Skip to content


Citizenship is a Responsibility, not a Birthright

By Helen Krieble 

President’s Trump’s proposal to end “birthright citizenship” has highlighted a long-simmering dispute about the qualifications for American citizenship, and the responsibilities that go with it. He is right to lead a long-overdue national debate about whether everyone born in the U.S. is “automatically” a citizen.

As virtually all experts on both sides explain, the legal answer comes down to how we interpret the 14th Amendment. Commentators who support automatic citizenship at birth often cite what they call “the plain language” of the Amendment, but it does not plainly support their claim.

The 14th Amendment reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

In other words, there are two aspects to American citizenship: birth or naturalization in the U.S. and being subject to its jurisdiction. The “jurisdiction clause” has meaning – or there would have been no need to include it. The primary purpose of the 14th Amendment was to provide full citizenship to recently freed slaves. But the “jurisdiction clause” was included precisely because not all people born in the U.S. are subject to its jurisdiction. Many may also have loyalties elsewhere, and have not voluntarily pledged allegiance to our form of government.

Michigan Senator Jacob Howard, author of the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause, made clear that the provision did not convey citizenship to “persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, or who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.” Judiciary Committee Chairman Lyman Trumbull agreed that it meant “not owing allegiance to anybody else and being subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States.”

It is clear from the recorded debates at the time, Congress did not intend to convey automatic citizenship to the children of foreign nationals (“foreigners or aliens”). It made no distinctions about whether they came to the U.S. as workers, tourists, students, or in any other category. In today’s context, it makes no difference whether they came to the U.S. legally or not – documented or undocumented. Those details all miss the point of the jurisdiction clause.

The point of that clause was explained by Professor Edward Erler, author of The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration. It is the key concept of what the Declaration of Independence calls “the consent of the governed.” Citizenship must be offered by the society, and it must be voluntarily accepted by one who understands the duties it includes. His analysis of the 14th Amendment is not just clear legal scholarship – it is plain common sense.

This is the heart of America’s founding principles. Americans are all equal under the law, not classified because of where they are born. They are “citizens” whose government only gets “just powers” from the consent of the governed. Thus, new citizens must “consent” to be governed by this system. That’s why the law requires that they voluntarily pledge loyalty to our government, and understand our history, language, and institutions. But treating the children of foreigners as citizens creates a class of “Americans” who have never agreed to those terms.

Congress has exercised its authority to decide who is “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States several times before, as with the Native American Tribes, to whom the 14th Amendment did not initially apply. That was because in 1868 (when the Amendment was ratified), they remained loyal to tribal nations, not the United States. It took three separate Acts of Congress between 1924 and 1940 to grant full citizenship to the Tribes – who had to accept it with a pledge of loyalty to the U.S. government, just as new citizens today must pledge.

President Trump believes Congress should also specify that children of illegal aliens are not “automatic” citizens. If Congress does not act, the President is considering acting by executive order, which would almost certainly give the Supreme Court another chance to clarify an 1898 ruling.

That 19th Century case is often cited as proof that the 14th Amendment made no exceptions, but it did not address the meaning of the “jurisdiction clause,” nor was the plaintiff in that case born to people who were in the U.S. illegally. Thus, it was written for a different era, and did not anticipate many aspects of today’s immigration issues. Indeed, it was written by the same court that had just upheld racial segregation, and its conclusions are ripe for a more modern analysis.

President Trump is right to raise the issue. We need a serious discussion, and a new understanding of the importance of citizenship. That requires a new Supreme Court decision – not a Constitutional Amendment.

This is not about race or national origin. While the children of foreign nationals should not be automatic “birthright” citizens, they certainly DO have the right to become citizens. Like anyone else in the world, they may apply, go through the prescribed process, and become citizens. But they must do so when they are old enough to responsibly pledge allegiance to the American form of government, and understand what makes it unique and revered around the world.

Is the American Experiment Dead?

By Helen E. Krieble

Last week’s op-ed by Stephen Dinan revealed that most Americans today could not pass the citizenship test. King George III would be so proud. He and his aristocratic friends laughed at America’s quaint “experiment” with self-government. To them it was unthinkable that common people were enlightened enough to rule themselves. That experiment is now the hope and dream of people throughout the world, but what about here in the U.S.?

Astonishingly, today’s Americans expect government to care for us from cradle to grave, the way commoners once expected a benevolent king to care for his subjects. We treat people as members of groups rather than as individuals, insidiously devolving into the very class system against which the founders rebelled. In a deeply disturbing sense, Americans are voluntarily surrendering the very freedoms that millions fought and died to establish and protect. James Garfield once said the most common form of death in politics is suicide. After a noble 225 year history, is the American experiment dying at the hands of its own people?

Many of the “long train of abuses” that led to our rebellion from the British Crown are eerily similar to our own government’s excesses. The Declaration of Independence listed grievances against the King that are all too familiar today. The authors accused the King of refusing “his assent to laws… necessary for the public good,” of forbidding locals to pass laws “of immediate and pressing importance,” even of dissolving local representative bodies. How different is that from today’s “supreme” federal system that routinely over-rides local and state laws, especially by federal court orders and “constitutional” rulings based on premises not in the Constitution? The Crown had “obstructed the administration of justice” by controlling judges’ tenure and salaries; today’s government does so by empowering judges to usurp legislative powers – to make up new laws rather than interpret laws passed by the people’s representatives. It is a more modern technique, but with the same anti-democratic result.

King George had “erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” In 2018 the federal government has more than 4 million employees and costs taxpayers over 4 trillion dollars a year. The King “combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,” much as modern leaders compromise our sovereignty to institutions like the UN, international courts, and foreign trade commissions.

The founders said government should protect private property, but today’s Supreme Court lets government take private property and sell to developers, take away the value of land by denying the right to use it, and force landowners to give their land for endangered species habitat, parks, trails, and “open space.” The first “inalienable right” in our Declaration was the right to life, but today’s courts prohibit states from protecting it. If we still believe “all men are created equal,” how can we justify racial preferences in school admission, government contracts and congressional re-apportionment? Freedom of speech is central to the Bill of Rights, but it is under attack by politically correct thought police at government-funded universities all across the nation. 

“The policy of the federal government,” wrote President Jefferson, “is to leave her citizens free – neither aiding nor restraining them in their pursuits.” Today, we are not allowed to plan our own retirement, design our own health insurance, or even devise our own children’s education. The endless intrusion reaches every facet of our lives from where we can hike in the woods to how our hamburgers must be cooked. Both parties instinctively look to government as the first answer to all problems. Even Republicans propose solving issues like illegal immigration by hiring thousands more federal employees.

There is one crucial difference: unlike our colonial ancestors, contemporary Americans voluntarily agreed to all these usurpations with their votes. We have been warned frequently to be alert. In 1835 Tocqueville wrote, “the American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Sadly, that day has long since arrived.

Americans have two clear choices. Do we really want to declare the America of our founders dead and accept a mediocre socialism it has devolved into? Or do we want to withdraw the “consent of the governed” and revive the American experiment that made us the freest people on earth and the envy of the world?”

By Helen Krieble | September 16, 2018

In my early studies of Latin, I remember reading the famous story about Pliny the Younger, who was appointed Roman Governor of an area that is now part of Turkey. When he took office in the year 111 A.D., he had to deal with the ongoing persecution of early Christians, an issue to which he had never been exposed.

He wrote to the Roman Emperor Trajan asking for guidance. Pliny reported that because of the trials’ publicity, accusations had spread and rumors were rampant about who was and was not a Christian. “An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons,” he wrote, asking what to do with it.

Trajan’s response has been quoted for nearly 2000 years: “Anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.

Is the spirit of our American age so different? Or have we devolved back to a system of persecution based on anonymous rumors? Observers of today’s news might think so, especially watching the flap over publication by the nation’s largest newspaper, The New York Times, of an anonymous column supposedly written by a “senior administration official.”

The column claims that there is a growing “resistance” movement among Trump insiders, and makes several accusations about the president’s personality and leadership style.

Why would the author want to remain unknown? One popular website that helps people write anonymous letters says it can “help you find your voice and express yourself without fear of the repercussions associated with confronting the person yourself.” But how can that be squared with one of America’s founding principles, enshrined in the Bill of Rights — the right of accused persons to confront and question their accusers?

Anonymous letters cannot be used as evidence in court, because their source[s] cannot be verified by cross-examination. Just as unsigned charges cannot be admitted in court, so they should also not be admissible in the court of public opinion.

There is nothing particularly new or shocking about this writer’s accusations, all of which we hear on a daily basis from the president’s critics. What is shocking, however, is the low ethical standards of which this incident is symptomatic. Someone who apparently serves at the pleasure of the president, and therefore owes his/her livelihood to the sovereign American people for whom that president works, thinks his views are more important, valid, and correct. We are expected to take his word for that, without knowing where he got his information.

Remembering the 6th Amendment right of accused persons to question accusers, there is one key question diligent newspaper readers would ask the anonymous columnist: “How do you know?”

Without knowing who the writer is, what meetings he may have attended, what job he holds, who he reports to, or what documents he has access to, how can “we the people” possibly judge the veracity of his allegations?

What we do know is that whoever he is, he was not elected and represents nobody. Ours is a republic in which power resides in the people themselves, and policy is made by the people we elect. We authorize presidents to appoint various officials to help them faithfully execute the laws, but the president represents the will of the people. He governs by the consent of the governed. No subordinate official is authorized to judge his effectiveness or fitness for office — that power belongs only to “we the people.”

Americans may be forgetting that their founding principles included ethics, morality, and virtue. George Washington wrote that virtue was the very basis of self-government, “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people,” he said. Benjamin Franklin was even more direct: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

Our system’s very foundation is the idea that ordinary people can govern themselves. That requires that be we well informed, so we can properly judge between right and wrong. Anonymous letters strike at the very heart of that fundamental truth.

In Shirley Jackson’s famous short story, “The Possibility of Evil,” an old woman thinks she is helping rid her small town of evil by constantly writing anonymous letters. But it turns out that the letters, whose damaging accusations often prove false, cause irreversible turmoil. It is thus revealed that the anonymous writer herself is the real evil.

Reactions to the New York Times piece have been sadly predictable. Other newspapers made hay with a story that the Trump administration is imploding. TV news shows paint a picture of inside squabbling and dissent. Administration allies counter by demanding the Times disclose the author’s name, and many are calling for the resignation or firing of the culprit. Some even suggest that such anonymous columns are a threat to national security. They all miss the mark.

The important point about an anonymous editorial has less to do with the author, and more to do with our own reactions. We shouldn’t care who wrote it; we should ignore it. The fact that a particular newspaper decided to publish it speaks volumes about the editor’s ethics, but not about ours. We should simply react as Trajan did, insisting that no prosecution — legal or political — should be based on anything anonymous. It is “out of keeping with the spirit of our age.” Or it should be.

Immigration and Economic Freedom

Immigration critics have claimed that newcomers to the United States have increased crime and on balance have taken away jobs from the native population. Readers of The Lighthouse may recall our work refuting these claims. Now we turn to another mistaken belief about immigration–the idea that it has reduced economic freedom in the United States–and elsewhere. Writing in Reason, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin Powell argues that the claim flies in the face of scholarly research. READ MORE

More Immigration Does Not Mean Less Economic Freedom, by Benjamin Powell (Reason, 6/13/17)

The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy, edited by Benjamin Powell

Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa 

Safe Spaces” Should Have No Place on College Campuses

Terry Schilling, The National Pulse

In a recent Liberty Minute titled “That Offends Me,” Helen Krieble, founder and president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, spoke about the problem with safe spaces on university campuses:

“On many college campuses today, activists insist on safe zones where nobody hears ideas that might offend them. Administrators control speech and publish handbooks advising faculty and students what they can and cannot say.

They ought to look through the lens of liberty first and understand that freedom of speech is one of our first rights under the constitution. If everyone agreed on every issue and nobody ever said anything offensive, we wouldn’t need the first amendment. We need it to protect speech with which we may not agree and to protect our right to express our opinions whether they’re popular or not.

When you’re only exposed to one side of an issue, you’re being brainwashed, not educated. That is counter to the very purpose of our universities and should offend everyone.”

As Krieble points out, safe spaces have no place in our education system. Universities ought to be places where students are constantly challenged to pursue truth through vigorous debate and intellectual inquiry. In the name of protecting some students from having to encounter opposing viewpoints, safe spaces silence others and thereby hinder the intellectual growth of the university as a whole.

In these safe spaces, only students who share the same ideologies as those who designated the space as “safe” are permitted to speak. Any other opinions which may offend those protected students is forbidden. This is a direct violation of the other students’ First Amendment freedom of speech.

Since the establishment of safe spaces at universities has picked up speed recently, more and more students are being silenced. Given that the majority of large college campuses are predominantly liberal, it is usually the students with conservative political views whose free speech is shut down.

Last weekend, during his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, Vice President Mike Pence touched upon the same issue Krieble addresses. He told the audience that safe spaces, speech codes, tone policing, and political correctness all amount to “the suppression of free speech” which is “destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge.”

It is time for university administrators to realize that, in the name of being “safe,” they are not only suppressing free speech, but also suppressing the intellectual growth of their students. They are thwarting the very purpose for which their institutions exist. Let the hypersensitive students be insulted. After all, if their viewpoints are really the true ones, they ought to be able to withstand insult and win any argument thrown their way.

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project

Border Security and Immigration made Simple

Clifford D. May

The nation-state is a relatively new idea — scholars generally trace it back to the 17th century. It has its flaws, but has anyone come up with a better approach to world order? A nation-state enjoys sovereignty over its territory. Territories are separated by borders. Securing those borders may require barriers and controlled points of entry.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Donald Trump pledged to build a wall in order to secure America’s southern border. Quite a few voters approved. I don’t think they’re wrong.

But what if we had a way to identify foreigners who want to come to America only to do jobs Americans don’t want to do, differentiating them from foreigners with illicit intentions — as well as those too eager to avail themselves of the entitlements of an advanced welfare state? What if we had a way to distinguish those looking only for temporary employment from those enthusiastic about assuming the responsibilities of American citizenship, such as defending the United States and the Constitution?
The ability to recognize such differences would not obviate the need to secure the border — it would just make the task a whole lot easier. I’m here to report to you on what seems to me a simple and elegant plan to do that and more.

It’s the brainchild not of Washington think tank scholars or members of Congress but of Helen Krieble, a 74-year-old independent businesswoman who a few years ago had to shut down an equestrian farm in Colorado because she couldn’t get the workers she needed.

Ms. Krieble calls her idea the “red card solution.” It requires the utilization of free-market forces, the application of technology that already exists and not much else. It would begin with the government licensing private employment agencies to grant non-immigrant work permits to foreign workers in foreign countries. Anyone with a criminal record or extremist links need not apply.

The agencies would utilize a database to match applicants to specific job openings, seasonal or full-time, that employers had demonstrated they could not fill. No job, no permit. How many guest workers are admitted would depend on the law of supply and demand — not on quotas set by bureaucrats or politicians based on guesses about how many workers will be needed in agriculture, construction, hotels, restaurants and other industries.

Those granted work permits would receive a “smart card.” It might be red — so as not to confuse it with the “green” cards given to those who have permanent resident status in the U.S. Red cards would be embedded with biometric and other information that employers, border guards and law enforcement officers could obtain with a quick swipe as one does with a credit card. Red Cards would cost less than $5 to produce and be paid for with user fees, not tax dollars.

Guest workers would live and labor under the same laws and rules as American workers. They’d enjoy the same protections. They could not be easily exploited as they too often are now. They’d pay taxes. But they would not be entitled to all the benefits that American citizens have awarded themselves. When you invite a guest into your home you owe him courtesy and respect — but he’s not a member of your household.

When jobs end — for any reason — the guest workers go home. They can return — when and if other jobs for which they are qualified become available.

Employers caught hiring foreigners who don’t have Red Cards would face serious penalties. The same for aliens working without Red Cards. That would sharply diminish the incentive for crossing the border illegally. As for the millions of foreigners already in the U.S. illegally, perhaps they could apply for Red Cards and receive them if they have jobs and an otherwise clean record.

What about citizenship? That’s an important issue but it’s a separate issue. Many of those who want to work and earn wages in the U.S. are doing so in order to support families back home. Their goal is not to become Americans.

As for those who do want to be naturalized, they should be subject to a highly selective process. Offers of American citizenship — equivalent to an invitation to become a member of the American family — should not be handed out lightly.

It makes absolutely no sense to give away citizenship via a “visa lottery” as we do now. As for family unification, that should be limited to only the closest relatives. It shouldn’t turn into an endless chain as it does now.

If I have a foreign uncle who is indolent and lacking in skills, why should he get priority over someone who is hardworking and has abilities that could benefit Americans? By what logic would you give a U.S. passport to my cousin the Nazi, communist or jihadi — especially if that means that someone who embraces such American values as liberty and tolerance may not be able to pursue happiness in America?

Members of Congress ought to be taking this idea and running with it — or at least using it as a starting point for a thoughtful effort to find a creative legislative solution to problems that we’ve been arguing over for much too long.

The new administration’s oft-stated goal is to put American interests first. It seems to me that Ms. Krieble has come up with a plan that would improve border security, benefit American taxpayers, fill chronic labor shortages thereby strengthening the U.S. economy, bring workers who are now here illegally into legal compliance (without granting amnesty), safeguard human and civil rights, and open opportunities to friendly workers abroad. Has anyone come up with a better approach?

 Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times.

Be My Guest?

By Helen Krieble

When you have guests in your home, do you immediately add them to your family health plan, give them keys to drive your car, and put them in your will? The answer is “of course not,” because we all understand the difference between guests and family. Current issues involving illegal immigration, American citizenship, and even the dilemma of Syrian refugees, should be considered in the same light.

America has always been open to people around the world seeking freedom and the opportunity to build a better life. That’s why we have legal immigration, permanent residency, and ultimately citizenship for several million new Americans each year. We have also been open to foreigners who only seek work in the U.S., to earn money they can scarcely dream about in much of the world. That’s why we have work visas, and several thousand temporary workers who use money earned in this country to capitalize better lives for themselves and their families back home. In addition, Americans have often been willing to accept refugees fleeing genocide, slavery, and religious or political persecution abroad.

Whether we are discussing temporary workers, permanent immigrants, or refugees from Syria – all part of the current campaign debates – we should remain vigilant in protecting the value of American citizenship. It is easy to understand why that matters for people seeking to become naturalized citizens of the United States. But to the extent that refugees may stay permanently, as most have done historically, they are likely to show up eventually in the citizenship line, too.

Here’s why that matters. America is not just a place, but an idea – the idea that ordinary people can govern themselves, rather than be subject to kings or dictators. Legally becoming an American citizen is a significant accomplishment requiring a complex process. An immigrant must live in the U.S. for five years, speak English, learn about our history and government, be of good character and most important, renounce all other allegiances and promise loyalty to the United States and its Constitution – including a promise to defend the country if called upon. Citizenship is a very serious responsibility. Do we know that all the refugees the President wants to resettle in the U.S. are prepared to accept those responsibilities? He claims it is “un-American” not to admit these refugees, but is it un-American to allow people to come here who have no interest in supporting or defending our cherished founding principles?

Our nation’s founders realized a fundamental truth – democracy only works if people understand it. America only works if citizens understand its history and the important ideals upon which it is built. They must know that e pluribus unum, our national motto, means our strength comes not from diversity, but from unity – from our shared commitment to a form of government based on the responsible individual and on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is what makes our country exceptional and our people one. Only people who understand and explicitly agree to those principles should become American citizens.

Much of the debate about allowing refugees from dangerous places like Syria centers on whether we can be sure they are not future terrorists, certainly a legitimate concern. But there should be even more to the discussion, and so far no politician has asked the central question about the commitment of people we must assume are likely future American citizens. Is there any evidence that these people share our fundamental principles? Or will we eventually be offering citizenship – full voting privileges – to people merely because they are physically present in the U.S?

Citizenship should never be granted, or accepted, merely because someone happens to be here, no matter how they arrived. It should be conveyed carefully to people who understand its true meaning, and accept it with a hand over the heart, a lump in the throat, and a commitment to defend our unique American system.

This is the lens through which Americans should view all political issues – the lens of liberty. If we look through that lens, we can easily see that immigration to the U.S. cannot solve all the world’s difficult problems. That reality does not require that we sacrifice our compassion, or our commitment to be a beacon of freedom for the world. It does mean that before we make decisions on issues that could change the course of our nation’s history, we should carefully consider the two primary responsibilities of all citizens: to defend our freedom against all threats, and to pass it along to the next generation enhanced, and not diminished.

Helen Krieble is founder and president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, a noted authority on immigration policy and American citizenship.

News Articles

As Illegal Entry Rises, Solutions Include Establishing New Work Visas and Bilateral Agreements with Mexico and Central America

Not on Obama’s Texas Itinerary: The Border

The GOP Must Move on Immigration Now

America’s Immigration Opportunity

Why Michigan Needs More Immigrants

DeMint: Why should we trust Barack Obama on immigration reform?

The 4 Major Challenges The U.S. Economy Faces In 2014

New Polling Finds Immigrants Value Legalization More Than Citizenship

A U.S. Worker Shortage Calls For ‘Red Card’ Immigration Reform

Border Lawmaker Woos Latinos, on His Terms?

Pearce Guest Worker Proposal Is Real Border Security

Human Events: The Immigration Debate is Missing the Point

Forbes: Let’s Institute A Market-Based System For Ambitious Immigrants Yearning For Freedom

The Washington Times: Quotas v. the Marketplace

The New York Times: Latino Groups Warn Congress to Fix Immigration, or Else

The Daily Caller: “Gang of Eight” Analysis

Americas Majority: Immigration, a Misspecified “Problem”

American Spectator: Real Immigration Reform Requires Free Markets

Mercury News: Ruben Navarrette: ‘Red Card’ solution may be the immigration answer

Release: National Poll To Be Unveiled Wednesday Showing Support For Employer Driven Guest Worker Plan

The Pueblo Chieftain: First Step

The Pueblo Chieftain: A tepid step

Release: Capitol Hill Briefing hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Release: Key Findings From The National Survey Of Registered Voters Regarding Immigration

Video: America’s Roundtable: Helen Krieble, Why Immigration Reform is Vital for America

The Weekly Standard: Immigration Bill This Year?

EFE: Obama Buscará Reactivar el Debate Migratorio, Aún si no hay un Clima Favorable

Hot Air: Immigration On or Off the Table?

PR Newswire: The White House. The Red Card. Why not?

U.S. News and World Report: Immigration Reform Now Moves to Center Stage

PR Newswire: Private Business Tackles Immigration-The Red Card Solution: A Path to Legality, Not Citizenship for Temporary Workers.

US News: An Immigration Compromise?

Equestrian Magazine: Halloween with Horses Cancelled for 2009

Spero Forum: Red Card Biometrics Touted for Immigration Reform

The Cutting Edge News: Biometric Technology Advances Immigration Solution but Perhaps at Price of Civil Liberties

Release: Red Card Solution Handout

CNN Debate: Speaker Gingrich

Post-CNN Debate Discussion with Speaker Gingrich

National Review Online: Newt Gingrich and the Krieble Foundation Plan

Washington Post: A closer look at Gingrich’s ‘Red Card’ immigration plan

National Review Online: GOP Candidates Betray the Spirit of Reagan on Immigration

The Moral Liberal: V&V Q&A: On the “Red Card Solution”


As Illegal Entry Rises, Solutions Include Establishing New Work Visas and Bilateral Agreements with Mexico and Central America

By Stuart Anderson

National Foundation for American Policy

Executive Summary

Illegal entry, as measured by apprehensions at the border, has increased by 45 percent since FY 2011, according to an analysis of data obtained from the U.S. Border Patrol. Based on data through May 2014, apprehensions will reach 476,557 or higher by the end of FY 2014, which would be 45 percent higher than the FY 2011 total of 327,577. Much of the increase in illegal entry is from migrants, including both adults and unaccompanied minors, from Central America. This level of illegal entry is likely to persist if the U.S. economy continues to improve and Congress does not pass legislation to establish legal visas for lower-skilled work. Moreover, the time has come to establish bilateral agreements with Mexico and Central America that would, in part, authorize work permits for nationals of those countries in exchange for cooperation on immigration enforcement. If parents had been able to work in the United States legally and travel freely back and forth to Central America it is likely the current situation along the Southwest border would never have happened, since parents would have gone home to help their children or petitioned for them legally. The current policy primarily benefits human smuggling cartels, which profit by controlling the routes to enter the U.S. illegally. Relying on U.S. law enforcement alone (Border Patrol and interior enforcement) to resolve primarily an economic issue (people from poorer countries seeking jobs in America or joining parents already working in the United States) has proven to be a questionable policy choice. Absent a change in policy, the costs in dollars and human lives will remain substantial.

Illegal Immigration Rising Again

Even before the recent arrival of Central Americans along the Southwest border, illegal immigration had been rising. Data on apprehensions make it clear illegal immigration began to rise in FY 2012. This came after years of fewer attempts to enter illegally that coincided with the sluggish economy (2007 to 2011). Maintaining the status quo is unlikely to reduce illegal entry or the unauthorized immigrant population, since there will still be no reliable legal category for lower-skilled workers. Adding more Border Patrol agents to “secure the border” may be fruitless at a time when many unaccompanied minors and parents with children are turning themselves in at the border.

Historically, apprehensions along the Southwest border have been a good indicator of illegal entry. “Despite their limitations, then, as now, INS apprehension figures are the best available indication of the degree of illegal immigration,” noted the Congressional Research Service in a 1980 report.1 In general, the fewer the apprehensions, the lower the flow of illegal immigration, while an increase in apprehensions generally means more illegal entry. Law enforcement, market conditions, and the availability of legal entry all affect the illegal flow.

With the expanding U.S. economy and limited economic opportunities south of the border, the year 2000 saw likely the highest level of attempted illegal entry, with apprehensions along the Southwest border reaching more than 1.6 million. With the economy slowing in 2001 and 2002, apprehensions dropped to 1.2 million in FY 2001 and 929,809 in FY 2002. Apprehensions increased back above 1 million a year in FY 2004, 2005 and 2006, then, as the U.S. economy faltered, apprehensions began to decline to low as 327,577 in FY 2011.

Since FY 2011, the number of apprehensions along the Southwest border have increased to 356,873 in FY 2012 and 414,397 in FY 2013, and is projected, based on data obtained from the Border Patrol, to reach 476,557or higher by the end of FY 2014, which is a level 45 percent above the FY 2011 total of apprehensions.2

The overall level of the unauthorized immigrant population is another indicator that trends in illegal immigration may be going in the wrong direction. The Pew Research Center entitled a September 2013report: “Population Decline of Unauthorized Immigrants Stalls, May Have Reversed.” The report raised the level of unauthorized immigrants in the country from 11.5 million to 11.7 million. “The sharp decline in the U.S. population of unauthorized immigrants that accompanied the 2007-2009 recession has bottomed out, and the number may be rising again,” according to Pew.3

The increase in apprehensions does not mean illegal entry will increase to the levels seen 10 years ago or earlier. However, it likely means the U.S. government is seeing the limits of an “enforcement only” approach, rather than combining enforcement with paths to work legally at lower-skilled jobs in the United States.

The Current Influx at the Border

The influx of Central Americans along the Southwest border in the summer of 2014, while larger in scale, actually continues a trend that began at least two years ago. In FY 2012, 99,000 apprehensions along the Southwest border were of “Other Than Mexican” and 266,000 were Mexican, according to the Border Patrol. 4 In FY 2013, the number of “Other Than Mexican” apprehensions increased to 148,988, while the number of apprehensions of Mexicans remained about the same (at 265,409). In other words, nearly all of the increase in apprehensions in FY 2013 came from non-Mexicans. The percentage of non-Mexican apprehensions increased from 27 percent of the total in FY 2012 to 36 percent in FY 2013. 5 Similar trends are apparent in FY 2014. In fact, through May 2014, Other Than Mexican” apprehensions account for 50 percent of the apprehensions along the Southwest borer, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Key Factors in Influx

Reports of thousands of minors from Central America crossing the Southwest border and in many cases turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents has caused many to seek a single factor to blame for the situation. First, the current attempted migration continues the recent trend in illegal entry, albeit at a higher level. Second, the influx of Central Americans can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the lack of legal visas for lower-skilled work in the United States, the power of human smugglingcartels, misinformation about U.S. policies and correct assumptions about policies on the treatment of unaccompanied minors.

Lack of Legal Visas for Low-Skilled Workers

America still does not possess a means for individuals to fill lower-skilled jobs with legal visas in year-round industries like construction, landscaping, hotels and restaurants. The influx of child migrants at the border is one manifestation of the lack of economic-based visas. Parents who first came to the country to work have found that increased border security means after making it to the United States itis not advisable to travel back and forth, as people did many years ago. Having established economic footholds superior to those in their home countries many have sent for their children to join them, with gangs and other violence, including the abuse of girls, an additional push factor driving young people from Central America. If parents could work in the United States legally and travel back and forth to Central Americathe current situation likely would never have happened. That is because if parents could travel freely they would have gone home to help their children or been able to petition for them legally if the legal visa category permitted dependents or the number of employment-based green cards for lower-skilled workers was set at a more realistic level than the current 5,000 per year.

Human Smuggling Cartels

Human smuggling cartels, believed to be part of the Mexican drug cartels, are the prime mover of people crossing the Southwest border illegally. Smuggling migrants from Latin America into the United States may generate revenue in excess of $6 billion a year for the cartels, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.7 Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has blamed the cartels for spreading misinformation to drum up business. However, the only reason the cartels are in a position to profit from human smuggling is legal avenues are shut off to those who want to work legally in the United States at lower-skilled jobs, and also closed to their family members.

Gangs and Violence in Central America, Misinformation, and Policy Changes

Interviews conducted by journalists with migrants in the area of the border or back in Central America detail the reasons for attempting to enter the United States unlawfully at this time. “A vast majority said they were fleeing gang violence that has reached epidemic levels in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in recent years,” reports the Associated Press. “The migrants also uniformly said they decided to head north because they had heard that a change in U.S. law requires the Border Patrol to swiftly release children and their mothers and let them stay in the United States.”8

Other reports also describe the situation from which minors are fleeing. “Faviana has left her unwed mother and six siblings behind because of street violence,” writes The Economist. “She has not been to school for four years because, she says, gangs threaten to kill girls like her. Her uncle and aunt were recently murdered. Her mother is so poor, some days the family goes without food. Rape is a word she uses frequently; it happens all around her. But she hopes to reach the United States to go back to school.”9

Deploying additional Border Patrol agents is unlikely to solve the problem, since many migrants are turning
themselves into agents to avoid the treacherous journey through the desert. “The belief that women and children can safely surrender to authorities the moment they set foot in the U.S. has changed thecalculus for tens of thousands of parents who no longer worry about their children finishing the dangerous tripnorth through Mexico with a potentially deadly multiday hike through the desert Southwest,” according to the Associated Press.10

It is unknown the extent to which two policy changes in recent years have contributed to unaccompanied minors and families with children traveling to the U.S. border. But it is likely both policy changes have influenced the course of events. In 2012, President Obama announced an administrative action called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It permitted unauthorized immigrants who entered America as children to receive relief from deportation and work authorization. Even though new entrants to the United States would not be eligible for DACA, the administrative action may have contributed to a misunderstanding about current U.S. law.

The second policy change came years earlier. In 2003, after Congress voted to create the Department of Homeland Security, it gave the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) an important role in the detention or release of unaccompanied minors, authorities that previously were the domain of the enforcement divisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.11 The intention was that HHS should err on the side of releasing minors to adult guardians, rather than detaining minors in government facilities while awaiting adjudication of their immigration case.

In addition, as reported by The Economist, “Whereas the United States is allowed rapidly to send illegal Mexican child migrants back across the border, it is required to treat those from Central America differently. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, moreover, border agents cannot hold children for more than 72 hours. They must be given a court hearing before they are either deported or allowed to stay.”12 The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act states, “[A]n unaccompanied alien child in the custody of the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall be promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child.”13

Under the law today, it is possible for some juveniles in immigration proceedings to gain legal status and eventually permanent residence. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains, “The purpose of the Special Immigrant Juveniles status (SIJ) program is to help foreign children in the United States who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected: certain children who are unable to be reunited with a parent can get a green card as a SIJ; children who get a green card through the SIJ program can live and work permanently in the United States.”14

Policy Recommendations: Follow the Law, New Work Visas, Bilateral Immigration Agreements with Central America

Three policy recommendations would help address the current situation at the Southwest border and place the United States in a better position to prevent a future influx, while also reducing illegal immigration and providing improved enforcement.

First, the Administration must obey the law on unaccompanied minors or ask Congress to change the law in a responsible fashion if it is found the law is contributing to the current problems at the border. Following the law will likely result in unaccompanied minors with meritorious cases to be allowed to stay legally, while many others likely would be returned to their home country. The Obama Administration is asking Congress for additional spending ($3.7 billion) and changes in the law that could facilitate adjudications and repatriating unaccompanied minors to Central America.15

Second, Congress needs to pass legislation to authorize legal visas for work in the United States at jobs that are year-round and do not require a high school degree, particularly in sectors where many unauthorized immigrants now work, such as hotels, restaurants, landscaping and construction. It is likely such legislation would pass, and with sufficient annual quotas, only as part of a political compromise that would grant some form of legalization to many individuals already in the country without legal status.16 The ability to travel back and forth freely to Central America could prevent a future influx of unaccompanied minors or families, while some form of legalization could also allow family members to be reunited through legal means.

Third, longer term, the best approach is to combine fully portable work permits – not tied to aspecific employer – with bilateral administrative agreements between the United States and countries that send unauthorized immigrants to America. This approach would provide labor market freedom and, therefore, protection for new workers, at the same time it would elicit cooperation on immigration enforcement from Mexico and eventually other key countries.17 Today, there is only limited political incentive for foreign countries to cooperate on immigration enforcement with the United States.

Congress would authorize the President to sign bilateral administrative agreements with Mexico, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and potentially other countries, to distribute an agreed upon number of work permits annually in conjunction with commitments on immigration enforcement and security issues from these nations. This approach would address the “future flow” of workers, reduce illegal immigration and establish a reliable framework for improved border security and immigration enforcement. These changes in policies would represent a significant improvement over thestatus quo and can help prevent a recurrence of the recent influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America to the United States.17

About the Author

Stuart Anderson is Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization in Arlington, Va. Stuart served as Executive Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning and Counselor to the Commissioner at the Immigration and Naturalization Service from August 2001 to January 2003. He spent four and a half years on Capitol Hill on the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, first for Senator Spencer Abraham and then as Staff Director of the subcommittee for Senator Sam Brownback. Prior to that, Stuart was Director of Trade and Immigration Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., where he produced reports on the military contributions of immigrants and the role of immigrants in high technology. He has an M.A. from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science from Drew University. Stuart has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He is the author of the book Immigration (Greenwood, 2010).

