There is no denying that we have a massive problem here in the United States with illegal immigration. Sadly, this is an issue that too many of our elected leaders continue to punt the ball on – leaving the problem to fester with no end in sight. Proposed and current laws often pass the responsibility of dealing with the issue of illegal immigrants who commit crimes down on Sheriff’s offices. Sheriffs and law enforcement professionals don’t have the luxury of punting the ball. We have to deal with the issues and find solutions.
I have always enforced immigration laws and have found several solutions to deal with the problem. As a key member of the task force created by Congressmen Cantor, Forbes and Wittman, I suggested a solution to merge the FBI fingerprint and ICE databases, which allowed for instantaneous determination of legal status when an arrestee was processed on their criminal charges. This in turn notified ICE to quickly identify and deal with illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. I also worked with Senator Ryan McDougle and Delegate Rob Bell to pass a Virginia law that enables Sheriff’s offices to overcome the Attorney General’s ruling that ICE detainers were requests to hold - not a legal paper allowing them to be held past their release date. The new law allows ICE to pick up inmates up to five days prior to end of their sentences instead of holding them up to 3 days past their release. This ensured that illegals who have committed crimes don’t slip through the cracks in the system and end up back on our streets.
Experts estimate that the number of illegals currently in our country ranges anywhere from 11.3-17 million. These are just estimates and could quite possibly only be scratching the surface. The call for the rounding up and deportation of every single one of those whom are here illegally just isn’t feasible or logistically possible. In order to deport we must first detain and provide a deportation hearing. To do this would require just as many jail beds as there are illegals – and according to the American Jail Association there are only around 2.3 million beds available between federal, state and local jail systems, which are already over-crowded. The difficulty in identifying who is here illegally has the potential to lead to claims of racial discrimination and civil rights violations. We also would have to figure out what to do with young children and the property of those who would be detained. An American Action Forum study on the costs to carry out mass deportation found that the cost to the taxpayers ranges anywhere from $400 to $600 billion.
This simply won’t work. It is time for real solutions that address the problem, secures our borders, gets those here illegally out of the shadows, removes those who commit crimes, and then find a way to integrate the rest in a manner that upholds the rule of law. To achieve this I am putting forward my detailed immigration plan that has two parts: secure our borders and then institute a probation program for those already here.
Secure our borders
This is the easiest part of my immigration plan. With millions of illegal immigrants crossing our borders every year, coupled with the rise of ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism – we have an obligation to the safety and security of our citizens to secure our borders. This will require us to erect physical barriers along large lengths of our borders and to utilize the newest technology available to detect and prevent illegal entry.
The process for those here already
The United States is one of the most generous nations on this Earth, but we must ensure that those coming here are doing so to chase the opportunities that exist in America and are here to contribute to our communities and society.
Since we do not know the full extent of the problem or the accurate number of those here illegally already – we must find a way to get them to come out of the shadows and into our system. That is why I am proposing a two-year window to self-report and a 5-year probation for those here illegally. Probation is a serious criminal sanction. Any illegal currently in jail or prison for serious offenses will be subject to the deportation process, prior to being released from custody.
This can be accomplished within existing laws, which we must begin to enforce. After the window is closed, we must ensure that employers are held to high standards through which they no longer perpetuate the problem. We must also give the current laws greater opportunity for impact by increasing the punitive measures (such as fines and paying of taxes) for those employers who do not follow them. With these steps having been taken – illegal immigrants will have two choices, leave or enter the program to earn their right to stay in the United States. Upon entering the program, they will undergo the normal criminal processing to include photographing, finger printing, and DNA testing. Criminal records checks will be done as in any other process (both U.S. and international). We must also create a dedicated database aimed at tracking those who enter the program using our newest technologies to integrate current criminal databases and also notify ICE so they can quickly respond and deal with illegal immigration.
To enter into the probation program, they will be required to pay fees, which will go towards the hiring of additional temporary staff to handle the intake process. I am suggesting special federal magistrates be temporarily appointed to handle the proper placing of Illegals in probation. I also believe we could use college students in criminal justice or related fields to provide the part-time staffing to handle the processing. They will be placed on a 5-year probationary status, at which time they will be required to pay fees and back taxes. All those in the program will also be required to obtain and keep gainful employment (either as an individual or family unit). They will be allowed to remain here while they complete the process. The probationers will be issued documentation and identification for their status. At this point they would be given the privileges of those immigrants here on legal status. This will include the issuance of driver’s licenses. During the probationary period, the conviction of a crime will lead to swift deportation, within existing laws.
A database will be created so those on probation can self-report any changes in their required information (i.e. moving, change of employment, etc.). During the probationary period, participants will be required to regularly check in – as would any citizen placed on probation for a nonviolent crime. They will also be required to perform community service. This is a crucial part of the program as it is a way for them to integrate into our communities and gain a sense of ownership and pride in our nation. This can be accomplished by partnering with nonprofits or other charitable organizations that do so much work on behalf of our communities.
Once they have satisfactorily completed the 5-year probationary period, they will be given a permanent legal status and will be able to avail themselves of the regular process afforded to those who have legally immigrated to the United States.
This solution upholds the rule of law, doesn’t give any free passes, and enables us to fix the issue and integrate these individuals (many of whom have already been here for years) into the fabric of our diverse nation. This would also take the burden of dealing with the problem off of our local law enforcement agencies, saving the taxpayers precious resources, and allow for them to live in the United States without fear of deportation.
This is a proposal, which I developed through my experience dealing with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. I believe the solution can be found in the structure of this proposal. This proposal is a simple, commonsense solution to a very complex problem, and one that will pass with bipartisan support.