In light of a judge staying some parts of the Arizona immigration law, I answering a comment on about what the US should do about illegal immigration on Facebook, I wrote:
I don’t believe the part about having to learn English should be legally mandated; it should be highly recommended or at least give you "points" towards convincing the immigration agency towards giving citizenship but it shouldn’t be forced.
I do not believe mass deportation would be either fiscally reasonable nor would it be helpful. For one, those people are very likely to cross the border back into the US, making the resources used on the initial and consecutive deportations a waste. The bigger problem is the logistic of deportation, and the cost. I’m supportive of deportation (and life-time ban) of illegals with otherwise criminal backgrounds but otherwise, if the undocumented are here with good intention and do not have a criminal record, they’re a benefit to the economy as workers, producers and purchasers of American goods. Illegals may take many jobs out there but those jobs are jobs most Americans don’t want to do — and they create jobs by spending that money. The money they send back to where they are from (remittances) tends to be used to buy American-made goods, too, so it comes back.
The vast majority of undocumented workers do pay taxes in one form or another. If the employer pays under the table, then the employer basically pays the tax for the undocumented worker in the form of business taxes. If the employer pays the undocumented worker in any normal manner, the undocumented worker ends up paying taxes just like any other normal person. Undocumented workers also live here in the US, meaning they pay sales taxes and, since they’d probably be renting, pay rent and pay property taxes indirectly by paying that rent. In essence, undocumented workers do pay taxes; some don’t pay all the taxes one would expect of them but they normally don’t because they don’t have the choice to. If they had to, they would; but they don’t because there’s no way they possibly can.
As for citizenship, it should be a choice of returning to where they are from or applying for PERMANENT RESIDENT ALIEN status. There is no dichotomy of citizen or non-citizen. There are many different forms of residency statuses, including Resident Alien status which gives immigrants the right to permanent residency unless deported for criminal behavior. They cannot vote nor receive some government benefits (they cannot apply for a lot of government-backed college aid, for example), but they will be able to live and work here until they decide to leave. They can maintain their allegiance to their country of origin but they would have to still function as if they were a citizen in the US except what I stated above.
If they wish to, after a certain amount of time of working regularly and avoiding criminal behavior, they should be allowed to apply for citizenship status. I do believe that, under normal circumstances, Permanent Resident Aliens can apply for citizenship after living in the US for 8 years.
I believe this is superior to what Reagan did which was basically full amnesty which gives the undocumented full citizenship. They are here illegally which means they did violate federal law, albeit minor ones (it’s not a huge crime to be in the US undocumented), by not reporting themselves to either immigration (if their visas expired) or at the border, so it’s not like they should be let off the hook completely easily and given citizenship. Proof they deserve it would be nice.