Yesterday, the federal government fired its starter’s pistol and began the race for the coveted and relatively rare H-1B visa. This year, our government will allow 85,000 people to work in the United States on these visas. Last year, if you waited longer than 2 1/2 months to apply one, you were out of luck. If your business needed a worker you could have hired if our government didn’t have such a silly quota system, you were likewise out of luck. The Chamber of Commerce wants a much larger number of visas available, which would rely on more government meddling.
I’ve been thinking a lot about our immigration system lately, mostly because Republicans in Congress are about to commit several acts of political stupidity. They hope to finally solve the Washington-created puzzle called “comprehensive immigration reform” in a way that brings more Hispanics to their Republican yard.
I’m no politician, as you may have noticed. If I were, I’d be lousy at it. My first “Gang of Eight, Plus Jimmie” meeting would end with me calling Lindsey Graham a vote-whoring waste of a public employee salary. However, if you put me in charge of our immigration system, I’d give this speech after a year.
Good morning, new immigrants and everyone who wants to come to the United States. We’re glad you want to be a part of the greatest nation on the face of the planet. We have just a few things you’ll need to know.
First, you’ll notice you got in pretty quickly. It used to take years for a new immigrant to enter the country legally, but we fixed that. It cost a good bit of money, we had to fire a bunch of incompetent employees and hire a whole lot more, but we believe we’re ready to get you into our country quickly and efficiently. We apologize to those of you who had to wait far longer than you should have to get here. You gave us your respect and we treated it like garbage. For that we are deeply sorry. We’re thankful you chose to honor our law unlike the several million who broke in to our country and stole what did not belong to them. Though we can’t make up for the lost years, we hope that the refund of the money we demanded from you and a waiver of the processing fee will make up for some of the inconvenience.
We have two flavors of immigration: those who want to become Americans and those who want to work here a while then go back home. We’ve done away with different visas for different workers, quota systems, hidden fees, shady regulations, and bureaucrats who spend more time tormenting you than handling your application. The new system is based on the free marker. If we need more immigrants, we’ll take all who want to come. If our economy goes stale, there won’t be much room for you to find gainful employment and you won’t come here, or if you do, you won’t stay here long.
Let me give you the basic rules.
- If you think you can sneak across our border and stay here as long as you like, think again. We’ll give you an incredible amount of freedom so long as you work within the system, but we won’t tolerate thieves and rule-breakers. We take our rules seriously. We spent quite a lot of money to hire the very best Border Patrol agents in the world and we’ve given them the best tools and a justice system designed to stop you from stealing from our citizens and those immigrants who obey our simple rules. Chances are, you won’t get past them. When they catch you, they will send you back home immediately and you will never be allowed to come here legally again. You get no appeal, no second chance. If by some quirk of fate you do get past them, we will find you. You won’t be able to get a job because American companies fear the Hammer of God we will use on them if they hire an illegal immigrant. Without a job, you’ll have to live in the shadows but they won’t hide you. We have people who know all the tricks and hiding places. Some of them used to be immigrants just like you. We will find you. When we do, we will send you home. Period. You will never come back again.
- If you’re convicted of a felony while you’re here, you go home. No appeal. No whining. No absconding. We take you from the courtroom to an airplane and you’re gone. We’ll help arrange to get your belongings home after you’re back, so don’t worry about them.
- You get no federal welfare of any kind. Zero. Not a penny. If the state where you live wants to make you eligible for welfare, that’s on them. You may think that cruel, but citizenship has its benefits. The government safety net is one of them.
- You have to learn English. It is our common language and we expect everyone to use it at a basic level of proficiency. We’re not saying you can’t use your native language; in fact, we think it’d be good if you helped your co-workers and neighbors learn your language as the opportunities arise. America is a melting pot, which means you blend. We all blend. It’s one of the things that makes us a great place to live. But America’s main language is English and you have to learn it along with the rest of us.
- And speaking of things that make America a great place to live, we’re also going to ask that you abide by our Constitution. We have a number of freedoms here which we will extend to you while you are here, but you don’t get to pick and choose. That means no enclaves where you set up a law above our law. No getting all shaky-kneed if someone says something bad about your country, your God, or your Mama (though if someone bad-mouths your Mama, you’re allowed to punch them in the mouth. That’s an American thing, too. We won’t hold that against you).
- Last thing. While you’re here, we ask that you keep your address current with us. You can do that in person, by mail (or UPS or FedEx. We apologize for the unreliable nature of our postal service. Hey, maybe you can stick around and help us fix it!), or electronically. We will check intermittently to make sure you live where you say you live and you’ve been keeping your nose clean. The checks won’t be onerous or capricious. We’ll give you fair warning before we check on you by mail, e-mail, or text message so you can make sure your information is current. If we have to come looking for you, we’re not going to be happy, and the new people we hired to find you are very, very good. As I said before, some of them used to be immigrants themselves. They know the community and all the tricks. Please trust us.
Easy-peasy. Now lets get into the two types of visas we have: work and residency. They are virtually the same except how they end. A work visa ends with your returning to your home country on or before the expiration date. The residency visa ends with United States citizenship.
Two notes here. First, for those of you on a work visa. We don’t mind if you come here to enjoy the benefits of the greatest economic system the world has ever known. We hope you take what you learn here about capitalism, charity, free markets, and our Constitution and spread them around your home countries. If you like, open a franchise there. We can put you in contact with a couple helpful American companies who can make your entrepreneurial dreams come true in your homeland.
Also, you have to keep your employment information current with us just like you do your other contact information. We understand that sometimes jobs come and go, but if you’re here on a work visa, you need to be working or looking for work. That might mean you have to take a minimum wage job for a while. It’s hard, but we’ve all had to do it. If you can’t find a job and money is tight, let us know. At worst, we’ll send you home but if you come to us voluntarily and you have to go home, no sweat. You can come back if the situation gets better. No harm, no foul.
Second, if you’re here on a residency visa, you don’t have to keep your employment information current. We do need to know how to find you, but if you had a fortune back home and you want to spend your time lounging around or seeing the sights or researching a novel, help yourself. What you do while you’re here is pretty much your business (consistent, of course, with the basic rules). We prefer if you get a job, join a church and maybe a neighborhood group or two, volunteer somewhere, and get a head start on becoming an American before you take the Oath, though. Take your place in the melting pot early. Start today. Be a good citizen before you’re actually a citizen. Remember, though, that you’re not eligible for federal welfare assistance, so keep that in mind.
We realize this means we have the most liberal immigration system in the world. We’re okay with that. We think America is awesome and we want as many people to be a part of this wonderful experiment in liberty as possible. If you think you can make a go of it here, come on. If you’re already pursuing your dream, well, welcome to America. We’re glad you’re here.
Of course, there are a few details to be worked out. The free market will act as a natural control valve for how many immigrants want to enter the country, but for many immigrants, a minimum wage job is a tidy sum compared to what they could earn at home. We’d have to tighten up the inspection process to make sure the immigrants who are here are working and not living on the streets (since we’re not horrible people and we don’t want an entire underclass of people who come here for minimum wage, live in boxes, and send what they earn home). Those standards shouldn’t be tough to write if the rest of the system is open and transparent.