About the National Foundation for American Policy

Established in 2003, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization based in Arlington, Virginia, focusing on trade, immigration and related issues. The Advisory Board members include Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati, former U.S. Senator and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Ohio University economist Richard Vedder, former INS Commissioner James Ziglar and other prominent individuals. Over the past 24 months, NFAP’s research has been written about in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major media outlets. The organization’s reports can be found at


1 Congressional Research Service, Temporary Worker Programs: Background and Issues. A report prepared at the request of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman on the Judiciary, United States Senate, for the use of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, February 1980.
2 According to the Border Patrol, apprehensions through May 2014 are 15 percent above the same period last year. Apprehensions could end up even higher than 15 percent over FY 2013 by the end of FY 2014.
3 Jeffrey S. Passel, D’Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, Population Decline of Unauthorized Immigrants Stalls, May Have Reversed, Pew Research Center, September 23, 2013.
4 U.S. Border Patrol.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid.
7 The Globalization of Crime, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna, 2010, p. 66.
8 Albert Arce, “Kids at the Border Alone: What Families Believe About Fleeing to U.S.,” Associated Press, San Jose Mercury
News, June 25, 2014.
9 “Under-Age and On the Move,” The Economist, June 28, 2014.
10 Albert Arce, San Jose Mercury News.
11 The vote on the bill took place in 2002. HHS explains its role: “On March 1, 2003, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Section 462, transferred responsibilities for the care and placement of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) from the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) . . . Unaccompanied alien children (UAC) apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officials, are transferred to the care and custody of ORR. ORR makes and implements placement decisions in the best interests of the UAC to ensure placement in the least restrictive setting possible while in federal custody. ORR takes into consideration the unique nature of each UAC’s situation and incorporates child welfare principles when making placement, clinical, case management, and release decisions that are in the best interest of the child.”
12 “Under-Age and on the Move,” The Economist.
13 Section 235 of The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
14 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
15 Julia Preston, “Obama to Seek Funds to Stem Border Crossings and Speed Deportations, The New York Times, June 29, 2014; Michael Shear, “Obama Seeks Nearly $4 billion for Immigration Crisis,” The New YorkTimes, July 8, 2014.
16 Stuart Anderson, A Path to an Agreement? Analyzing House and Senate Plans for Legalizing the Unauthorized Immigrant Population, NFAP Policy Brief, National Foundation for American Policy, January 2014.
17 For a more detailed explanation see Stuart Anderson, Common Sense, Common Interests, NFAP Policy Brief, National Foundation for American Policy, May 2009.

Not on Obama’s Texas Itinerary: The Border

By John Fund

National Review Online

San Diego – President Obama will visit Texas this week for three political fundraisers. One place he will not visit while in Texas: the Mexican border. A border visit is apparently not necessary, in Obama’s view, to monitor the crisis that has seen thousands of migrants – including unaccompanied children – flood into the United States.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest bizarrely says that people criticizing Obama’s failure to visit the border would “rather play politics than actually try to address some of these challenges.” The president, it seems, will “lead from behind” once again. All this has been too much for Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents the border city of Laredo. “They should have seen this coming a long time ago . . . because we saw those numbers increasing,” he said today on CNN’s State of the Union. Cuellar admitted that our current system creates perverse incentives. “There is an incentive that if you bring your child over here, or you’re a child by yourself, you’re going to be let go. And that’s exactly what’s happening,” he said. “Our immigration courts are so backlogged. There’s not enough detention spaces. . . . This is the incentive we have to take away.” As for Obama’s pledge to send more personnel to the border, Cuellar didn’t sound confident: “I think he’s still one step behind. They knew this was happening a year ago. . . . and they are not reacting fast enough at this time.”

The crisis at the border should serve as a slap in the face to people in both parties who have been unable to come up with a border solution for the last decade. On the one hand, Democrats’ insistence that any reform must be “comprehensive” and include a path to citizenship ignores the fact that for most migrants, becoming a citizen is not a first-tier priority. The Pew Research Center found last year that of the 5.4 million Mexican immigrants who reside legally in the U.S. today, only 36 percent have chosen to become citizens. Safety, the ability to visit family and friends in Mexico and return, and being able to live openly in society are far more important to immigrants. For their part, many Republicans who insist on an enforcement-only approach ignore the evidence that the 45-year-old “War on Drugs” has done little to stem drug trafficking on the border despite an increase of more than 50 percent in Border Patrol funding over the last six years.

Border Patrol agents I spoke with were reluctant to be quoted on the record, but all agreed that a comprehensive solution that combines better border enforcement (which entails less-political enforcement) with a well-designed guest-worker program is necessary if we wish to make real progress. “We need to enforce employer sanctions at the same time we give employers a legal path to fill the jobs they must have workers for,” one agent told me. A retired agent points to the bracero (“one who works using his arms” in Spanish) guest-worker visa program, which until 1964 brought Mexican manual laborers north to work in agriculture, construction, and service industries.

The bracero program began during a labor shortage in World War II and expanded in response to an immigration crisis that peaked in 1954, when arrests of illegal aliens topped the 1 million mark. Under the bracero program, some 300,000 Mexican workers entered the U.S. legally every year. The results were dramatic. By 1959, arrests of illegal aliens had fallen to 45,000 a year; they remained under 100,000 annually until 1964.

There were human-rights abuses; perhaps the worst was that braceros saw 10 percent of their wages placed in accounts to be held for them by the Mexican government. An overwhelming majority of the workers never saw that money.

But the program’s ultimate sin was that it worked too well. It fell victim to opposition from labor-union leaders who viewed the braceros as competition for their members. Growers also spearheaded opposition to the program; they wanted to continue to hire illegal workers so that they could ignore the federally required minimum wage and working-condition requirements of the bracero program. “In 1953, the Eisenhower administration attempted to stop the illegal importation” of workers, writes historian Robert Caro in The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, but Johnson, who was then the Senate minority leader, was “on the growers’ side” and bitterly opposed the bracero program. A decade later, as president, Johnson struck the bracero program a fatal blow. A White House tape recording captures Johnson in 1964 telling one opponent of the bracero program that “these people are taking our jobs.” In December 1964, he issued an executive order killing the program. With its demise, the problem of illegal immigration returned. By 1976 apprehensions reached 876,000, and they mostly rose for decades until the Great Recession drove them back down. Even with the weak economy, they were still above 400,000 in 2013.

Border agents tell me they could most effectively do their job and contain the spreading corruption within their ranks if they didn’t have to chase down people coming here to work and could focus their resources instead on catching gang members and terrorists. In the wake of the “children’s crisis” on our border, it’s time to stake out a rational middle ground on immigration. “Congress could consider ideas for a practical temporary-worker program such as that being promoted by businesswoman Helen Krieble, called the Red Card Solution,” writes former GOP senator Jim DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation. Krieble, a Colorado rancher who calls the current system a disgrace to both Americans and foreigners, touts a 2012 poll showing that nearly three-quarters of voters agree that “it is not possible to have absolute border control without a better system for handling guest workers.”

Under one variation of Krieble’s plan, the U.S. government would conduct criminal background checks of applicants and contract with private employment agencies such as Kelly Services to establish offices in countries that today supply the most illegal labor. As Peter Roff of U.S. News & World Report explained it:

A high-tech system using the latest in biometrics [would] identify who comes in, where they go, and when they are supposed to leave. This would also solve the problems of how to create a guest-worker program that allows for circular migration that takes the change in seasons as well as the number of available jobs into account.

Representative Steve Pearce (R., N.M.) has a similar plan that would allow illegal immigrants to become citizens, but they would first have to return to their home country and wait in line there.

A lot of complications need to be worked out, but the Krieble approach recognizes the reality that border enforcement can work only if we accept the demands of our economy and provide a legal path for the workers many American employers rely on. It worked a half-century ago with the bracero program, when we had much less ability to monitor people and curb abuses. The crisis on the border should compel serious action instead of posturing. Those who continue to resist realistic reform are more than “one step behind.” They are creators of the crisis.

The GOP Must Move on Immigration Now

An immigration deal is coming, so Republicans need to have a plan.

No more time to wait.

By Peter Roff

U.S. News and World Report

The current crisis on the U.S.-Mexican border is as clear a signal as any that Congress needs to take up meaningful immigration reform and now, before the problems get any worse. The fact that it hasn’t is an exercise in political cowardice that has members who ought to know better – and often do – afraid to take a bold stand in favor of what is needed lest they get blasted by dissonant tea partiers, cranky talk radio hosts and retromingent racists to whom anything other than “round them up and send them home” is regarded as amnesty.

The longer Republicans in the House dither, the more time President Obama and the Democrats have to make their case that reform that does not lead to citizenship is not reform. What will the GOP do if Obama finds a way to waive his magic pen and make citizens – or at least permanent residents – of all the young men and women milling about in Northern Mexico around Texas seeking family reunification or fleeing the violence associated with Central and South American drug cartels? Will any of them stand up for the “rule of law” then, as images on the nightly news tug at the heartstrings of Middle America?

It’s doubtful, which is why the GOP needs to move a bill to the House floor before the August recess. This is not impossible – outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in the recent primary had little to do with his perceived support for comprehensive reform, and bringing it up is not working as a scare tactic anymore.

The elements for real reform that will work are already there. Finish the fence. Seal the border. Establish a high-tech system using the latest in biometrics to identify who comes in, where they go and when they are supposed to leave. This would also solve the problems of how to create a guest worker program that allows for circular migration that takes the change in seasons as well as the number of available jobs into account. (The Red Card idea, proposed by reform activist Helen Krieble, is a good place to start.) And it would make it easier to find and deport the people who come into the United States over either border and for whatever reason who decide not to leave when their visas expire.

There are other components that could be included in a reform measure that could pass and should get the president’s signature – maybe increasing the number of high-skilled workers in the sciences and engineering who can get visas each year, while streamlining the process. The point is, reform is going to happen sooner than most people think. If the Democrats lose the Senate in the November election, then Majority Leader Harry Reid and the president have every reason to cut a deal in a lame duck session of Congress. The sooner the GOP lays down a meaningful marker that shows what it’s for, the better the eventual deal – and there will be one – will be.

A lot of people don’t believe that, don’t even like to entertain the idea, but if wishes were horses then beggars would ride. The days when the GOP could simply be the party of “no” have come to an end. With control of Congress looming and a presidential election just about two years off, the Republicans have to demonstrate they are once again the party of hope, growth and opportunity – a party of ideas that will benefit everyone from the smallest child to the oldest person, from the working class single mom to the retired financier – if it wants to remain relevant. Party leaders fail to take up this challenge at their own peril.

America’s Immigration Opportunity

By Steve Moore and Derrick Morgan

The Heritage Foundation

What has made America the most prosperous nation in history? Many other countries are as bountifully blessed with natural resources, so it’s not just a matter of dumb luck.

America’s success springs mainly from two sources: our system of government and our human capital.

Historically, our government has promoted trade while keeping taxes and regulations relatively light. Moreover, it has preserved the rule of law: protecting private property, securing basic freedoms and upholding contracts.

Our people are critical as well. “American ingenuity” is a phrase recognized around the world. Ours is a nation of inventive minds, possessed of an innate can-do, entrepreneurial spirit. Immigrants are self-selected on the basis of courage, worth ethic, ambition, drive and a yearning for freedom – economic religious or political.

It is not too simplistic to say that the U.S. imports many of the best and the brightest minds and the hardest-working people from the rest of the world. This is evidenced by the high percentage of the foreign born who start businesses (from Google to corner grocery stores), are valedictorians of their high school graduating class, win scientific awards and own patents.

The combination of immigrant talent and home-grown ingenuity is a formula for economic growth and business creation. One must simply visit Silicon Valley or other high-tech corridors throughout the country to see this firsthand. The economic gains to the nation from legal immigrants with high levels of skills and unique talents are significant.

Sadly, our broken immigration debate is more about those who broke the law than about those playing by the rules and who are eager to contribute to our society.

A better legal immigration system is needed, along with a secure border and willingness to enforce workplace laws. Admission policies must encourage economic grown and assimilation, not encourage people to cross our borders illegally.

It makes sense to have some limit on immigration, as all countries do. Here is why. Obviously, we cannot take in the whole world with any hope of successful assimilation. Therefore, “We the People” must decide who to put on the path to citizenship and who should be disqualified.

Each year, we admit more immigrants on the track to permanent residency and citizenship than all other countries, only a few of which prioritize citizenship like we do.

Amnesty is not needed, however. We are a nation of laws, and those who enter the country illegally flout and degrade those laws. To allow illegal immigrants to jump ahead of those are playing by the rules undercuts the rule of law.

Another amnesty almost certainly will encourage more unlawful immigration. In 1986, Congress granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants. Today, we have 11 million.

Amnesty also will be costly, thanks to the welfare state. Compounding the problem, President Obama’s administration actively recruits people to sign up for food stamps and other government benefits.

Such practices make it all but impossible to maintain our tradition of opening our doors to the world’s poorest, something that cannot work when the government itself is busily adding immigrant families to welfare. Means-tested welfare programs at the state and federal levels now cost nearly $1 trillion a year.

This is why we need a pro-growth immigration admission policy so those most prepared to contribute to the economy and lessen the tax burden can navigate the system. This could include foreign graduates in engineering and sciences, H1B immigrants with special skills needed by industry and investor immigrants.

At the same times, industries – such as agriculture – that traditionally demand on migrant workers should be able to bring in temporary guest workers with minimal government regulation and hassles, assuming taxpayers are protected. Innovative solutions like Helen Krieble’s Red Card guest worker program provide a great start.

Even good ideas need to be pursued only at the right time, however.

Now is not the right time. President Obama has shown he has little interest in enforcing existing laws, especially on immigration. Senate Democrats already have said they will take any immigration bills the House passes and add amnesty in conference.

That means now is time for conservatives to develop an alternative vision, not legislation, on immigration that does not include amnesty.

Amnesty is a policy that proposes to fix a problem – illegal immigration – by rewarding those who created it.

We favor a smart policy that preserves our immigrant heritage, stresses assimilation and strategically promotes the nation’s economic interests.

Why Michigan Needs More Immigrants
Panel: Free market approaches to immigration reform

By Jarrett Skorup

Michigan Capitol Confidential

LANSING — In the most recent U.S. Census, Michigan was the only state to have a lower population and saw the largest economic decline in the nation compared with a decade earlier, but that can be solved with new immigration policies and work permits, a panel of experts said Tuesday.

The Issues & Ideas panel, “Free Market Approaches to Immigration Reform,” was hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and featured Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute; Bing Goei, a Grand Rapids businessman appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to head the Michigan Office for New Americans; and Helen Krieble, founder and president of The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

ll three agreed that more immigrants are needed in Michigan and across the nation and that elected officials need to make the issue a priority.

Krieble’s foundation created the “Red Card Solution,” a plan that curbs illegal immigration by offering non-citizen work permits that do not lead to citizenship.

She based her ideas on America’s founding principles: that all people are created equal; that limited government and free markets work best; and that businesses should be able to operate without endless interference from government.

“It bothers me that every time Congress talks about immigration it is about control by the government,” Krieble said. “The government is centrally planning the entire foreign labor market and … central planning does not work out very well.”

As an example, she pointed to the bureaucracy involved with adding foreign workers in high-need areas. It is expensive and time consuming because of government intervention. A market driven system that allows businesses to determine the need and fill it without government intrusion would solve many problems, she said.

The Red Card Solution is a guest worker program that is “not about immigration but about migration,” she said. There would not be a centrally planned quota system and workers would not be given citizenship, allowing the economic laws of supply and demand to work. The only two requirements for a foreign worker to be hired would be proof of a self-supporting job and no criminal background.

Nowrasteh focused more on low-skilled immigrants.

“The only section of law more complicated than the income tax is the immigration system,” he said.

There are currently 11 million to 12 million unauthorized immigrants in America, and about 42 percent of them entered the country lawfully, but overstayed. The reason they come, studies show, is that simply working in America gives them an average wage boost of 400 percent.

But if immigrants are not high skilled and get one of the few work permits that are given by the federal government, they have little chance of legally participating in the American dream. The current system harms them and the nation, he said.

“Immigrants are twice as entrepreneurial, which is remarkable considering how entrepreneurial Americans are,” Nowrasteh said. “They are [also] twice as likely to create jobs.”

Nowrasteh said that despite the fears of some people, studies show that the effect immigrants have on the wages of current residents is negligible. That’s because immigrants tend to be complementary workers who are either very high skilled (creating jobs) or very low skilled (in positions Americans are not taking).

Nowrasteh said another myth is that immigrants cost America huge amounts of money because of social services. When you add in the amount they pay, the net fiscal situation is around zero, he said. Poor immigrants actually use much less welfare than poor natives. As an example, he said, if natives used Medicaid at the same rate as immigrants, the program would be 42 percent smaller.

Nowrasteh’s proposed solution is to charge a tariff for a green card or work visa for people to come and to deny welfare programs to immigrants.

“Let’s build a wall around the welfare state, not the country,” Nowrasteh said.

“People are the most valuable resource,” he said, adding that human capital is a nation’s most valuable resource. “Free marketeers should support immigration reform that rolls back government involvement in the economy.”

