A Specter of Common Sense
By Bryan Caplan
I can’t remember the last time I favorably quoted a politician, but these paragraphs from Arlen Specter are good enough to justify a break with tradition:
The main objective in legalizing the 12 million was to eliminate their fugitive status, allowing them to live in the United States without fear of being detected and deported or being abused by unscrupulous employers. We should consider a revised status for those 12 million people. Let them hold the status of those with green cards — without the automatic path to citizenship that was the core component of critics’ argument that reform efforts were really amnesty. Give these people the company of their spouses and minor children and consider other indicators of citizenship short of the right to vote (which was always the dealbreaker).
This approach may be attacked as creating an “underclass” inconsistent with American values, which have always been to give refuge to the “huddled masses.” But such a compromise is clearly better than leaving these people a fugitive class. People with a lesser status are frequently referred to as second-class citizens. Congress has adamantly refused to make the 12 million people already here full citizens, but isn’t it better for them to at least be secure aliens than hunted and exploited?
In fact, this is so reasonable I really wonder how Specter got elected in the first place.