The 7 Best Ways to Solve the Problem of Illegal Immigration
President Trump promised he would stop illegal immigration. So far, he’s done a good job: border crossings are down (way down), and deportations are up (way up). ICE now has teeth and is doing its job.
This is all good news.
But at this point there’s not a whole lot more Trump can do without Congress’ cooperation—it’s up to the GOP to pass substantive legislation and allocate funding for the bigger projects (like the border wall).
This is bad news.
Congress is incompetent, corrupt, and lazy. If there’s no fire under their ass, nothing will get done—and even if they somehow find the energy, they’ll probably do a bad job. Just think of how royally they botched Obamacare (it didn’t have to be that bad).
That’s why we, the people, need to do the thinking for them. Here’s how we solve the problem of illegal immigration.
But first, for those who are still on the fence regarding this issue, I’ve provided a brief rundown as to why illegal immigration is bad for America.
Why Do We Need to Stop Illegal Immigration?
Illegal immigration is a big problem for America—politically, social, and economically. We need to fix it.
The political effects are damning enough to warrant finding a solution to illegal immigration. Why? Because the fight over what to do with illegal aliens is divisive. It’s a wedge issue. This is bad for America’s democracy.
And of course, there’s the perennial issue of illegal voting.
Illegal immigration causes social problems as well: polls show that more-and-more Americans are starting to feel like “strangers in their own land.” Illegal aliens are changing our neighborhoods and cities, our entire culture, dramatically—and we don’t even get a vote. It’s just happening.
Crime is also a persistent social issue. Facts are facts: illegal immigrants are responsible for an appalling numbers of crimes against American citizens every year, many of which are drug crimes. In fact, some 75% of all federal drug possession charges were laid on illegal aliens.
Finally, illegal immigration is hurting the economy. It’s making us poor.
Not only do illegals eat up hundreds of billions in tax dollars every year, but they hurt American workers by undercutting their wages. The below graphic illustrates some of the biggest costs.
Of course, there are many other reasons why we need to stop illegal immigration into America, but this gives you some context.
Now let’s get into the good stuff: how do we solve the problem of illegal immigration?
1. Stop Hiring Illegal Aliens—Punish Employers
Economics isn’t really about money, it’s about choice: why do people buy what they buy and do what they do? Specifically, what motivates them? What are the incentives disincentives that frame said choices?
If we look at the problem of illegal immigration from an economic standpoint, and explore the underlying choice-architecture, it becomes clear that our own domestic policies are mostly to blame—illegal immigrants are behaving entirely rationally given the incentives we’ve created.
Basically, aliens want jobs, Americans hire them. It’s that simple.
For example, it’s estimated that roughly half of all construction workers in Texas are illegal aliens. More broadly, some 9% of all workers in America’s hospitality industry are aliens, and up to 16% of agricultural workers, according to Pew Research. And this is just the low-end jobs.
Remember, some 40% of all illegal aliens are actually visa-overstays, many of whom are employed in Silicon Valley, slaving away for Google and Microsoft.
The prospect of employment creates a powerful incentive for people from relatively poor countries, like the Philippines or India, to come to America and work—even though the jobs are often bottom-end here, they’re far better than conditions back home.
And like I said, many work for relatively large corporations—from big hotel chains, to grocery stores, to technology companies. There’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it comes to someone’s immigration status.
So how do we fix it? We need to remove the incentive to come to America in the first place. That is, we need to crack down on the employers—hire an illegal and risk a large fine, jail time, dissolution of your corporation etc. Whichever makes most sense depending upon the situation.
Until we remove the work-incentive, illegal immigration is going to continue, no matter how strictly we patrol the border.
2. Cut Off Welfare: Don’t Let Illegal Immigrants Collect State Benefits
Work is one major lure, welfare is another—the more generous, the bigger the lure.
Right now, illegal aliens are able to claim a host of government benefits ranging from subsidized housing, to emergency medical care, to public education.
You have to remember, many illegal immigrants are arriving from relatively poor countries with undeveloped social infrastructure—having your children educated in American schools is a good deal for most people in places like Nicaragua. From their perspective, illegally immigrating is a rational choice.
If we cracked down on employment prospects, in addition to welfare abuse, then there would be little incentive left for most illegal aliens to remain in America. I have a feeling that, faced with this situation, most would self-deport.