Goei said Gov. Snyder wants to focus on immigration because there are not enough native born students to fill the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs Michigan has and is projected to have in the future.

“We have 26,000 international students. Out of those, about 10,000 are in STEM degree work,” Goei said. “Businesses cannot wait until Congress does something, so the state is doing what it can now.”

Michigan is requesting 50,000 extra visas to repopulate Detroit, which Goei said would help boost the state’s economy. The governor also is asking for Michigan to be designated as a regional center to give it more flexibility for the program.

Goei said that from 1995 to 2005, 33 percent of Michigan high-tech companies were started by immigrants.

Currently, high-skilled immigrants are coming to America and getting degrees or working here for a short time and then returning home. Goei said there is a 10-year waiting line even for high-skilled workers.

“That’s a long time to wait for someone to come here, have to leave, and wait before contributing to our economy,” Goei said.

DeMint: Why should we trust Barack Obama on immigration reform?

By Jim DeMint

President Obama has been quite up-front about it: he refuses to enforce laws he dislikes and unilaterally changes others without the consent of Congress. The Supreme Court may soon have to decide the constitutionality of all this but, in the meantime, many are wondering why Congress would believe they can trust the president to work with them in good faith on any issue.

Still more are scratching their heads over the notion that now, when Obamacare is hurting millions and the economy is still sputtering, Congress should put off dealing with those problems and, instead, work with Mr. Obama on immigration.

I’ve travelled the country, and no one seems to understand it. No wonder people are so fed up with Washington.

According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 63 percent say our nation is headed in the wrong direction. The most recent Pew Survey found that 80 percent of Americans now distrust the federal government.

How bad is that? When Pew first asked that question during the Eisenhower administration, only 23 percent of Americans distrusted their government. Even at end of the Vietnam War and during Watergate, distrust was only 60 percent. Americans do not think politicians are listening to them.

What are Americans saying about immigration? Only 3 percent think it is a top priority. They are far more concerned about the economy, health care, debt, spending, and government corruption.

When asked about immigration, they say they want to see the border secured and our current laws enforced. Yet only 5 percent think it is very likely that a new immigration law will actually seal the border.

Amnesty, we know, doesn’t solve our immigration problems and is unpopular with the American people. Cobbling it together with more popular, commonsense policies to sweeten the deal isn’t a new strategy. In 1986, Congress promised workplace enforcement and border security in exchange for an amnesty of 3 million. Those promises were never adequately kept, however, and today we have an unlawful population of more than 10 million.

Last year the Senate passed a 1,100-page bill that included immediate amnesty along with promises of reform and security in the future. Republican leaders in the House say they won’t take up the Senate bill. But that promise got harder to believe last week, when they released “Standards for Immigration Reform.” The “Standards” follow the same tack as the Senate bill: fix every problem with a comprehensive approach.

The threshold question lawmakers should ask is: Why trust President Obama to enforce new immigration laws when he is not enforcing the current ones? The president has a constitutional duty to enforce our laws. And here, Mr. Obama is derelict.

He decided unilaterally to cease enforcing immigration law with respect to those who came here unlawfully as children. By any reasonable standard, that should have required a change in the law. Instead, the president issued a memo.

By now policymakers ought to understand: President Obama is not a reliable partner and cannot be relied upon to enforce our immigration laws.

Are there common-sense solutions to our immigration problems? Of course. We can create a workable legal immigration system, secure the border, and enforce current workplace laws, for starters. Congress could consider ideas for a practical, temporary worker program such as that being promoted by businesswoman Helen Krieble, called the Red Card Solution.

But can we trust the president to abide by any deal on immigration? No. President Obama has shown disdain for Congress and the law. He has made a mockery of the Founders’ separation of power.

The failures of the Obama administration are now very much in evidence, and the American people will find it hard to believe that the opposition party has decided to rush in and rescue the president from his own failed policies.

As policymakers in Congress consider what to do this year, they would be wise to focus on the economy, jobs and health care – Americans’ top priorities.

Trusting the president to enforce new immigration laws while he ignores the current ones is a losing bet, and an unpopular one at that.

Jim DeMint is the president of The Heritage Foundation.

The 4 Major Challenges The U.S. Economy Faces In 2014

By Alejandro Chafuen
Forbes Op-Ed

During the year that is just starting the U.S. economy will face major challenges. The pressures built in health care, monetary, and immigration policies are likely to lead to decisions that can have a major impact on economic growth. There are always chances for additional positive and negative shocks. A faster move to freer trade with Europe would be a positive shock. A liberalization of North American energy markets, including the approval of the Keystone pipeline and continued progress in Mexico is another. Negative shocks can come not only from the economic arena, but also for national or international security threats, such as acts of terror or wars affecting the U.S. or its major allies. Think Tanks are playing an important role in most of these battles.

The implementation of “Obamacare” or the “Affordable Care Act,” expanding government control of citizen’s health, will again be the major battle. The US health sector is approaching 3 trillion dollars, or over 17% of total GDP. Any major change in that market has huge implications. Research focused think tanks that have been at the vanguard in proposing market oriented solutions include the National Center for Policy Analysis, NCPA, Dallas, Texas, and the Pacific Research Institute, PRI, California. NCPA, led by John Goodman, started as a health policy center with the University of Dallas. It was thirty years ago this month when NCPA published a plan to use individually owned “medical IRAs” to tackle Medicare problems. Goodman and Richard Rahn, then chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal describing the proposal, focused on the much needed personal ownership and portability. Sally Pipes, President of PRI, uses her outstanding knowledge of the weaknesses of the Canadian socialized model to promote alternatives for the US health care market. The Manhattan Institute, the only market oriented think tank to endorse the expansion of Medicare under President George W. Bush, also remains very active in the field, especially promoting the public/private solutions of Medicare Part D.

Those who study economic history understand that few things are more damaging to an economy than unsound money. Germany in the 1920’s and Argentina are often mentioned as examples. Smaller think tanks that cherish their independence from the banking elites have led the fight against the destruction of the dollar and the manipulation of money and credit. Some are old like the Committee for Monetary Research and Education, CMRE, which has championed sound money for half a century, and the Lehrman Institute. Others are of recent founding, such as the American Principles Project, which like Lehrman, promotes a gold standard. The Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, has stayed faithful to sound money since its founding in 1982. Their work will be complemented by an enhanced effort by the Cato Institute to monitor the Fed and monetary policy. Cato’s latest 2013 monetary annual monetary conference presented a solid program with renowned speakers describing the economic and political pitfalls of paper money. The battle for sound money also includes efforts by editorial boards, Forbes comes to mind, as well as scholars, such as Nobel Laureate Robert Mundell and Allan H. Meltzer, President of the Mont Pelerin Society. Meltzer is scheduled to testify next week in Congress where he will repeat his warnings about the dangers of the current monetary policies and propose better anchors. A few free-market economists are more concerned by potential deflation. They argue that the “fundamentals” have changed pointing to a higher demand for cash-balances from the new emerging middle class in China, India and others. This higher demand neutralizes some of the monetary expansion.

Immigration reform is another battlefront with major economic implications. The “Red Card” proposal based on two year work permits handled by the private sector, with the government performing an oversight for security purposes, should offer enough common ground. The proposal comes from Helen Krieble, an intellectual entrepreneur working from her private foundation, rather than from think tanks. In some of their papers, Heritage and Cato, which produced studies with widely divergent estimates of the cost and benefits of immigration, have endorsed relevant aspects of Krieble’s proposal.

Free trade is a great engine for growth. The most important treaty under consideration is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, an effort to liberalize trade between the European Union and the United States. While the effort to approve NAFTA counted with large network of free-market think tanks led by the Fraser Institute which worked to support its passage, no similar effort exists to promote TTIP. The potential for wealth creation of these pacts hinge upon agreeing to build them around the best possible common denominators, the lowest tariffs, and the simplest and less burdensome regulations and non-tariff barriers. Conservative and free-market leaders have been lukewarm in their support as they fear that the current administration favors the European welfare state and regulatory models and that the deal might end up promoting more interventionism. A TTIP agreement which truly enhances free-trade would send a very positive signal and would likely spur further liberalization.

A 2014 with market-based health care and immigration reform, with freer trade and a sounder monetary policy would lead to a very happy new economic year. But I am not so optimistic. I expect that president Obama and his administration will try to make their health proposal work at all costs. I doubt that think tanks will be able to make much progress against the Fed and the powerful interest that rely on their policies. Immigration remains so contentious, that progress will be difficult. The US-EU trade treaty has more chance for progress. Let’s celebrate anyway a new year and join the effort of think tanks trying to liberate the entrepreneurial spirit from so many government shackles.

New Polling Finds Immigrants Value Legalization More Than Citizenship

New polling by PEW Research Center declare Hispanics and Asian Americans value legalization more than citizenship. The majority of those polled by PEW said they find legalization and living/working in the U.S. without fear of deportation more important than having a pathway to citizenship. This news coming just after Congress has recessed for the year, but can help allow for more legislative options when they return in January. See the full report here.

PEW also reported of the Hispanic immigrants who legally reside in the U.S. today, only 44% have become citizens, the remainder have chosen to be legal permanent residence. The new research refutes the claims of some members of Congress who have said immigrants are fighting for citizenship, and that is the reform they desire.

Los Angeles Times was the first to report the new polling results on the morning of December 19th. LA Times stating, “55% of Latinos and 49% of Asian Americans rate being able to live and work in the U.S. legally as more important than citizenship.”

The new poll results support previous findings by PEW. In February of this year PEW found that two-thirds of the 5.4 million legal immigrants from Mexico had not yet taken the steps to become U.S. citizens. In fact, only 36% of those immigrants have been naturalized as U.S. citizens. The full report can be found here.

This report suggests creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the country now is not the best approach for immigration reform, as many of the immigrants would likely choose not to become citizens. A better solution, however, would be to legalize these residence to remove the threat of deportation and allow the immigrants to work and pay taxes in the United States.

A U.S. Worker Shortage Calls For ‘Red Card’ Immigration Reform

By Benjamin Powell
Forbes Op-Ed

Immigration policy is one of the most economically significant and politically divisive issues there is, often producing far-more passion than reason.

Just the other day, on Oct. 8, for example, more than 150 protesters, including eight members of Congress, were arrested for blocking traffic on a busy Capitol Hill street during an immigration reform demonstration. While there was a lot of commotion, the complex issues involved were barely discussed.

U.S. immigration policy, since 1965, has restricted the number of foreign workers through a quota system that allocates the workers across various visa categories.

In 2013, the quota for permanent employment-based green cards was 140,000. In addition, the system provided for 65,000 temporary work visas for highly skilled workers in specialty occupations (H1-B visas) and 66,000 H2-B visas for temporary and seasonal workers. An additional 20,000 visas for advanced degree -holders were exempted from the caps, as were another category of visas (the H2-A program) for temporary agricultural workers.

The problem with the system is that it’s arbitrary and doesn’t meet the needs of employers, as our recent research confirmed.
In each of the last 10 years, we found, employer demand has exceeded the supply of H1-B visas for high-skill workers. The visas become available on April 1 for the following fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1. In fiscal 2013, the government ran out of H1-B visas in less than a week. Indeed, only twice in the last decade has the supply of H1-B visas lasted for more than half the fiscal year; in both instances, this occurred during economic downturns.

Similarly, in four of the last 10 years the demand for H2-B visas also has exceeded the cap.
The H2-A program, for temporary agricultural workers, has faltered for different reasons. Before visas can be issued to guest workers, this program requires potential employers to prove that no native-born workers are willing to take their jobs. But that’s almost impossible to prove. As a result, only about 30,000 foreign workers are in the United States under this plan.

The need, however, is much greater. The Western Growers Association, for example, has estimated that 80,000 acres of fruit and vegetable production moved out of California because of labor shortages. Perhaps the greatest evidence of the program’s inadequacy is the large number of illegals involved in agricultural work.

The Senate immigration reform bill would improve the existing system, nearly tripling the current H1-B visa cap and creating a new “W visa” for low-skilled workers – setting the initial cap at 20,000, increasing over time to as many as 200,000.
Despite these improvements, the bill still involves government micromanagement of the immigrant labor market, mandating visa caps for particular industries and dictating wage rates for particular job categories. Construction related visas, as an example, would be limited to 15,000 – in an industry employing some 5.8 million – and foreign crop harvesters would have to be paid exactly $9.17 per hour.
Government planners have no way of knowing how many foreign workers an industry requires or the correct wage rate. Market forces need to set prices and quantities for labor markets to function efficiently.

There is a better way. It’s known as the “Red Card” guest-worker plan, an idea being promoted by Denver’s Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.
Rather than building border fences to keep job-seekers out, or regulating the number of workers through quotas, the Red Card plan would base the number and allocation of visas on labor market demand.

The plan is seen as a simple way for guest workers and their families “to legally come to the U.S. for specific jobs and for a specific period of time.” Each worker would be required to undergo a background check, would be issued an electronic smart card, or Red Card, so employers and law enforcement officials could keep track of them, and would be required to return home at the end of their employment.

Private employment agencies would serve as intermediaries, opening offices overseas and matching available workers with available jobs.

Border Lawmaker Woos Latinos, on His Terms?

August 27, 2013

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Representative Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican, was up early last Thursday morning, tapping along to a mariachi beat and speaking what he calls West Texas Spanish.

“Mi madre is a teacher en Espanish,” Mr. Pearce told Alejandra Soto, the host of a Spanish-language drive-time radio show in southern New Mexico.

During the 10-minute interview, Mr. Pearce and Ms. Soto gamely talked past each other – he in English, she in Spanish – as he earnestly tried to answer her questions about immigration. They seemed to understand each other only some of the time.

“Vamos, vamos, let’s go!” Mr. Pearce said as Ms. Soto talked over him in energetic, rapid-fire Spanish, revving up her morning listeners.

Mr. Pearce’s dogged outreach to Hispanics is one of the reasons he has continued to win re-election in New Mexico’s Second Congressional District – where Mexico borders to the south and Hispanics make up 52 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau – despite his opposition to a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

Mr. Pearce, 66, embodies the challenge, as well as the real possibility, of pushing an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws through a Republican-controlled House when Congress returns in September.

Many Republicans see Mr. Pearce as a model for how their party can attract Hispanic voters. He is responsive to constituents when they ask for help and hears out even those he disagrees with on the question of immigration. Among non-Hispanic Republicans, Mr. Pearce represents the most heavily Hispanic district.

Advocates working on behalf of immigrants, however, view Mr. Pearce as a target, as someone who, based on the demographics of his district alone, should be supporting a path to citizenship and could pay a steep political price if he does not.

“How he votes on this is going to be one of those defining votes that will either dog him or help him throughout his career,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a group pushing for an overhaul of the immigration system. “He’s facing a growing Latino vote, a district in a state that’s trending blue, and if he gets to ‘no’ on immigration reform, that’s going to really hurt him.”

Mr. Pearce says he wants to fix what he calls a broken immigration system, and he sees himself as a border-state pragmatist.

“One side says everybody just gets citizenship, the other side says deport them or put them in jail, whatever. And I’m saying there is another alternative that would allow families to stay together, that would allow people to work, that just would not make them citizens,” Mr. Pearce said last week in response to a question at a town hall-style meeting in Deming. “Because that makes me very nervous as a policy.”

Later in the evening, he added: “I think that the plan I’m suggesting is the compromise plan. It’s somewhere out between kick them out and give them full citizenship.”

Mr. Pearce’s proposal would create a guest worker program, which would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country as long as they were working. But it would not provide citizenship to those workers over time. He would allow illegal immigrants to become citizens, but they would first have to return to their home country and wait in line there.

“You can’t get control of the borders if you tell people you can come here illegally and you can work until you work your way to the front of the line,” Mr. Pearce said in an interview on Thursday. “The whole world would want to do it that way. Who would want to wait and do it properly?”

Despite Mr. Pearce’s strong opposition to a path to citizenship, advocates of an overhaul still believe that he might be persuadable, and various groups have descended on his district over the August break, holding marches and protests and filling his public meetings. “They simply realize that this is a 34 percent Republican district, and they’re hoping to bring enough pressure that would change me,” he said.

At a meeting on Thursday night in Las Cruces, advocates and activists packed the room, many having marched over from a local church. The crowd was hot and restless; people fanned themselves, and toddlers squirmed and mewled on their mother’s laps.

The questions came in both English and Spanish and frequently returned to the topic of immigration from both ends of the spectrum. “What are you people going to do about immigration?” one man demanded. “It’s getting out of hand, you can tell that right here tonight.”

Other attendees, many of whom belonged to the Border Network for Human Rights, an immigration advocacy and human rights organization, worried aloud about the “militarization” of the border and said immigrants without documents lived in constant fear, with families being split up through deportations.

Mr. Pearce answered their questions for 90 minutes, calmly giving variations on the same response. “I agree that it is not good for people to live in fear,” he said. “We need to solve the problem. I’m saying just solve the problem by giving guest worker permits to those people who would work.”

Mr. Pearce, a mild-mannered Vietnam War veteran who was a baseball catcher at New Mexico State, grew up poor, the son of a sharecropper who went broke when Mr. Pearce was a toddler.

He says that he is among the most conservative House Republicans. He was one of 12 Republicans who voted against re-electing Representative John A. Boehner as speaker. And he opposed both the Dream Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for immigrants brought here illegally as young children, and President Obama’s directive to stop deporting such “Dreamers.”

