As the husband of an immigrant, I know how expensive, lengthy, stressful, and frustrating the legal immigration process can be and the system definitely needs to be reformed.
Our current quota system makes applying for many visas to come to the United States more of a craps shoot than waiting in line. If an applicant does not get one of the visas allotted for his or her country, the result is a denial and forfeiture of fees and time. It does not put the applicant at the front of the line for the next year. Additionally, an immigrant who does not have millions to invest or a business or family in the US to sponsor him or her also has next to no chance of being allowed into the United States. This system encourages illegal immigration to the United States.
I propose doing away with the quota system. All applicants will be strictly vetted to ensure they do not have criminal backgrounds or ties to criminal or terrorist networks. If they are determined to be a low risk, they may enter. However, they will not be eligible for any government assistance, regardless of visa type. This free-market approach will allow those who wish to come the opportunity to come, as long as they pull their weight and can support themselves. If they are unable to support themselves, they will have to leave. If they turn to crime, they will be deported, as a violent crime will result in deportation and a lifetime ban from the United States.
Making it easier for people to come here legally will increase our workforce, increasing our revenues and increasing our Social Security pool. Between 1993 and 2013, about 25% of public US companies backed by venture capital investors were founded by immigrants, including Google, Intel, eBay, and Yahoo!. In fact, 18% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants, and 40% were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Despite being 12% of the population, they own 16.7% of businesses in the United States. Small businesses owned by immigrants employed 4.7 million people in the US in 2013 and generated $776 billion in revenue, not to mention the $1.7 trillion generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants. In 2017, there were 27 million immigrants in the US labor force. That means 27 million more people already paying taxes and Social Security. We should encourage more of that.
Enabling simpler immigration also drives American innovation. More than 75% of patents issued to the top ten patent producing universities credited immigrants as contributors.
As for those who are already here illegally, I think it is unrealistic to round up and deport 11 million people. In fact, the conservative American Action Forum estimated that it would cost anywhere from $103.9 billion to $303.7 billion to remove 11.2 million undocumented immigrants, as well as reduce our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $1.6 trillion and our labor force by 6.4%. Yet, we do not want to reward them for their illegal actions or incentivize others to do the same. For this reason, I propose allowing those who are already here illegally to stay and work legally, provided they have not committed any crimes, but make them ineligible for US citizenship and the benefits that go along with it, including Social Security, with the exception of those who came as children.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate from 2013 estimated that legalizing the 9.6 million illegal immigrants who were estimated to be here at the time would generate revenues that would decrease federal budget deficits by $158 billion within 7 years.
We do need a secure border to prevent cross-border criminal activity and to prevent those who may be dangerous from illegally entering the country. However, I do not support a wall to do this. It would not only be expensive to build, but also to maintain, it would have limited effectiveness, it would have negative environmental consequences, and worst of all, it would require eminent domain, or taking private land away from Americans. Instead, we must fully support the border patrol with modern technology and the required personnel and equipment to monitor and defend our border.