Creating Thresholds for Immigrants

The comments to The Oppenheimer Report on Latin America upset me, even
though I haven’t been resident in the United State for more than a
decade. Since no one’s asked me for my opinion, I’ll freely hand it out here:

The U.S.should give Mexican immigrants favored status. They are us, and we are them. And
let’s face it: most of the Mexican immigrants are going to have a rough time
meeting the merit-based criteria. Not only are they not possessed of doctoral
degrees, an overwhelming majority haven’t finished, much less started, high
school. But they have valuable contributions to make. And steps must be taken
to integrate them into Estadounidense culture and society, making them value
their admission to that country:

  1. Each immigrant would pay $3,500 USD. That’s just a tad over a coyote’s going rate.
  1. All  immigrants under the age of eighteen years who have not completed secundaria will make a good faith  effort toward attaining a G.E.D. (Secundaria
      is the Mexican equivalent of junior high school, but for many in this  country, it’s the terminus of their formal education. And completing secundaria in Mexico is roughly equivalent to a G.E.D. in the U.S.)
  1. All
      immigrants under the age of forty will be enrolled in a public service program, something like the National Guard or military reserves, contributing two weeks each year and a weekend each month for a period of two years. (Join the military, and you’ll get some extra points upon successfully completely a tour of duty, just like in the old days.)
  1. All  immigrants who cannot demonstrate an understanding of basic English will
    learn English.
  1. And  the final step will be learning civics. Yes, the good old-fashioned kind of classes and examination my dad took when he became an American citizen in the 1950’s.

We’re not talking about a particularly high threshold here. There
will be some would-be immigrants who’ll claim any threshold just isn’t fair,
who won’t want to put in the effort, and who would probably cry about their
loss of civil liberties, but that’s going to happen anywhere.

Legislation is like sausage: what goes in seldom resembles
the final product. It’s not something any reasonable person should watch being
made. And interesting little bits often sneak themselves in. I know: I managed
to sneak a change to a state divorce statute, a single word or phrase that I
thought was important at the time, to a bill something totally unrelated,
probably something concerning frozen pork bellies, back in the 80’s. It never
reached debate, and no one caught on until long after the bill was signed and
went into effect.

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