Still, with his talk of compromise, immigration is one of the few issues on which Mr. Pearce finds himself out of step with many of his conservative colleagues. For example, he said in the interview that he was willing to support a path to citizenship for the young immigrants, as long as doing so did not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.

At the meeting Thursday, he offered an undocumented student a similar answer, saying he was “sympathetic to the position of people like yourself” but urging the young questioner to “tell me how we don’t recreate the problem again.”

David Wasserman, the House editor for The Cook Political Report, said that “what’s remarkable about Pearce is that on most issues he’s one of the most conservative members. But his willingness to work towards an immigration bill is a sign of just how needed such legislation is in his district.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, visited Mr. Pearce’s hometown, Hobbs. Mr. Pearce says he spoke to Mr. Romney, who had already alienated Hispanics by suggesting a policy of “self-deportation,” for half an hour and urged him to reach out to and embrace Hispanics.

“I just think it was a killer mistake,” Mr. Pearce said of the Romney position. He estimates that he won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in his district last year, compared with the 27 percent that Mr. Romney won nationwide.

On Thursday evening after the meeting, Mr. Pearce stayed to shake hands and answer more questions, many from constituents who still wanted to persuade him to support a path to citizenship.

“He’s doing his best, I should admit that,” Monica Garcia of Las Cruces, a member of the Border Network for Human Rights, said as she watched Mr. Pearce mingle.

“But,” she added, “we’re not going anywhere.”

Center for Opportunity, Protection and Fairness Lauds New Mexico Congressman

August 30, 2013

Dick Wadhams

DENVER — A guest worker proposal by Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM) was lauded today by the Center for Opportunity, Protection and Fairness as a real immigration reform solution for border security.

“Congressman Steve Pearce is going beyond unworkable proposals on both sides of the immigration reform debate by giving businesses the ability to hire the workers they need while seriously addressing the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the United States,” said Helen Krieble, founder and president of the Center and author of the Red Card Guest Worker Permit proposal, “True border security cannot be achieved without a real guest worker program regardless of how many billions of dollars are spent on police and punitive measures on the border.”

Congressman Pearce discussed his guest worker proposal during an interview in the New York Times on August 27, 2013 that profiled him and his New Mexico district which borders Mexico and is 52 percent Hispanic:

“I think that the plan I’m suggesting is the compromise plan. It’s somewhere out between kick them out and give them full citizenship.”

Mr. Pearce’s proposal would create a guest worker program, which would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country as long as they were working. But it would not provide citizenship to those workers over time. He would allow illegal immigrants to become citizens, but they would first have to return to their home country and wait in line there.
“You can’t get control of the borders if you tell people you can come here illegally and you can work until you work your way to the front of the line there,” Pearce said in an interview on Thursday. “The whole world would want to do it that way. Who would want to wait and do it properly?”

Helen Krieble said Congressman Pearce is providing Republicans in Congress a serious, workable alternative to the Senate immigration reform bill which relies on unworkable caps on the number of guest workers allowed in the country and which would spend billions on border security.

The Center for Opportunity, Protection and Fairness advocates a free market, private sector approach to guest workers, the Red Card Guest Worker Permit proposal,, under any immigration reform plan.

The Immigration Debate is Missing the Point

By Helen Krieble
For Human Events
July 2, 2013

If we believe in freedom and opportunity, the current immigration bill is the antithesis.

Government has already taken from small business their right to control their private property and the health benefits they offer their employees. It will now encourage their employees to sue them and even show them how.

Now the government proposes to take over the entire foreign labor market. Employers cannot determine for themselves their foreign labor needs or the wages they can pay. There is no role for market forces or for the private sector. It is government, government, and more government – stepping into most small businesses telling owners who to hire, under what terms, and at great cost to the owners and to the American taxpayers. This bill is rife with special deals for special groups: lawyers, unions, big business and agriculture, among others, making a mockery of fairness and the concept that all men should be equal under the law. This huge expansion of government is yet another chain around the ankle of American small business.

The major flaws in the current bill are twofold. Foremost, for people already here illegally, there is only one path to legality – applying for citizenship. There is no path to legality for people who want a simple work permit and have no intention of becoming citizens. A work permit should require only two things: pass a national security database check and prove you have a self-supporting job. Instead, this bill grants immediate legal status to 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally – before they undergo a background check and without any job requirement. And they are put on a direct path toward citizenship, no matter how onerous the process is, or how long it takes.

The second major flaw relates to the future flow of workers. The government will continue to set caps on the number of visas based on “research” and unemployment figures. The projections already written into the bill are grossly inadequate, just as they are today, and will perpetuate foreigners coming across our borders illegally to fill jobs, and employers hiring them illegally to keep their doors open. Increasingly, government is deciding which businesses and even whole industries will be allowed to succeed and which it will cause to fail through these caps. This is the new face of tyranny.

The bill is filled with new and expanded bureaucracy. For example, the new agency it would create to determine the work visa caps for each industry is completely unnecessary. If the government wants to know how many workers are needed by each business, it should simply look at the jobs employers post on the new database, and count them.

Green cards and citizenship are the business of government, but hiring and firing workers is a business decision. That’s why simple non-immigrant work permits – with no citizenship involved – must be based on employer demand and implemented in the private sector. No bill being discussed addresses this obvious problem. If we still believe in freedom, opportunity, and limited government, Congress must reject this overpowering role of government, and recognize the vital role of businesses and individuals in immigration reform.

Helen Krieble chairs the Center for Opportunity, Protection and Fairness.

Let’s Institute A Market-Based System For Ambitious Immigrants Yearning For Freedom

By Alejandro Chafuen
June 19, 2013

In a debate as important as immigration, which impacts most aspects of public policy, we should welcome all honest voices. During these last months and weeks we have seen frequent rounds of name calling, statistical exaggerations, and stigmatization of opponents, which contribute little and might even obscure the need for sound reforms. These divisions exist also among those working at think tanks that share a devotion for the free enterprise system.

Almost everyone in the free-market conservative side applauded the work of Hernando de Soto of the Instituto Libertad y Democracia in Peru. De Soto popularized the use of the term “informal” or “extra-legal” to describe those who conduct economic activities without the required government licenses. He avoided the use of the word “criminal” or “illegal” when referring to street vendors and other micro-enterprises. Conservatives seldom use the language of illegality and criminality when referring to those who work outside the license system. They usually save those harsh words for those who not only are informal but also violate private property or other human rights. As an answer to the problem they usually push for reducing the barriers of entry to business by lowering regulations and the costs of permits. When discussing immigration, however, many conservatives take a complete opposite stance.

During a recent town-hall meeting convened by the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Sen. Rand Paul (KY), a self-described “Constitutionalist-Conservative” seemed to favor the use of a softer language: “We’re not talking about criminals we’re talking about immigrant workers caught up in a failed government visa program.”

If there is a war of words, there is also a war of numbers. Think tanks and scholars who are usually skeptical of economic forecasting models have been too ready to predict incredible hardships as well as almost permanent bonanza as result of the intended reforms. A study by the Heritage Foundation, for example, predicted a lifetime cost of 6.3 trillion dollars for the amnesty that would result from the immigration bill. On the other side, a study by Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, published by the Cato Institute states that immigration reform would increase U.S. GDP by $1.5 trillion in the ten years after enactment. Readers who are not expert in econometrics would find it impossible to discern which of these studies has more dubious assumptions. The “econometric” debate is difficult, but when one incorporates culture and politics, it becomes even more daunting. Political and cultural factors are even harder to measure than economics.

Some open-borders libertarians object to the principle that immigration should be “by invitation, not by invasion.” Being in agreement with this statement, usually associated with the thought of the late Murray N. Rothbard, does not mean that one is a racist or a xenophobe. Free-market advocates agree that the owner of a large estate, for example, should be able to “helicopter in” workers from another nation and pay full cost for his actions. They do not agree on the rights that those same employers have to shift those employees to the public arena once their job is done.

At the end of the 80’s, when I was just starting my professional career in the U.S., I received a visit from a prominent lawyer. Only later I learned that it was Ed Clark, former presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party. His running mate was David Koch. Without me asking he stated: “I have to confess that in the issue of immigration I depart from many libertarians. I live in Los Angeles and know that as long as we have this welfare state we can’t have open borders.”

One decade later, an outstanding collection of papers from an immigration symposium, with divergent opinions on this issue, was published by the Journal of Libertarian Studies, (Summer 1998). Renowned libertarian philosophers, historians and economists such as John Hospers, Tibor Machan, Walter Block, Ralph Raico, Jesús Huerta de Soto, Hans Herman Hoppe, and others, presented intelligent but divergent positions. They were able to have civilized debates. We should also be able to discuss this topic with the same freedom and respect.

The “red card” immigration reform proposals of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, issuing work permit visas handled by the private sector, avoids the problems described above. It has the advantage of complying with the “immigration by invitation” principle, it does not need to rely on debatable macroeconomic forecasting, and encourages the use of language in a manner appropriate to human dignity. Helen Krieble, who has championed these reforms for almost a decade, followed Rand Paul as speaker at the Latino Partnership program. She explained that her proposal is focused on those who want to come to work and does not create an automatic path to citizenship.

Rather than letting bureaucrats in the executive branch determine who has merit to receive a visa, the “red card” proposal would be mostly market based. Employers would set their needs and private employment agencies would monitor and approve the applicants. Krieble added that the current Senate proposal which considers possibilities for hundreds of waivers, for selecting community organizers, and establishes new agencies and trust funds, is an “invitation to cronyism and corruption.” It is Obamacare type central-planning applied to immigration, only more statist.

The “tired, poor, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” can make a major contribution to our country. Using an appropriate language which does not stigmatize the millions who just want to come and work, avoiding name calling and avoiding biased research and forecasting would be a big step forward in this important immigration discussion.

Alejandro Chafuen is the President of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

The Washington Times: Quotas v. the Marketplace

By Richard W. Rahn
for The Washington Times

The 867-page Senate immigration bill would create another new government agency, the Immigration and Labor Market Research Bureau, charged with determining the number of workers needed by a wide range of businesses in future years.

No government agency can ever be expected to know that. At best, it calls for educated guesswork, and at worst, political horse trading.

Government tracks economic activity and reports (after the fact) growth, unemployment, hiring, new job creation and other economic indicators. But it can never accurately predict what jobs might exist next year, or how many businesses may startup, expand, contract, or remain stable.

There is no central list of what all the businesses and jobs in America are, much less how many of each there are, and what kind of workers fill them all. Central planning of the national economy on that scale has never been attempted in the “free world” and it demonstrably never worked in the communist bloc.

The visa quotas set by the Senate bill have no relationship to the marketplace. Agriculture (currently unlimited) would get 337,000 visas; construction 15,000; high-tech industries 115,000; other specifically named industries up to 200,000 (unskilled category). Businesses that don’t fit into these defined categories are likely to get none because of the high demand.

The current system is based on that same flawed premise. For instance, the number of H-2B (seasonal unskilled) visas is statutorily capped at 66,000, even though there are several million such workers in the U.S. (which is why most are working illegally). That cap was also based on politics, not on any relationship to the marketplace.

Congress can never repeal the law of supply and demand. If they only allow 200,000 guest workers and the economy needs a million, the rest will continue to come illegally – perpetuating the very problem Congress is trying to solve.

America’s economy is powered by the creative ideas and productivity of businesses, not by government. Artificial restraints on hiring will continue to hinder economic growth and will not solve the illegal immigration problem.

The New York Times: Latino Groups Warn Congress to Fix Immigration, or Else

By Julia Preston

The nation’s largest Latino organizations warned Congress on Wednesday that they will keep a report card during the immigration debate next year, with plans to mobilize their voters against lawmakers who do not support a comprehensive immigration bill.

At a news conference here, seven Latino groups and one labor union were showing their muscle, after the record turnout of Hispanic voters in the November elections played a pivotal role in President Obama’s re-election victory.

Janet Murguía, the president of N.C.L.R., also known as the National Council of La Raza, said the election had been a “game-changer” that conclusively “made the political case for a bipartisan solution” on immigration.

“We have worked to build our power and now we intend to use it,” Ms. Murguía said. “The bottom line,” she said, “is that Latino voters went to the polls with the economy on their minds but with immigration reform in their hearts.”

The leaders made it clear they expect quick action in 2013. They said the president and Congress should take up an immigration bill soon after Mr. Obama’s inauguration in January, with an eye toward completing passage of legislation by August.

The leaders said they would continue a joint campaign they led this year to naturalize Latino immigrants and to register and mobilize Latino voters. They said they would send results from the report card to those voters, to galvanize them during the debate and to guide their choices in the midterm elections in 2014.

“Make no mistake, we will be watching,” said Eliseo Medina, international secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, which led one of the most extensive Latino voter drives. The report card will show “who stood with us and who stood against us” on immigration reform, Mr. Medina said.

Mr. Obama has said he intends to move quickly on immigration next year, after Congress comes to some resolution on the year-end fiscal crisis and other budget issues. A host of Republicans have come forward since the election to say their party should take a new course on immigration, after Mitt Romney drew only 27 percent of the Latino vote.

Republican leaders who have studied voting statistics are concerned that their party’s chances to regain the White House will dwindle if they cannot attract more Latinos. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos will account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in the numbers of eligible voters in the country between now and 2030. By that year, the center predicts, 40 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote, nearly double the 23 million eligible today.

The leaders said Latinos were spurred to the polls by the hard-line positions that Mr. Romney and other Republicans took on immigration.

“We realized that people were attacking us personally,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino, a voter mobilization group. The Latino groups will focus on lawmakers in states and districts where their voters can make a difference. For those who do not support reform, Ms. Kumar said, “in 2014 it may not look pretty for them.”

Latino leaders argued that Washington has done enough to bolster enforcement against illegal immigration.

“We can no longer see enforcement-only policies moving through Congress,” said Chris Espinosa, national advocacy director for the Hispanic Federation. “We have secured our borders, now it’s time to get to other elements of immigration reform.”

The leaders said they seek a single comprehensive bill, rather than several bills addressing legalization for groups of illegal immigrants, like young people or farmworkers. They said they would insist on a path to citizenship for all 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, rather than a temporary legal status that does not offer an eventual chance to naturalize.

The news conference also included leaders from the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.

Mr. Medina, expressing some of the optimistic bravado Latinos are feeling, promised a “massive” grass roots campaign next year. “It’s going to be a doozy,” he said.

“Failure is not an option,” Mr. Medina said. “Comprehensive immigration reform is going to happen. Whether it will be over the political bodies of some of the current members of Congress,” he said, “only they can decide.”

The Daily Caller: “Gang of Eight” Analysis

By Neil Munro, White House Correspondent
for The Daily Caller

The Senate’s “Gang of Eight” has released a new version of the immigration bill that contains 999 references to waivers, exemptions and political discretion.

The revised 867-page bill contains multiple changes from the first 844-page version, released April 18, but Democrats have not announced any delay to the committee review of the complex bill that begins next week.

The bill includes roughly 1.14 waivers or exemptions per page. By comparison, the 2,409-page Obamacare law includes 0.78 waivers and exemptions per page.

The Obamacare law contains 1,882 mentions of “unless,” “notwithstanding,” “except,” “exempt,” “waivers,” “discretion” and “may.” “Waiver” is mentioned 209 times in the law.

The new draft of the immigration bill — which will allow officials much control over the supply and cost of labor needed by American companies — has 85 mentions of “unless,” 150 uses of “except,” 18 inclusions of “exempt,” 92 mentions of “waiver,” 42 offers of “discretion,” 47 use of “notwithstanding” and 618 uses of “may” in the 876-page bill.

The Daily Caller subtracted mentions of “may not” from both bills’ final tally of exemptions and options.

President Barack Obama backs the bill, and told reporters Tuesday that it “is going to be a historic achievement.” 

The bill has been crafted by eight senators, led by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the third-ranked Democrat in the Senate.

Alex Conant, a spokesman for Sen. Marco Rubio, the leading GOP supporter of the pending immigration bill, did not respond when asked by email if Rubio will ask for a delay to let his fellow GOP senators and their staffers read and understand the new version.

Since January, Rubio has declared that senators and outside opponents of the bill will have plenty of time to review the bill’s contents and to urge changes.

“Senator Rubio has said from the outset that we will not rush this process, and that begins at the committee level,” Conant told The Washington Post April 12.
“The Judiciary Committee must have plenty of time to debate and improve the bipartisan group’s proposal. … We believe that the more public scrutiny this legislation receives, the better it will become,” Conant said.
“We don’t see anything really coming to the [Senate] floor before, at the earliest, sometime in May,” McCain told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren April 11.
“We want to give it plenty of time.”

Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for the Judiciary Committee, declined Wednesday to say if the Democratic-run committee would delay the bill’s review.

Instead, she forwarded April 25 remarks by committee chairman Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.
“When we next meet, the bill will have been publicly available for three weeks. So before we vote on any aspect of it we and the public will have had the bill for some time,” he said.
The bill is extremely complex.

For example, there are 47 mentions of the term “notwithstanding,” each of which creates an exemption to the bill or to existing law. On page 339 of the new bill, a paragraph requires the amnesty be extended to illegals who voluntarily left the United States or were deported.
“Notwithstanding section 212(a)(9) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(9)), an alien’s application for an immigrant visa shall be considered if the alien was excluded, deported, removed, or departed voluntarily before the date of the enactment of this Act,” says the paragraph.

Another section allows the families of deported illegals, including family members who never visited the United States, to apply for the amnesty.

The limited-immigration group NumbersUSA has estimated that 33 million extra people would be able to apply to live in the United States because of the immigration bill, under the terms of the original draft.

