I was rereading my earlier post on how immigration reform doesn’t require amnesty, and had a few more thoughts.
I had written that immigration of low-skilled workers could be based on employment, just like it is for highly skilled workers. But in addition, we need to recognize that in the long term, immigration should depend on other factors as well, and should allow periods of unemployment because these are understandable.
Once immigrant workers had shown two or three years of steady employment, they could graduate to a longer-term status based on other criteria in addition to continued employment (with reasonable periods of unemployment) indicating integration with society, including fluency in English, crime-free living, and community involvement. This is essentially what a green card is, and perhaps it should simply be a green card under the same rules as that program.
It also seems important to say that dependents should be able to qualify for immigration status based on the worker, perhaps after a waiting period of six months.
If we look at a timeline then, we see the following:
-6 months (six months before start of legal status): Worker applies for visa
0 months: Worker obtains visa and begins to work and live legally
+6 months: Worker has right to bring dependents into country (or legalize ones already here) under their visa
+2 years: Worker can apply for longer-term visa that allows periods of unemployment, but must qualify by showing proficiency in English, community ties, and no criminal record.
+6 or 8 years: Worker and dependents eligible to apply for citizenship.
The next thing I’d like to investigate is how immigration reaches an equilibrium. As discussed in the previous post, the level of illegal residents depends on the combination of how hard it is to become legal, and how hard it is to catch illegals. Right now, it’s incredibly hard to do both, so many immigrants come illegally and stay illegal. I’d like to look at what it would mean to have the equilibrium occur at a lower level of illegal residents.