The best friend undocumented immigrants have ever had just got jeered during a speech in Obama-friendly California because his plan to do something fundamentally unfair to citizens isn’t moving fast enough. The hecklers were few, but immigration reform is in trouble. Does that mean our president’s ideas have to be shelved, or do Democrats just need to come up with more taxpayer-friendly ways to be fair?
There are better ways to be fair to undocumented immigrants.
President Obama was right when he said:
It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead. It’s not smart. It’s not fair.¹
It’s not smart and it isn’t fair, but bending over backwards for illegals while saddling Americans with undeserved guilt for unfair treatment seems harsh. We pay for the benefits that we lavish on the undocumented, including public education. The president wants to be fair and conservatives want to do the right thing for taxpayers, so here are five ways to bridge the gap and be really fair to everyone.
Help the undocumented come out of the shadows.
This is where we should start. Obama needs to remember that it was Eric Holder’s Justice Department that helped keep undocumented immigrants in the shadows by making sure proof of immigration status wasn’t required for routine encounters with officialdom, like enrolling in school or finessing a traffic stop. If illegals want to come out of the shadows they should verify their immigration status for anything that costs taxpayers money. That takes them out of hiding and puts them front and center.
Help them pay their taxes.
We sell tax stamps to drug dealers. I’m not sure why this idea hasn’t caught on when dealing with the undocumented. Amnesty loving politicians claim they can calculate the back taxes illegals owe, so we should charge those taxes now by selling undocumented immigrant tax stamps. If they don’t buy them we can seize their assets, like we do with citizens who don’t pay their obligations to Uncle Sam. We don’t need an amnesty bill to do that.
Offer the real value of an education.
Schools cost money. Public education is a benefit for taxpayers but we keep hearing that undocumented immigrants need to pay their taxes. For the sake of fairness, once they have come out of the shadows they can pay to educate their kids. Education stamps, anyone? That’s fair.
Allow them to pay for all the health care they want.
Healthcare.gov gets credit for pointing this out:
Undocumented immigrants may continue to buy coverage on their own outside the Marketplace and can get limited services for an emergency medical condition through Medicaid, if they are otherwise eligible for Medicaid in the state. Undocumented immigrants aren’t subject to the individual shared responsibility requirement.²
Here’s an idea. Since undocumented immigrants can buy private policies we should require insurers to offer them special plans that cost enough to pay for those who game the system and get their health care for free. Democrats claim illegals don’t use much in the way of public services, so the surcharge shouldn’t be too much to bear. For those who don’t want to buy a health plan we can tack a health care surcharge on the school fees and back taxes they owe. Seems fair, since uninsured citizens will soon be paying an Obamacare tax.
Will undocumented immigrants drive fairly and safely?
Being fair and responsible also means making sure everyone is safe on the roads. Lawmakers in states like Illinois and California have convinced themselves that illegal residents who haven’t already obtained illicit driver’s licenses are going to keep their insurance once they are approved to drive. Imagine their deer in the headlights reaction when citizens start getting into accidents with newly-licensed drivers who know they can’t and won’t be held responsible, and don’t care.
It’s not that hard to be fair as long as we remember that being fair is not the same thing as being foolish. We also need to remember who deserves our fairness and who doesn’t.
Updated March 29, 2016 to change link text.