The group — which wants to reduce the current annual immigration rate of 1 million — has not released an estimate of how many people could arrive under the new draft.

Advocates for the bill have highlighted at least one change in the new version, which is the addition of language that is said to plug a gap created by the bill’s immediate elimination of the current E-Verify system and its projected creation of a new E-Verify system. E-verify is used by employers to gauge whether a job applicant has the right to work in the United States.

Americas Majority: Immigration, a Misspecified “Problem”

By John Altevogt
for Americas Majority

If there is one thing that all sides can agree on in the multi-faceted debate over immigration it is the intransigence of all sides in the debate. It is my contention that the main reason for this rigidity is that the problem has been misstated and that owing to that misstatement the most rational “solution” thus far has been a de facto policy of benign neglect. Indeed, I would argue that trying to break this impasse without adequately defining the problem will simply lead to a cyclical reoccurrence of the current situation no matter which side prevails in the legislative battle.

My argument is that we do not have an immigration problem, what we do have are labor shortages in key industries such as construction, agriculture and hospitality caused by misguided entitlement programs that allow potential domestic laborers to avoid undesirable positions. The shortages created by the unintended consequences of those entitlement programs have, in turn, found their solution in a black market supply of undocumented labor primarily from the Hispanic countries to our south.

Therefore, the correct causal chain is the dysfunctions of the entitlement system, followed by labor market shortages, followed by foreign migration to fill those shortages.

Seen in this light, immigration is not a problem to be solved, but indeed, a very useful solution to another problem we do not seem to have the political will to solve. Seen in this light, we have a very logical explanation for the mystery as to why Chambers of Commerce, small business owners and many in the agricultural community have turned their backs on conservative candidates who take hardline stances on immigration. In a nutshell, they’re bad for business.

So what is it that makes illegal immigration a “problem” instead of a useful solution?

In Immigration Wars, written by Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick much anti-immigration sentiment is attributed to anticipated increases in the cost of entitlements. According to Bush “If the opportunity to immigrate is decoupled from welfare entitlements, and if the states are given broad latitude to determine eligibility for or offset the costs of such programs, it likely will increase public support for immigration reform…” These thoughts were reinforced by the Senate Budget Committee’s Republican staff report opposing the latest immigration proposal by the so-called “Gang of Eight” suggesting that it would add trillions to the cost of entitlements.

If we now modify our previous causal model to include the alleged impact of immigration we wind up with a cyclical model wherein dysfunctions in the entitlement system create labor market shortages, followed by foreign migration to fill those shortages, creating increased demands for entitlements. No matter where we place entitlements in this model, the problem is clearly not immigration; the problem is our system of entitlements.

Once we understand the role entitlements play in the immigration equation both the folly and impetus of current proposals become evident.

That a solution has not been found to the immigration “problem” is certainly not from a lack of trying. While comprehensive “reform” packages have floundered in Congress, primarily conservative states have put together various packages in an attempt to overcome the gridlock in Washington. These packages tend to be more limited in scope than the national legislation given Constitutional constraints placed on the ability of specific states to enforce a not only interstate, but international policy matter.

Of the state laws, there are two basic approaches. Most legislation at the state level has focused almost exclusively on enforcement only legislation. Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma were early leaders promoting this approach. Common features of this legislation involved punitive measures aimed at those employing undocumented workers, utilization of the E-Verify system to eliminate migrants from the labor force and laws regarding procedures for law enforcement to use during contacts with suspected illegal immigrants. While portions of these bills have managed to squeak through legal oversight only the E-Verify system has had consistent victories in the courts.

What is significant, but seemingly oblivious to the conservative proponents of this legislation, is the nature of the opposition. Take for instance the lawsuit against Oklahoma’s HB1804. The suit was filed by various Oklahoma restaurant, hotel and lodging associations, the Chambers of Commerce of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

These are not organizations that have been captured by the far-left. This is rational, pro-business behavior once we properly specify our model and understand that black market migration is first and foremost a solution to the economic problem of labor force shortages. The more successful enforcement only legislation is in terms of discouraging migration without encouraging concomitant reductions in our domestic welfare rolls, the worse off we are economically. The business community understands that explicitly. Indeed, farmers in Alabama are already struggling to find sufficient labor since the passage of their highly restrictive immigration law.

The underlying assumptions of the enforcement only model are that a) illegal immigrants in this country could be driven out by stringent enforcement methods, and b) that there would be no impact on the economy if these efforts were successful. A third political assumption was made that enforcement only legislation would be wildly popular and, at worst, would have no negative consequences. For the most part, all three were wrong and all three mistakes could have been predicted had the model been accurately specified to begin with.

Perhaps realizing the futility of enforcement only legislation, or perhaps guided by a sense of compassion for, or at least a recognition of the usefulness of, those already here some conservatives began to think about more comprehensive legislation that at least examined the issue of how to deal with those who were here. Among the most significant of those efforts was the legislation passed in 2011 by the Utah legislature.

In 2011 four bills regarding Utah’s black market labor force were passed into law by the state legislature. Of the four two were relatively unique to Utah. The first, HB466, was an attempt to establish a partnership between Utah and a Mexican state to allow workers to come to Utah using federal visas. The goal of this bill was to eliminate a black market labor force by creating a legitimate path to temporary international migration. The second bill, HB469, allows citizens of Utah to sponsor immigrants. These were added to two other more familiar policy applications to create a comprehensive “Utah Solution”.

HB497, an enforcement only bill, requires police to check the legal status of certain categories of arrestees, and the second, HB116, details a guest –worker program designed to become a model for national immigration reform.

What stood out was the attempt to create a humane model of immigration reform guided by principles set forth and endorsed by the LDS Church. Supporters went out of their way to point out that even the enforcement only provisions were not to be compared with other more restrictive legislation in Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri. While HB116 required undocumented workers to acquire permits by paying a fine, the permits allowed families to stay together, something other proposals explicitly oppose, or discourage.

The benefit of the “Utah Solution” is that it explicitly recognizes that migration is a solution to a labor force problem and it attempted to create a dynamic response to meet labor force demands through legitimate channels.

While the Utah model has influenced other proposals in states like California and Iowa, the Red Card Solution proposed by Helen Krieble is perhaps the most elegant solution offered thus far for a variety of reasons. The first is that Krieble recognizes that the solutions offered have not resonated because they are based on the false premise that we are trying to solve an immigration problem when, in fact, the real issue from both sides of the equation is the search for a dynamic, and temporary, response to specific labor market shortages.

Krieble’s solution recognizes the need to divide migration into two paths, both of them legal, one focused on permanent immigration while the second path would be dedicated to meeting the needs of temporary labor market demands. The true elegance of Krieble’s solution is that it allows the private sector to meet the demands of the second path through the self-funding mechanism of licensed international employment agencies.

Krieble’s model assumes that there will never be a sufficient supply of native labor willing to fill the jobs in some occupation classifications and that hence we will always have to rely on programs like the Red Card Solution to meet the demands for workers in those labor markets. To the extent that we lack the will to demand that able-bodied U.S. citizens work to provide for themselves she is certainly correct. As long as we fail to correct our flawed system of entitlements we will have not only the burden of caring for those who refuse to care for themselves we will have the additional burden of having to deal with the myriad problems associated with the labor force shortages their indolence creates.

As long as we protect our citizens from the burden of having to engage in work they consider to be too demeaning and undesirable we will have to rely on a the international migration of non-citizens to solve the problem.

Obviously, we believe that slashing entitlements will ameliorate current labor force shortages and dramatically reduce the demand for international migration. That said, we may never reach the point where the needs of certain labor markets will be met. During the 1950’s, prior to the explosion of entitlement programs during Lyndon Johnson’s so-called War on Poverty there were labor shortages that required international migration. The beauty of Krieble’s model is that it does not create a moribund government bureaucracy. Instead the heart of the process is private sector employment agencies that can grow, shrink and move dynamically in response to market demands.

The added benefit of a program such as the Red Card Solution is that there is no need for draconian legislation that alienates conservative legislators from a constituency whose elective affinities on religion, school choice, pro-life issues and free market solutions are right in line with theirs. As our late president, Richard Nadler stated in his 2009 National Review article “At some point, conservatives must reflect on how many allies, and how many issues, we are willing to sacrifice in a fey and futile attempt to get field workers, busboys, and nannies out of the country.”

American Spectator: Real Immigration Reform Requires Free Markets

By Ross Kaminsky
for American Spectator

Reading the Gang of Eight immigration bill brings many things to mind: sausage-making, Nixon, Obamacare…

Only in the United States Congress could a legislative provision entitled “Market-Based H-1B Visa Limits” actually mean that “the number of visas calculated under subparagraph (A) for any fiscal year shall not be less than 110,000 or more than 180,000.”

If you read even a few pages of the so-called Gang of Eight immigration bill trudging its way through Congress—a bill that contains many provisions as horrendous as that one—you can’t help but think of Otto von Bismarck’s famous sausage-making analogy and wonder “who the hell wrote this mess?” The answer, sadly but not surprisingly, is special interests, namely the Chamber of Commerce and big labor unions. Speaking on background for this article, an aide to a Senate Judiciary Committee member put it plainly: “Neither the Chamber nor the AFL-CIO is interested in a free market. The Chamber is interested in delivering for their big business cronies and labor is interested in protectionism. So they work out a secret deal together, and that’s how our legislation gets made.” It is a frightening shotgun marriage that embodies the old tale of two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. And guess who’s the lamb, my fellow citizen.

Much of the debate about the bill centers on legitimate questions of cost and border security along with illegitimate concerns such as unions’ desire to allow increased immigration only to the extent that they can capture more dues-paying members.

Some opponents of the current legislation yell “secure the border first!” (a not inappropriate suggestion that bill drafters claim to be working into the text) while some supporters, through crocodile tears, bemoan cruel racism in the dark hearts of those who have the temerity to think that borders matter at all. In a time of trillion-dollar deficits, hearken back to Milton Friedman’s warning that “It’s just obvious that you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.”

And while cost and national security are indeed of critical importance, there is an even bigger and so far not well-answered question: Does the proposed bill actually improve our immigration policy? More specifically, does it abide by a set of fundamental economic principles that history has proven are necessary for the success of any piece of public policy that impacts the economy—which, its other implications aside, immigration certainly does?

In short, does the plan move us substantially toward a free-market solution?

Small “breakthroughs” notwithstanding, quotas, price fixing, price controls and other forms of central planning have tended, with the obvious and disastrous exception of President Nixon’s wage and price controls, to be the province of Democrats. Republicans on the other hand at least claim to support free markets. They decry the expanding bureaucratic state that gives us, just as one example, the ultimate price control: Obamacare’s IPAB, famously termed a “death panel” by Sarah Palin.

And yet the proposed “bipartisan” Gang of Eight legislation includes the creation of a Soviet-sounding “Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research” that will spend millions of dollars each year “to determine the annual change to the numerical limitation for nonimmigrant aliens…to supplement the recruitment methods employers may use to attract such nonimmigrant aliens…to designate shortage occupations in zone 1 occupations, zone 2 occupations, and zone 3 occupations” and to generally micromanage what should be a contract freely made between any willing employer and willing employee.

Does anyone else feel like the Obamcare model of government control is being adapted, with little improvement, to immigration policy?

The legislation would be anti-capitalist enough if its quotas were sufficiently high to allow most of the likely demand for foreign labor by American employers. But this is a bill that limits visas for construction workers to 15,000 per year and those for “qualified immigrants seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of creating new businesses” to 10,000 per year. These are just two of the measure’s various “not to exceed” limitations, which fly in the face of economic liberty and historical commonsense.

To wit, when the demand for unskilled or semi-skilled workers exceeds government quotas, the laborers find a way to come here illegally. And when government prevents investors and high-skilled workers—who are presumably less likely to violate the law because they have more to lose—from putting their capital and talent to work here, they will simply create jobs elsewhere, and Americans will find a way to “offshore” at least some of the work they need done.

Quotas proposed by the Gang of Eight bill represent small fractions of the actual demand for labor across the American economy. If a key goal of immigration reform is to decrease the number of attempts by would-be workers to cross our borders illegally and instead to give a legal path to work here (separate from any question of a path to citizenship), this bill simply cannot succeed.

This is not just an economic issue; it is also a national security issue. The more demand there is for illegal passage across our border, the more illegal passageways will be created, leaving a border both more porous and more crowded. Thus, quotas so low as to be meaningless make it easier to for a terrorist to cross into the United States among the throngs who, under any rational policy, would be processed through an employment office rather than occasionally intercepted scurrying through a tunnel or over a wall.

With labor costs rising in large Asian nations that had previously supplied less expensive higher-skill workers, offshoring will become marginally less attractive. But that doesn’t mean the result will simply be more jobs for Americans in America. After all, the existence of higher-paid workers in other nations means more and richer customers in other nations. So the result is increasingly likely to include an American brain-drain, as our mindless, non-economic limitations on immigration into the U.S. cause rational, profitable emigration out of the U.S.

To be sure, both low-skill and high-skill immigrants who come to the United States can negatively impact the wages of individual Americans competing for the same jobs. Foes of immigration expansion trumpet these cases loudly. Despite a questionable Heritage Foundation report, however, the majority of studies on the impact of immigration on Americans who have above a high-school education show a distinctly positive effect for the nation as a whole. (See herehere, and here among many other examples.)

To use an economic term, increased immigration may not be a Pareto-optimal improvement, but it is an improvement nonetheless: The nation gains economically, but that does not mean there are no losers in the process.

And thus we get to the fundamental problem in the immigration debate—and in almost every other public policy debate in a nation whose central government does far too much for far too many: concentrated benefits and diffuse costs.

Imagine this situation: A defense manufacturer wants a government contract for a $300 million satellite for a mission that might be useful but is certainly not critical. That contract would earn the company $30 million in profit while costing every American a single dollar. It’s true that many Americans pay no taxes, so the actual distribution of $300 million cost will be steeply skewed. Nevertheless, how many Americans will spend time or money lobbying Congress to forego the satellite? Versus how many millions of dollars will the company spend lobbying in favor the contract?

Similarly, if the American economy would stand to gain tens of millions, or tens of billions of dollars from immigration reform, increasing jobs and opportunity across the nation, but thousands of individual workers would suffer declines in their incomes, which will be the louder, more aggressive voice?

The reality is that our immigration system is broken, that most politicians realize at least this much, and that Republicans feel the need to pass something in a desperate attempt to gain support among a rapidly growing Hispanic electorate (though it is unproven that a bill like the Gang of Eight’s would accomplish that goal).

Something must be done. But for those who believe that Republicans may just be adding to their long, dreary record of “compromise first, principles perhaps later,” one must wonder whether this legislation—proposed as much because it will make people think something good has been done as because of what it will actually do—is the right answer.

In the spirit of suggesting a solution rather than just complaining about a problem, a particular reform plan comes to mind: the Red Card Solution. It focuses on creating a guest-worker program, a move that, despite being opposed by the most aggressively anti-immigrant forces as well as by big labor, is the lynchpin to successfully restructuring our dysfunctional immigration system.

A key assumption of the Red Card Solution, as stated in a white paper (should it be a red paper?), is that “the vast majority of illegal workers in the U.S. are not here seeking citizenship, or even permanent resident status…The debates about ‘illegal immigration,’ and solutions proposing a ‘path to citizenship’ fuel deep-seated concerns about amnesty—and even voting rights—for people whose only qualification is a blatant defiance of the law. However, since this is not the objective of most illegal aliens, a program to provide legal non-citizen work permits for these people does not require a significant change in immigration laws.”

This assumption is difficult to prove. One recent, but small, survey suggested that nearly 90 percent of illegal immigrant Hispanics would apply for citizenship if they could. That said, it stands to reason that what most illegal aliens want is the ability to provide labor and earn a living without fear of jail and deportation. They would still want that if a path to citizenship were unavailable or very burdensome or expensive. We should move in that direction for our sake, not for theirs.

America does not have a moral responsibility to open its borders simply because others want to come here, and particularly not when immigrants might impose costs on taxpayers. However, we have a moral responsibility to Americans to implement an immigration system that serves our nation and not just special interests.

The only possible reforms that can meet this test are those based on free-market supply and demand forces and that leave as little decision-making as possible in the hands of bureaucrats, Congressmen, and rent-seeking lobbyists. The Red Card Solution aces the test, and for that reason alone is today the best immigration reform plan I am aware of.

It is hard to say whether the Gang of Eight bill is better than nothing. If this is the case, it is so primarily in a political sense rather than a policy sense. But when you have legislation drafted by K-Street bagmen and supported more for its compromise than its adherence to any economically sensible principles, Americans shouldn’t be surprised when they end up disappointed.

Mercury News: Ruben Navarrette: ‘Red Card’ solution may be the immigration answer

By Ruben Navarrette
April 27, 2013

SAN DIEGO — Perplexed by the immigration debate? Helen Krieble has a solution. It’s called the “Red Card Solution.”

The 69-year-old grandmother of nine is the president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, which is named after her grandfather — a chemist and entrepreneur who, in 1953, invented and successfully marketed a special sealant for metal. She also owns and operates the Colorado Horse Park, an international equestrian and events center in Parker, Colo.

Anyone who raises or trains horses learns two things quickly: This is a job that Americans often don’t want to do, and Mexican immigrants will take the jobs and are attentive enough to be good with the animals.

But if the immigrants are here illegally, and you can’t hire them, that’s a problem.

