Do illegal immigrants have rights in the United States? Of course they do. The have the same basic human rights that all persons and peoples do in this country. They have the right to freedom of speech, expression, religion. They have the right to not be detained or incarcerated without due process, and to be treated humanely even if they are. But do they have civil rights? Do they have the same civil rights and liberties, and constitutional rights as the citizens of this country. The simple answer is no.
The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Civil Rights Act, along with other laws apply to U.S. Citizens and legal guests of this country. They do not apply to criminals. Ask any incarcerated person if they enjoy the full rights of free citizens. And illegal immigrants are criminals. They came into this country illegally, or stayed past their legally allowed time. They may not be hardened or violent criminals, but neither are jaywalkers, those who don't pay their income taxes, or those who drive over the speed limit or without insurance. And even citizens that break these laws, particularly repeat offenders, will eventually face incarceration. If one lives in Texas and violates a law in Arkansas, law enforcement officers do not escort them back across the state line. They charge them with a crime and the offender must go through the legal process. So why are violators of our borders and homeland security treated differently, even preferentially?
There are supposedly some eleven million illegal immigrants in this country. The vast majority are from Mexico. But do they do harm? That's not really the point, but let's examine it anyway. Do income tax evaders or cheaters, highway speeders, or uninsured motorists do harm? There is no clear proof they are more likely to be involved in an auto accident. But there is proof they are a factor in law abiding citizens having to pay higher premiums and taxes. To pose the argument that there are too many illegal immigrants to correct the problem, or prosecute, is preposterous. Sounds like the “too big to fail” argument big brother used to circumvent the economic law of survival and bail out poorly run businesses, depriving better run businesses of their right to supplant them in the supposedly free market. To 'bail out' all illegal immigrants with carpet immunity is not due process and penalizes those who have come to make this country their home – legally. Plus, illegal immigration does do harm to the economy, and at the expense of citizens. Illegals occupy jobs and drive down competitive wages. Consider this: Those that argue against the preceding three paragraphs do so from other perspectives and angles, and with personal, professional, or political agendas, but can not successfully refute the facts above. But pointing out a problem without offering a solution is pointless rhetoric, debate fodder. So what can be done?
Neither current major political party has an answer. Not one they want to publicly share anyway. It's not in their respective self-serving interests to alienate the second largest ethnic block of voters. So getting a straight forward, viable answer from any established politician is...wait, does this sentence actually need completing? And don't expect a posed solution from big business who use this illegal labor to maximize profits by exploiting the illegal workers through lower wages. But a simple citizen, with no agenda but the basic adherence to law, can come up with one – with relative ease.
Simply allow every illegal immigrant to report to the INS within the next three months for processing. Allow each person to remain in the country for twelve months and go through the legal channels of applying for and obtaining citizenship. Allow extensions for those successfully engaged in or progressing through the process so no one ends up being incarcerated or deported simply because the system gets bogged down. Those who do not comply should be arrested, not deported, and serve time in jails performing menial civil or infrastructure work at the same wages we currently pay other incarcerated persons until they have prepaid for their deportation expenses. Those who complete the legal process to citizenship should then be taxed at a slightly higher rate until any owed income taxes are paid. Those who continue to come across the border illegally should similarly be arrested and serve time for the purposes of allowing them to earn the money to pay for their deportation. Repeat offenders draw larger and larger fines and sentences, much as repeat DUI and other offenders do.
And what about the children? If they were born here they are citizens. In the event their parents or guardians are eventually deported their eventual status should be determined on a case by case basis by the appropriate service responsible for children's welfare in that state, such as the Department of Children's Services or the Department of Human Services for examples. Those old enough and/or those that have sponsors (family, friends, foster care) and a place to live may wish to stay. Others may wish to go with their parents. If they are too young the parents wishes may trump. The above mentioned services have models in place to determine who should have custody, much like in divorce proceedings. And think of all the jobs and income that would be created with this solution. More case workers for the DHS or DCS. More immigration officers. More penal officers. More educators. More IRS jobs. More money in the government coffers generated from those that caused the problem, instead of the average law abiding citizen footing the bill.
None of these solutions are perfect, but they are viable and workable. And remember this. This problem was not created by citizens of this country. We are just looking for an answer, and this one will do.