Opinion: A Compromise Democrats Might Accept in Exchange For a Wall
Here we are weeks into a partial government shutdown and as I write this all indications are both sides are at a hopeless impasse. Nancy Pelosi has called a wall immoral. Donald Trump says he won't accept a plan that doesn't include one. Chuck Schumer who once supports a few hundred miles worth of a wall won't sign off on a full one. Federal workers are furloughed and many are still working but without pay. People are hurting. Families are hurting. We're getting nowhere.
Will anything end this?
Call it my own naivete, but here's something I think could. We have tens of millions of illegal immigrants (or should I be politically correct and call them undocumented or unauthorized?) living in our country, many for a long, long time. We've heard the mantra of "they're here anyway" from those who oppose mass deportations. Indeed, mass deportations would be a logistical nightmare at this point in the game not to mention costly. This is one reason why the Trump administration has been largely focused on the deportation of those with criminal records rather than all illegals.
One thing that's occasionally come up on our show in talking about these issues is many citizens would accept granting citizenship to illegals who would be willing to step up and serve some time in our military. This got me thinking. Defending our nation is not the only way one can serve our country.
Would Democrats accept a mass amnesty program for every single illegal immigrant already here who is otherwise law-abiding by requiring them each serve 1,000 hours of community service? Unpaid, of course. The idea has been floated in the past that fines would have to be included in any sort of path to citizenship. Illegals are often mired in poverty and might not get straight with the law because the prospect of thousands of dollars in fines is too daunting. Time and hard work is different. Could unpaid, verifiable and real community service to prove your dedication to our country be a way to offer citizenship to those already here illegally? Government mailrooms. Municipal lawn care. School lunchrooms. Construction labor.
Think about New Jersey alone. Estimates say we have about 500,000 illegals living here. That's one out of every eighteen residents. If each adult able to provide a service committed to 1,000 hours, how much could that save Garden State taxpayers? For argument's sake let's take out children, the very elderly and the disabled among them. Even if it were as low as 300,000 performing 1,000 hours each, that's 300 million hours. At $10 an hour we would otherwise be paying, that's a savings of 3 billion dollars. That's just in New Jersey.
Of course, this would only be offered to people who were not in violation of any other law. They would be given twelve months to apply and begin their service. At 10 hours a week it could take a couple years for them to complete their required service, and they'd have to pay taxes and comply with all rules and responsibilities of citizenship. In exchange, the border wall is built and from that point on an absolute zero tolerance policy is enacted regarding illegal entry in our nation. It might seem like capitulation to some, but the nature of compromise is neither side gets everything they want. If Democrats turned down a path to citizenship for millions of illegals in exchange for free public service amounting to a fiscal savings that would pay for the wall itself, they'd be crazy. A hard no to such a plan would expose their anti-Trump motive.
Like I said, you can call me naive. I realize I'm not offering anything genius or new; things like this have been talked about before. But something like this needs to be talked about right here and right now.