Helen Krieble solves problems. A few years ago, she came up with the Red Card Solution. Newt Gingrich endorsed the concept during one ofthe 2012 Republican presidential debates. The plug was a mixed blessing.

“Newt got the details wrong, and made it sound too much like amnesty,” she told me.

Red cards are not amnesty. They’re renewable work permits for the undocumented without permanent legal residency or citizenship. Some in Congress are interested.

“There’s a database that matches workers and employers,” she said. “And it would be open to all people who need work permits, including those who are illegal now and foreign workers who want to come. You have to go through a national security check, and you must have a job. Forty-eight hours later, you’re in the U.S. as a legal worker.”

That was simple.

While Washington could get mired in the debate over citizenship and come up empty-handed, red cards probably would be easier to push through. People could work legally. Families could stay together. And the Obama administration’s grotesque deportation machine could be scrapped.

This is a big improvement on the status quo. Maybe not better than the 844-page bill from the Senate’s “Gang of Eight.” But better than nothing.

Liberals won’t like it, however. Krieble understands why.

“Every time there is mention of comprehensive immigration reform, the left drops interest in anything short of that,” she said. “But you and I both know that citizenship is going to be the thing that once again kills reform. So let’s deal with 80 percent of the problem — the people who don’t have criminal records and just want to work.”

Immigration reform advocates want to protect the Senate bill, and scuttle anything that competes with it. So they’ll argue that the plan turns immigrant workers into indentured servants. What does she say to that?

“I say that there are two paths,” she said. “There is a path to work permits, which is simple and almost instantaneous, and there is a path to citizenship, which is very serious and very hard. That’s how it should be. However, if you’ve got a work permit, that doesn’t prohibit you from joining the other path. But you have to identify yourself as someone who really wants to be a citizen and follow the procedure.”

For Krieble, U.S. citizenship is not like a goody bag you give away at a party. It’s precious. “The phrase ‘naturalization’ means to make as if native,” she said. “It’s about understanding that America is an idea. It’s not about the dates of the Civil War. It’s about who we are as a people, what we stand for, and our responsibilities as free citizens. Many Americans have forgotten that. So how do you make people who want to become citizens aware of it? It’s not as simple as passing a bill. It should take some time.”

Excellent point. Immigrants have to come to citizenship at their own speed, and not on the timetable of politicians who only care about ginning up voters for the next election.

What Krieble cares about is restoring the country’s greatness. “For generations, why did people uproot their existence to come to America?” she asked. “It wasn’t for welfare or Social Security. It was for freedom, opportunity and equality. So who can save America and return our values? It’s not our children who, these days, are spoiled brats. It’s new immigrants who know what this country is all about. They’re the people who can once again make America the great light of the world.”

Right again. The Red Card Solution might not be perfect. But the message behind it is awfully close.

Ruben Navarrette is a Washington Post columnist.

Published by Mercury News.

April 8, 2013
Media Contacts:
Dick Wadhams

Michelle Yi


DENVER, CO — A national poll on public support for an employer driven guest worker plan conducted by Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies and Floyd Ciruli of Ciruli and Associates will be formally announced on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club.

The poll was sponsored by the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation which is educating about an employer driven guest worker program, the Red Card Guest Worker Permit,

McInturff and Ciruli will present the poll’s findings on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10 at 10:00 AM in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club.

The Pueblo Chieftain: First Step

ADD SCOTT Tipton to those who favor an immigration reform based on the proposed “Red Card” solution.

The proposal, pushed by Newt Gingrich during the Republican presidential primaries, has also been championed by northern Colorado businesswoman Helen Krieble. Now Rep. Tipton, a Republican who serves from this state’s 3rd Congressional District, believes the Red Card program would be a helpful, incremental step toward reforming this nation’s immigration mess.

He notes that the agricultural and construction industries need manpower that immigrants who can be in the United States legally can provide. The Red Card program would create a guest worker program to match foreign workers with domestic jobs.

A Red Card could be “swiped” to obtain pertinent personal information about registered guest workers, such as their photo, employment history and current job status. The program would be privately run and financed solely through applicant fees and businesses wanting to hire legal workers.

For the Red Card Guest Worker Program to succeed, it would require the cooperation of the federal government for a formal arrangement of conducting criminal background checks and verifying the legal status of participating workers. Private employment agencies, licensed by the federal government, could open offices in foreign countries and issue the non-citizen worker registry cards in order to match applicants with job openings.

The program would not involve a path to citizenship or put participants ahead of the line for those seeking permanent entry into the United States. Rather, the Red Card would give foreign workers the freedom to return to their native countries and families between U.S. jobs and to re-enter this country legally when another job for which they qualify becomes available.

Currently, many illegal aliens opt to stay in the U.S. for fear they would not be able to get back in if they return to their home country.

The Red Card is a good first step toward immigration reform. Why not try it?

Published by The Pueblo Chieftain.

The Pueblo Chieftain: A tepid step

THERE WAS some movement toward immigration reform last week when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO agreed on the skeleton of an agreement that would allow more immigrants to work in this country.

That agreement was in some ways ill-conceived.

For example it spoke of allowing only 15,000 visas a year that can be sought by the construction industry. In today’s economy, that sounds reasonable because construction is in the doldrums. But in a dynamic, growing economy with American construction workers on the job, 15,000 for the entire nation is a piddling amount.

For that reason and others, Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio warned he was not ready to lend his name — and political clout — to such a deal without hashing out the details. ‘‘Reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature,’’ said Republican Rubio, who is among the lawmakers working to write the legislation.

Sen. Rubio, a Cuban-American who is weighing a presidential bid in 2016, is a leading figure inside his party. Lawmakers will be closely watching any deal for his approval, and his skepticism about the process did little to encourage optimism.

Sen. Rubio is a member of the “Gang of Eight” senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — who have been working on comprehensive immigration legislation. They are due to unveil their proposal next Monday.

Sen. Rubio called the Chamber-union agreement ‘‘a starting point’’ but noted 92 senators from 43 states haven’t yet been involved in the process. That can begin once the official proposal gets into the hands of the entire Senate next week.

Meanwhile, we still look favorably at the “Red Card” option being promoted by Helen Krieble, a Northern Colorado businesswoman. It is a logical and reasonable idea — a guest worker program to match foreign workers with domestic jobs. It would use a “Red Card” for tracking the employment and status of immigrant workers who have been hired to fill jobs in the United States.

Ms. Krieble’s approach would require the cooperation of the federal government, most likely through Congress, for a formal arrangement of conducting criminal background checks and verifying the legal status of participating workers.

We suggest that the “Red Card” approach be considered as Congress comes to grips with an immigration policy that has gone far out of whack. We need a policy that matches workers with the job demands of the American economy — period.

Published by The Pueblo Chieftain.

Release: Key Findings From The National Survey Of Registered Voters Regarding Immigration

SEPTEMBER 24-26, 2012

North Star Opinion Research was commissioned by the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation to conduct a national telephone survey of 800 registered voters on their views of immigration. Majorities of voters say that immigration is an economic benefit rather than an economic threat, think that creating a system for handling temporary guest workers will do more to strengthen our border than increasing border enforcement, and agree that “it is not possible to have absolute border control without a better system for handling guest workers.” Large majorities of voters support both the DREAM Act and the described Red Card proposal for guest workers as approaches to deal with illegal immigration.

Highlights from the survey are:

1. A majority of voters says illegal immigration is an economic benefit to the United States. Voters say illegal immigration is an economic benefit, rather than an economic threat, by a 55 to 33 percent margin.

2. By a double-digit margin, voters say “creating a system of handling temporary guest workers that would come here legally and then return home” will do more to strengthen the border than “increasing the presence of law enforcement officials along the border.” Voters say creating a guest worker program will do more to strengthen the border by a 52 to 35 percent margin.

3. Nearly three-quarters of voters agree that “it is not possible to have absolute border control without a better system for handling guest workers.” Underscoring the attitude that immigration is a net benefit and that a guest worker program would strengthen the border, voters say it is not possible to control the border without a guest worker program by a 73 to 16 percent margin, including a 71 to 18 percent margin among Republicans, a 72 to 19 percent margin among Independents, and a 77 to 14 percent margin among Democrats.

4. Voters support the Krieble Foundation’s Red Card proposal by a two-to-one margin.

Voters heard the following description of the Red Card proposal:

The proposal would require all illegal immigrants currently living and working in the United States to leave the country. They could immediately apply for new TEMPORARY guest worker visas linking specific workers to specific jobs through private U.S. employment agencies licensed by the federal government. Each applicant would undergo an instant background check by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security before their temporary guest worker visa is granted.

Voters support the proposal by a 60 to 30 percent margin overall. Republicans support it by a 66 to 25 percent margin, compared to a 60 to 31 percent margin among Independents and a 54 to 35 percent margin among Democrats.

5. Wide margins of voters across party lines support the DREAM Act as well. Overall, voters support the DREAM Act, “which would allow children of undocumented immigrants who have grown up in America to attain legal residency status if they complete college or serve in the U.S. military,” by a 74 to 20 percent margin, including a 63 to 29 percent margin among Republicans, a 75 to 18 percent margin among Independents, and an 84 to 13 percent margin among Democrats.

6. Voters say a full solution to the immigration issue would go beyond the DREAM Act. By a 68 to 17 percent margin, voters agree that “the Dream Act only addresses the immigration problem for 10 percent of undocumented immigrants, so it is only a partial solution to our country’s immigration problem.” They also think that many young people who would qualify for the DREAM Act “will not come forward out of fear they would expose their parents as illegal immigrants” by a 73 to 17 percent margin. As a result, voters agree that “we will still need a solution to the guest worker problem in order to address the immigration issue for everyone” by an 80 to 11 percent margin.


Respondents were selected through random-digit-dialing, including cell phone numbers, and interviewed by live interviewers. All respondents confirmed that they are registered to vote in the county in which they live. The margin of error for responses with an even split – 50 percent for one response and 50 percent for another response – is plus or minus 3.46 percent. The margin of error is smaller when one response receives a higher level of support. For example, the margin of error is plus or minus 3.00 percent when 75 percent of respondents choose one response and 25 percent choose another response.

North Star Opinion Research Survey Crosstabs

North Star Opinion Research Survey Toplines

Weekly Standard: Immigration Bill This Year?

The Weekly Standard
John McCormack

Harry Reid pledged that Congress would take up an immigration reform bill by the end of this year, but Ed Morrissey points out that the White House is trying to squelch any expectations that an immigration bill will come up soon, with health care and cap and trade dominating Obama’s domestic agenda.

As the recession has reduced the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States, the issue hasn’t been in the news much. Immigration groups, however, are still clamoring for Obama to follow through on his pledge to change the law. One of the more interesting proposals, as Morrissey notes, is the Red Card Solution being promoted by Helen Kreible. The plan, which has earned praise from Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence, would set up private firms, funded by employers of guest workers, south of the border that would match workers with employers in the United States. While the plan would help create an equilibrium between the supply and demand for foreign labor, I doubt that the federal government would allow private firms to be responsible for security background checks on prospective workers, as the video pitch for the Red Card Solution suggests.

Click here to read the entire article.

EFE: Obama Buscará Reactivar el Debate Migratorio, Aún si no hay un Clima Favorable


El presidente de EEUU, Barack Obama, se reunirá este jueves con líderes del Congreso para espolear el debate sobre la reforma migratoria, aunque existe el gran temor de que no hay un clima político que favorezca su aprobación este año.

La Casa Blanca ha intentado minimizar las expectativas sobre lo que pueda surgir del encuentro -postergado en dos ocasiones por problemas de agenda-, pero ha insistido en que Obama mantiene su compromiso de impulsar la reforma este año.

Obama repitió ese compromiso, ya presentado durante la campaña electoral, durante un desayuno de oración con líderes religiosos y comunitarios el viernes pasado.

Lo que no esbozó fue un cronograma para echar a andar la reforma, quizá porque el encuentro del jueves, según ha explicado la Casa Blanca, servirá como “punto de partida” para elaborar una estrategia común sobre el tema.

Mientras, dentro y fuera del Congreso, existe el temor de que, ante una apretada agenda legislativa y el clima político actual -en medio de una recesión y donde no hay consenso sobre las reformas energética y de salud-, la reforma migratoria tendrá que esperar incluso hasta después de los comicios legislativos de 2010.

Chasque aquí para leer el artículo completo.

Hot Air: Immigration On or Off the Table?

Hot Air
Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama claimed that immigration reform would remain at the top of his priorities for this year, but this expiration date lasted less than a day.  Roll Call confirms that the White House will drop immigration this year, consumed by its efforts to do damage control on the health-care and cap-and-trade fiascos falling apart on Capitol Hill…

Click here to read the entire article.

PR Newswire: The White House. The Red Card. Why not?

PR Newswire

While leaders discuss citizenship, taxes, legalization, and i.d. cards this Thursday at the White House meeting on Immigration Reform – all essentials of The Red Card Solution – the solution itself, from businesswoman Helen Krieble, is apparently not invited.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 23, Krieble takes The Red Card Solution to the Library of Congress and that afternoon at 5:30 debuts a mini-documentary at the National Press Club Ballroom. The documentary includes Luis Cortez, head of Esperanza, host of the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast (where the President announced the new White House meeting date). The panel after the mini-documentary features Alberto Avendano from El Tiempo Latino; Helen Krieble of The Red Card Solution; Steve Moore from the Wall Street Journal; James Carafano, Heritage Foundation; Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works; and Mario Lopez, Hispanic Leadership Fund…

US News: Immigration Reform Now Moves to Center Stage

U.S. News and World Report
Nikki Schwab and Paul Bedard

It has been delayed twice and is flying in under the healthcare debate, but the president and a select group of lawmakers will finally talk immigration reform at the White House tomorrow. The key players last time around were Sens. Ted Kennedy and John McCain. Kennedy continues to battle brain cancer, but McCain will be among the lawmakers at the meeting. “Yes, he was invited, and yes, he will be attending,” McCain Communications Director Brooke Buchanan tells Whispers. But as far as the senator taking a high-profile leadership role, she stays mum. “We’ll leave it at that for now,” she says. Vigils are being held today in Arizona, including outside McCain’s Tucson, Ariz., office, to push for immigration reform this year.

Chatter on what immigration reform will look like is picking up in Washington, too. One idea, being shopped around to congressional staffers and reporters yesterday, would be to create a guest-worker program of sorts. Called the “red-card solution,” it would have foreign workers head to employment agencies in their home countries to be matched with American employers and issued a noncitizen work permit, a red, temporary ID card that would allow them to stay and work legally in the United States for as long as they held that specific job. Then they would return home. “I think that’s a humane, easy thing to do,” says Helen Krieble, the founder and president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, who came up with the idea. A businesswoman herself, Krieble was looking for a way to fill lower-paying jobs at her Colorado equestrian center and found herself in the dilemma of not being able to find Americans for the work and not being able to employ foreign workers legally either. “The antibusiness idea that business people are out to rape the workforce does not appeal to me,” she says, reiterating that she could not find Americans to do these jobs. This plan would provide a legal means to work temporarily in the United States but would not help the 12 million illegal immigrants already living here….

Click here to read the entire article.

PR Newswire: Private Business Tackles Immigration-The Red Card Solution: A Path to Legality, Not Citizenship for Temporary Workers.

PR Newswire

On Tuesday, just two days before President Obama holds his White House Summit on Immigration reform, Helen Krieble of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation introduced The Red Card Solution (, her private sector initiative to solve America’s temporary worker dilemma.

“The President has promised to deal with this issue,” says Krieble. “I’m suggesting a simple plan that is secure through the use of smart cards, cost-free to taxpayers since it’s funded by the private sector, practical for foreign workers and the business owners who need them, and economically beneficial because it generates new tax revenues for American coffers.”

Helen introduced The Red Card Solution on Tuesday while premiering a mini-documentary on the issue at the National Press Club inWashington, along with experts on the topic who were panelists in a lively Q&A with guests, including Steve Moore from the Wall Street Journal; James Carafano, Heritage Foundation; Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works; and Mario Lopez, Hispanic Leadership Fund…

US News: An Immigration Compromise?

Mark Bandyk

The economic crisis seems to have pushed the immigration debate to the wayside–even though lifting restrictions on foreign workers could arguably be a big stimulus in itself. But that doesn’t mean that some on Capitol Hill aren’t still trying to bridge the gap between people who don’t want any kind of “amnesty” and those who want to make legal immigration easier.

The nonprofit group the Krieble Foundation recently promoted its “Red Card Solution” to the immigration issue with an event for members of Congress and their staffers, and they also had a National Press Club event where some members of prominent free-market groups like Freedom Works…..

Click here to read entire article

US News: An Immigration Compromise?

Mark Bandyk

The economic crisis seems to have pushed the immigration debate to the wayside–even though lifting restrictions on foreign workers could arguably be a big stimulus in itself. But that doesn’t mean that some on Capitol Hill aren’t still trying to bridge the gap between people who don’t want any kind of “amnesty” and those who want to make legal immigration easier.

The nonprofit group the Krieble Foundation recently promoted its “Red Card Solution” to the immigration issue with an event for members of Congress and their staffers, and they also had a National Press Club event where some members of prominent free-market groups like Freedom Works…..

Click here to read entire article

Spero Forum: Red Card Biometrics Touted for Immigration Reform

Anita Crane
July 3, 2009

President Barack Obama invited a small group of Senate and House members to the White House for a June 25 meeting on comprehensive immigration reform. Among other things, he announced that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will work with lawmakers and that the government will target employers who hire undocumented workers.

