry so employers know who is eligible to work;
-- Eliminate the exemption in E-Verify that applies to the No. 1 employer of illegal immigrants: the American household;
-- Repair the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which bars employers from “knowingly” hiring illegal immigrants, by removing the word “knowingly”;
-- Create a “three strikes” law for employers of illegal immigrants: First offense, a warning; second, a $10,000 fine; third, five days in jail;
-- Invest in Mexican states that send immigrants by using tax incentives to encourage U.S. companies to create jobs there so fewer people come here;
-- Parent better by giving our kids chores, requiring after-school and summer jobs, and creating a work ethic so they take jobs from illegal immigrants.
You’ll note that much of this involves Americans owning up to what they did -- or didn’t do -- that got us into this mess instead of simply blaming immigrants. Which gets us back to where any sensible and realistic stab at immigration reform must begin: honesty.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is email@example.com. His daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation,” is available through every podcast app.