3. Build The Wall, Make Mexico Pay for It
Even if we cracked down on employers and reduced the availability of welfare, there would still be many who slip through the cracks—and yet others would still want to enter America for criminal purposes.
This is why we need a wall.
Not only would the wall be an effective deterrent, and a powerful symbol, it would be permanent—the next administration could reduce funding for ICE, but it is very unlikely that they would destroy the wall.
The best part? The wall would be cheap, and it would work.
And don’t give me some tripe about it being difficult to build: “there are rivers and mountains in the way!” That didn’t stop the Chinese from building their Great Wall by hand, and it wouldn’t stop us from building it with the marvels of modern technology.
And the icing on the cake? Getting Mexico to pay for it.
4. 40% of Illegal Immigrants are Visa-Overstays: We Need to Track Them
The wall is important, but perhaps more important is the cyber-wall: a way to track people entering the country through legal channels to make sure they actually leave when their visa is expired.
Like I said, some 40% of all illegal aliens are in America because they overstayed their visa.
President Trump has taken action to fix this: beginning next year the Department of Homeland Security will roll out visa-overstay tracking software to deal with this problem.
5. Crack Down on Sanctuary Cities: Enforce the Law
President Trump is already doing this, so no problems here. From one of my previous articles:
Under President Trump, ICE was instructed to increase its cooperation with local law enforcement so that it could better find illegal aliens who have committed crimes. They did that, and they did a good job. In fact, ICE now has official cooperation agreements with 59 law enforcement agencies (known as ‘287(g) agreements‘) in 18 states.
In addition to this, ICE is in the process of partnering up with many more jurisdictions.
The wrench in the machine are so-called ‘sanctuary cities‘, which are municipalities (or other local jurisdictions) that refuse to cooperate with ICE agents. Basically, they protect criminal illegal aliens from deportation. Why? Who knows. One would assume that any rational person would want criminals who are in the country illegally deported, rather than being released back into the community.
But, in defiance of all logic and reason, sanctuary cities exist.
To deal with these rebellious enclaves, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that federal funding for sanctuary cities will be cut if they refuse to comply with federal immigration law. Specifically, sanctuary cities could be denied their Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants, or JAG grants.
Beyond funding, Sessions is also threatening to charge recalcitrant mayors and city officials with human smuggling.
6. Make ICE Great Again: Hire More Border Guards
President Trump has made good headway on this point.
For example, he has given the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Enforcement (ICE) agents a new mandate: find and deport illegal immigrants, particularly those who pose a risk to American citizens (criminals).
Basically, President Trump gave ICE teeth, and a longer leash.
ICE is getting results: arrests for immigration-related offences are up by nearly 40 percent. Furthermore, ICE has increased its issuance of detainers by 75% (when they request local law enforcement to hold individuals in their custody so ICE can get them), and increased the number of people it places in removal proceedings by 47%.
Oh, and illegal border crossings are down by 70%—we can’t forget to mention that. Why? Because people are scared of being deported. This is just commons sense.
7. Pay them to leave
This last point may sound counter-intuitive, but it is worth trying as a last resort (and only as a last resort): we could pay illegals to self-deport—pay them once, if they try to double-dip, then we met out harsh punishments.
Remember, deporting someone is quite expensive. It is much more cost-effective for people to simply remove themselves. By paying someone, say $5,000 or $10,000 to leave America, we could save a ton (relative to getting ICE involved).
This may not sound like much, but it is a decent sum to someone from a Third World country.
The benefits of this would be that it would be cheap and humane—but it’s not without downsides. Paying people to leave could create a new incentive to play red rover with the border patrol. Furthermore, it would burn valuable political capital.
But if nothing else works, we could give it a try—like I said, this is a last resort option.
That’s How We Solve the Problem of Illegal Immigration
Solving the problem of illegal immigration really boils down to common sense: no jobs, no welfare, no illegal immigrants.
And for the drug traffickers and other criminals, we have ICE. We have a wall.
If we really want to stop illegal immigration we need a multi-faceted approach that embraces both the iron fist and the velvet glove.
I think President Trump’s on the right path, but he’s done about as much as he can. It’s up to Congress to finish the job—hopefully they follow through.