For years, Helen Krieble, president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation in Denver, has been trying to help business owners as well as temporary migrant workers, and so she developed the Red Card Solution. After all, she owns the Colorado Horse Park, an international equestrian center in Parker, Colo., which depends on the labor of migrant workers. Yet she has never been invited to meet with President Obama.

Still, on June 23-24, Krieble conducted Red Card seminars in Washington for lawmakers and everyone who would listen.

Currently, U.S. law dictates that only 33,000 H-2B visas are granted to seasonal guest workers per each half of the fiscal year, but Krieble said that’s too few workers for the demands of small business owners across America….

Click here to read the entire article.

The Cutting Edge News: Biometric Technology Advances Immigration Solution but Perhaps at Price of Civil Liberties

Anita Crane

President Barack Obama invited a group of Senate and House members to the White House for a June 25 meeting on comprehensive immigration reform. Among other things, he announced that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will work with lawmakers and that the federal government will target employers who hire undocumented workers.

For years, Helen Krieble, president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation in Denver, has been trying to help business owners and temporary migrant workers. Therefore, she developed the Red Card Solution. After all, she owns the Colorado Horse Park, an international equestrian center in Parker, Colorado, which depends on the labor of migrant or guest workers (an interchangeable term). Yet she has never been invited to meet with President Obama. Still, on June 23-24, Krieble conducted Red Card seminars in Washington for lawmakers and everyone who would listen.

Currently, U.S. law dictates that only 33,000 H-2B visas are granted to seasonal guest workers per each half of the fiscal year, but Krieble said that’s too few workers for the demands of small business owners across America.

Click here to read the entire article.

Release: Red Card Solution Handout

Red Card Solution Handout

CNN Debate: Speaker Gingrich

Partial transcript of CNN National Security Debate. November 22, 2011:

…WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Speaker Gingrich, let me let you broaden out this conversation. Back in the ’80s — and you remember this well. I was covering you then. Ronald Reagan and you — you voted for legislation that had a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as you well remember. There were, what, maybe 12 million, 10 million — 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States right now.

Some called it amnesty then; they still call it amnesty now. What would you do if you were President of the United States, with these millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom have been in this country for a long time?

FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me start and just say I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here.


GINGRICH: You know, about five blocks down the street, you’ll see a statue of Einstein. Einstein came here as an immigrant. So let’s be clear how much the United States has drawn upon the world to be richer, better and more inclusive.

I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it — and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.

We got neither. So I think you’ve got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border, as the governor said. I believe ultimately you have to find some system — once you’ve put every piece in place, which includes the guest worker program, you need something like a World War II Selective Service Board that, frankly, reviews the people who are here. If you’re here — if you’ve come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. period. If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.

The Krieble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal, but you don’t get a pass to citizenship. And so there’s a way to ultimately end up with a country where there’s no more illegality, but you haven’t automatically given amnesty to anyone….

National Review Online: Newt Gingrich and the Krieble Foundation Plan

By Reihan Salam 

During tonight’s foreign policy debate, Newt Gingrich made reference to the “the Krieble Foundation plan.” If I understand correctly, the plan is called “the Red Card solution.” The Krieble family has devoted considerable resources to finding a politically viable way out of the immigration impasse, which is, well, kind of interesting itself, the merits of the plan aside. The plan was drafted by the head of the foundation, Helen Krieble, and it aims to reconcile various clashing interests.

Its basic premise is that “a path to citizenship” isn’t the only viable way forward, as large numbers of migrants are primarily interested in accessing the U.S. labor market rather than permanently settling in the U.S. The current immigration enforcement regime, however, has ended the “circular migration” that once existed, as migrants are afraid of losing access to lucrative job opportunities. Instead, we have an entrenched and socially isolated population of less-skilled migrants without strong attachments to U.S. society. This ultimately leads to entrenched poverty.

One solution is to reduce the social isolation of this population through a path to citizenship. Krieble offers an alternative.

The solution would seem much simpler if leaders understood that the vast majority of illegal workers in theU.S. are not here seeking citizenship, or even permanent resident status. They are workers with families to support back home, and they have every intention and desire to return home. They are here because they cannot hope to earn as much money working at home. They are here for the money, not because they want to be permanentAmericans. …

But the debates about “illegal immigration,” and solutions proposing a “path to citizenship” fuel deep-seated concerns about amnesty – and even voting rights – for people whose only qualification is a blatant defiance of the law. However, since this is not the objective of most illegal aliens, a program to provide legal non-citizen work permits for these people does not require a significant change in immigration laws. It is a private-sector function, the basis of the Red Card solution.

So what exactly is the nature of the Red Card solution?

This approach is based on separating the alien population into two different groups, on two different legal paths. One group that wants to become permanent residents or citizens would have to comply with those laws and procedures, including the vitally important process of assimilating into American culture, learning our history, our government, our language, and especially the responsibilities required of citizens. Citizenship is clearly a responsibility of the federal government. The second group, non-citizen workers, would follow a different path, a simple way for workers and their families to come to the U.S. for specific jobs and for specified periods of time. It would also require them leave the U.S. at the end of that time, and would provide no special access to the citizenship path. Matching employers and employees is a function of the private sector, not the government.

The Red Card solution is far from perfect. A few obvious rejoinders come immediately to mind:

(a) Biometric identification is far from foolproof;

(b) employers might have excessive power over employees under this arrangement;

(c) there are legitimate anxieties surrounding the creation of guest worker programs and their broader implications for the idea of shared democratic citizenship and shared obligations (a few years back, for example, Yuval Levin called for an immigration reform that doesn’t allow lawful permanent residents to remain in the country indefinitely if they have no intention of pursuing citizenship);

(d) if we do create a guest worker program, we might want to distribute Red Cards with a humanitarian interest in mind, as Lant Pritchett and Michael Clemens have proposed (i.e., we might grant Red Cards only to workers from highly-indebted poor countries, like Mali, the Central African Republic, and Zambia, rather than from middle-income countries like Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, and Ghana);

(e) and what happens when Red Card holders give birth to a child on American soil? Replacing birthright citizenship (i.e., a jus soli regime) is controversial, but it might be necessary if we intend to create a population of temporary guest workers.

Apart from (a), which does strike me as serious, these don’t strike me as insurmountable objections. The idea of separating those who intend to become lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens from those who intend to become circular migrants or temporary guest workers is coherent, though of course some immigrants will intend to come in the second category and decide that they’d rather be in the first as they develop attachments. What should be clear is that the Red Card proposal represents a radical departure from the immigration status quo, for better or for worse.

Kudos to Newt Gingrich for advancing a distinctive, unconventional proposal. As much as I disagree with Gingrich on any number of issues, we share a number of fixations. His frequent invocation of “Lean Six Sigma” has become a running joke in some circles. Yet the idea of expecting more managerial rigor from the public sector is, as regular readers know, a subject of consuming interest in these parts, and I’m glad that one candidate has taken up the mantle unironically.

P.S. I should note Mark Krikorian’s strong objections to the proposal.

This article was published on The National Review Online website.

Washington Post: A closer look at Gingrich’s ‘Red Card’ immigration plan

By Suzy Khimm

Urging compassion on illegal immigration, Newt Gingrich offered a specific idea of how to reform the broken system during the Republican primary debate Tuesday night: the Red Card Solution.


“The Krieble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal, but you don’t get a pass to citizenship,” Gingrich said. “And so there’s a way to ultimately end up with a country where there’s no more illegality, but you haven’t automatically given amnesty to anyone… I would urge all of you to look at the Krieble Foundation Plan.”

 In fact, the Krieble Foundation has an entire Web site devoted to selling its Red Card Solution, which attempts to separate legalization from citizenship by creating two distinct tracks for immigrants: 1) an expanded migrant/guest worker program that would issue microchipped cards to those who have secured jobs; 2) the current pathway to citizenship, which wouldn’t change under the program. Employers and law-enforcement officers would check the legal status of temporary workers by swiping these new cards, running them through a database funded by user fees and private companies and overseen by the federal government.

It would still be illegal to hire a worker who’s not in the country legally, but the Red Card Solution would essentially allow employers to circumvent the bureaucratic, backlogged visa system to hire immigrants legally. The “non-citizen workers” participating in the program would be required “to go through a background check and to return home at the end of their employment. It would give them no special place in the citizenship line.”

Also, the children of these non-citizen workers—and, presumably, those born to illegal immigrants— who are born in the United States would not receive “birthright citizenship” that’s granted under the 14th Amendment, which the Krieble Foundation describes as an “absurd practice” that misinterprets the Constitution.

So under this Gingrich-endorsed program, illegal immigrants could presumably apply for work permits and get a Red Card to stay in the country, preventing the kind of deportations that break up families and communities. But what if that longtime immigrant loses her job or is unable to secure one through the program? Under the Red Card plan, she would presumably have to return to her home country. That raises the concern that the program would effectively create a “second class” of migrant workers whose options in the United States are strictly limited. (Reihan Salam raises other good questions here.)

It’s also unclear whether Gingrich’s support for the Red Card will dampen the blowback that’s already begun on the right, accusing him of backing “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. But Gingrich may already have a group of conservatives waiting in the wings to back his immigration compromise: Matt Kibbe, president of Freedomworks; Stephen Moore, the Wall Street Journal columnist; and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) have all endorsed red cars, as the Krieble Foundation features prominently in the promotional video above.

This article was published on The Washington Post website.

National Review Online: GOP Candidates Betray the Spirit of Reagan on Immigration

Instead of throwing money at more enforcement, the laws need changing.

By Daniel Griswold

Immigration has loomed larger as an issue in the Republican presidential debates than it does in the minds of most voters. Driven by a minority of activists in their party, the candidates have been drawn into an unhealthy competition to see who can sound the harshest in cracking down on low-skilled illegal immigrants from Latin America.

So far the biggest loser in the competition is the Republican party.

The party is losing out because the rhetoric brings us no closer to actually solving the problem, while driving away voters crucial to the party’s long-term success. 

Conservatives should be friendly to immigration, and the first to seek expanded opportunities for legal immigration. Immigration has been integral to America’s free and open economy. Immigrants embody the American spirit. They are self-starters seeking opportunity to support themselves and their families in the private sector.

Current immigration is driven largely by demand and supply. Immigrants come when there are jobs available that not enough Americans are able and willing to fill. That’s why immigration rates, legal and illegal, tend to fall when the economy is struggling, and to pick up as the economy grows. Immigrants stimulate job creation for natives by promoting investment, creating new products and services, and increasing demand for housing and other goods. Immigration keeps America demographically healthy while other, less open Western nations struggle with declining workforces.

Study after study confirms that immigrants help to boost the productivity and incomes of native-born Americans. A 2009 Cato Institute study by Peter Dixon and Maureen Rimmer calculated that legalizing low-skilled immigration would boost the collective income of U.S. households by $180 billion per year. A new American Enterprise Institute study by Madeline Zavodny finds that an increase in visas for both high-skilled and less-skilled foreign-born workers actually creates a net increase in jobs for native-born workers.

Contrary to fears stoked by talk radio, immigrants do not fuel an increase in crime. In fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than their native counterparts. They are too busy working and don’t want to jeopardize their residency in the United States by getting into trouble with law enforcement. That helps to explain why crime rates have been dropping for two decades in Arizona and across the country even as immigration rates have been rising.

If legal immigration were expanded, the kind of workers now sneaking across the border illegally would instead enter legally through established ports of entry. We know from the Bracero program in the 1950s that an increase in guest-worker visas led to a sharp drop in illegal traffic across the border. With far fewer workers entering illegally, the Border Patrol and local law-enforcement officers could concentrate their resources on apprehending real criminals.

Immigrants come to America to work, not to live off the welfare state. Their labor-force participation rates exceed those of native-born Americans. U.S. law bars immigrants from collecting welfare for at least five years after they arrive.

Critics of immigration routinely exaggerate the cost of emergency-room care and public education for immigrants and their families. The cost of government services used by illegal immigrants is a small fraction of what government spends on middle-class entitlement programs, corporate welfare, and farm subsidies. If conservatives are worried about social spending on immigrants, their aim should be to wall off the welfare state, not our country.

Immigrants do not undermine American culture, they enrich it. Immigrants come because they appreciate the freedom and economic opportunity that has traditionally defined our country. Like waves of immigrants in the past, today’s Hispanic and Asian immigrants are learning English, and their children and grandchildren are overwhelmingly fluent.

This article was published on the National Review Online.

The Moral Liberal: V&V Q&A: On the “Red Card Solution”

Helen E. Krieble, The Center for Vision and Values

V&V: Criticizing your “Red Card Solution,” Ann Coulter recently said that immigrant workers holding red cards could “stay, take American jobs, have children, receive welfare benefits, attend public schools—and eventually be granted amnesty.” Would you tell us what the red card program entails and why you think it’s a workable solution to certain problems involving immigrant workers?

Helen Krieble: The “Red Card Solution” begins with separating temporary work status from citizenship—two entirely separate processes. Businesses could post jobs with private employment firms located outside the United States and licensed by the government to issue work permits. Workers would undergo background checks to ensure they are not criminals, and smart-card technology would be used to track them and enforce the terms of their employment while in the United States. The work permit would not offer a path to citizenship or permanent status, and the costs would be entirely funded by user fees, not taxpayers. The vast majority of workers would then cross through gates, rather than sneak over fences, and would be taxpayers while in the United States, not tax drainers.

V&V: Would holders of red cards “eventually be granted amnesty,” as Coulter suggests? And would they receive welfare benefits or be able to attend public schools?

Krieble: The Red Card Solution does not support amnesty, no matter how many years someone has been breaking the law. It does not propose a path to permanent residency or citizenship. Only government can grant citizenship, a very serious life-changing decision by an immigrant who understands America’s history, culture, ideals, language, and government. Anyone in the world can apply for U.S. citizenship, but status as a guest worker should not confer any special place in line. Guest workers should not be eligible for welfare or other public benefits, nor should their children be automatic citizens. If they want such rights, there is a naturalization process for citizenship applicants, but that should have nothing whatsoever to do with temporary guest workers. That separation is one of the hallmarks of the Red Card Solution. Further, illegals already in the United States would have to leave the country and apply for the Red Card, prove employment, undergo the background check, and enter the country legally. There would be no amnesty for those in the country illegally.

V&V: Some critics of the red card are concerned that children born to red card holders while working in the United States would become “birthright citizens” as provided by the U.S. Constitution. How do you respond to this charge?

Krieble: We believe that is a misunderstanding of the intent of the 14th Amendment. It grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction. Congress has the right and responsibility to determine who that includes, and has done so on many occasions. It was never intended to include children born to diplomats, foreign nationals, visitors, or others whose primary loyalty is to another government. Allowing people to come to the United States specifically to have children here—and thereby obtain special treatment in the immigration process—is contrary to the intent of our Constitution, and it should not be allowed. It is certainly not part of the Red Card Solution.

V&V: Why and how did you come up with the idea for the red card? And do you think red card workers would be taking “American jobs,” as Ann Coulter states?

Krieble: My own experience in hiring workers gave me a clear understanding of how badly “broken” our current visa system is. It sets artificial quotas on the number of workers allowed—quotas which have no basis in economic reality—and it leaves administration to a bureaucracy that simply cannot handle day-to-day business decisions quickly enough to respond to business needs. The beauty of privatizing the hiring process is that private firms charge fees for their services. Businesses do not pay head-hunters to find workers if they are available locally, so there would be an automatic, market-based advantage to American workers—an advantage the current illegal system actually negates by creating a class of lower-paid and readily available workers.

V&V: Do most “temporary” workers simply become permanent illegals and then bring their families to the United States?

Krieble: This is common under the current system, which, by making legal work status so difficult, turns many people who intended to be temporary workers into permanent immigrants. The Red Card Solution would change that by making it easier for people to come and go to visit their families while working in the United States, allowing them to build a better life back home. Workers with families earning minimum wage in the United States are impoverished, where those same wages can make them well-off in many countries. Their strong incentive is to earn money and then return home, if our system would allow it.

V&V: Who would run the red card system and how long would it take to get it up and running if it were to be embraced by Congress and by a future U.S. president?

Krieble: Private firms match specific workers to specific jobs every day all over the world, and they are experts at it. Employment firms already exist everywhere, so implementation would be as fast as there is a market for workers, and as fast as background checks can ensure safety (such checks take only a few minutes for most gun shops). Once there is an available pool of legal workers, strong enforcement against businesses who continue to hire illegally would dry up the market for illegal workers, and the borders would become more secure very quickly without the tens of thousands of workers trying to sneak through.

V&V: Where can an interested person find more detailed information on exactly how the plan would work?

Krieble: For a short summary, a white paper, and a 15-minute documentary, please go to

V&V: Thank you Helen Krieble; we look forward to seeing you in April.

Editor’s Note: The “V&V Q&A” is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. In this latest edition, we discuss a recent column by Ann Coulter, which criticized Newt Gingrich for advocating Helen Krieble’s “Red Card Solution” for America’s illegal workers problem. The Center’s Lee Wishing spoke with Helen Krieble about the red card. Ms. Krieble will be a speaker at the Center’s April 19 & 20 conference, “The Challenge 2012: The Divided Conservative Mind.”

The Moral Liberal Guest Writer, Helen E. Krieble, is founder and president of The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation and author of “Two Paths to Safety: A Private Sector Initiative to Break the Illegal Immigration Deadlock.”

This article was posted on The Moral Liberal.