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Ben Franklin's bifocals April 17, 2006

William's Immigration Proposal

The Great Wall of China

Relying on a proven technique, our political leaders have used the widespread post-9-11 fears and the terrorist hysteria of the general public to create yet another artificial crisis. The demonstrated porousness of the US borders has politicians falling all over one another in the attempt to appear stronger than the next one on the issue of protecting the homeland from terrorists, immigrants, illegal aliens, legal aliens, extraterrestrials, brown people, and other undesirables. In all the rhetoric and emotion of the manufactured security crisis over illegal immigrants, we seem to have forgotten that virtually all the 9-11 terrorists were able to enter this country legally, and take advantage of our excellent flying schools to learn enough skills to crash airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and, but for some brave patriots, the White House or US Capitol.

Undoubtedly the United States has a problem with the way it deals with the millions of immigrants who have come to this country in the past several decades. This is not a new crisis. The problem has grown steadily for a number of years until we have amongst us an estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented aliens constituting a shadow workforce of epic proportion. We actually do need to do something about this disenfanchised subgroup so that these people do not continue to be exploited by the entrepreneurs both large and small who prey upon them. We need to weed out from this large population those few deviants who commit criminal acts and those who contribute nothing to our generous nation, and we should send them back home. We must find a reasonable way to integrate the remainder, who are decent, hard-working, taxpaying folk, into our diverse American society.

The first thing that we should accept in dealing with the problem of undocumented aliens is that there is no longer any practical way to secure the borders of this nation (or any other). The concept of secure national borders and frontiers has been dying a slow death over the last century. In an era of multinational corporations, global economies, and widely available, affordable travel, even a country the size of Monaco would have a devil of the time keeping track of every visitor. If it put all its citizens to work in the customs, border patrol, and immigration departments there wouldn't be enough native people left over to staff the casinos. The idea that we can make the United States of America safe by fencing off Mexico is ludicrous. Throw in the 4,000 mile-long Canadian border, (which has already been penetrated by terrorists), and you would have to draft every able-bodied male and female in the country to build and staff Fortress America. That would leave no one to monitor the thousands of ships and aircraft that enter our ports and airports daily, filled with passengers and cargo.

Since the idea of border security is a demonstrably failed concept, we need to openly and honestly acknowledge that fact. The United States of America, traditionally a haven for immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity, should be the first nation on this planet to declare all visitors welcome here, and officially open its borders. This action might signal the return trip of my country to the moral high ground which has been abandoned by the Bush administration. It would also allow us to redirect our resources and energies into a solution of the real problem: identifying and keeping track of visitors to our country so that we can keep order, deal with the terrorist threat, and enforce our laws.

We have the technology to create a working database and security system to identify and track all individuals who enter or leave the country. On the first entry or exit, whether on a temporary tourist visa, a student visa of longer duration, for a business purpose, a vacation, or any other reason, each individual who passes through any portal of entry to the United States of America will be inconvenienced long enough to be identified, photographed, undergo a retinal scan, produce a DNA sample, be fingerprinted, and be issued a photo ID card with an encrypted stripe and barcoded identity symbol. At this initial screening point, suspicious individuals will be subjected to a more detailed interrogation.

A word about racial and ethnic profiling is in order. One should recognize at the onset that profiling and differential handling of visitors is a legitimate and necessary tool of law enforcement. There is a difference between treating US citizens of a particular ethnic or racial minority unequally in violation of our Constitutional guarantees, and using intelligent discriminatory tactics to focus more attention on a young man from Saudi Arabia than on a 83-year-old Grandma from Wichita in a wheelchair.

United States citizens will not be required to carry identification cards. However, upon applying for a driver's license, a passport, a Social Security card, or a government benefit, they will be issued permanent identification. This instrument will have a photograph of the individual, the Social Security number (if any), the date of birth, a barcode, and a magnetic encoded strip with additional optional information. Citizens with health problems may elect to have their current medications and medical history encoded so that if they are incapacitated a first responder will be able to retrieve that information immediately. Participation in the identification system will be entirely voluntary for US citizens provided that they do not operate a motor vehicle on the public highway, seek public employment, wish to participate in the Social Security system, seek to obtain other government-funded benefits, or need to gain entry to the country when returning from foreign travel.

Any individual, whether citizen or visitor, upon being arrested by a law enforcement officer will also be subjected to the entire DNA sampling and other identification processes described above. This information will be immediately entered into the national identification database, however any citizen upon establishing a lack of prosecution or lack of conviction can apply to have the information purged. Every citizen who wishes to remain anonymous should have the right to opt out.

William's Whimsical Words:

Of course, we could in the alternative round up all the Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, Blacks, Browns, Yellows, and other undesirables, force them to wear distinctive symbols on their garments, tattoo permanent identification markings on their forearms, and send them in cattle cars to concentration camps to be murdered. This is not only a simpler and more cost effective method, but has the additional benefit of creating a permanent solution to the problem of preserving the purity of a White Christian nation.

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