Judge Gray: Immigration Is An Easy Fix

Here is the newest column from James Gray.  It will be published on Sunday in the Daily Pilot newspaper, which is distributed to a few cities in Orange County with the Los Angeles Times, under the heading “It’s a Gray Area”.

 

The Functional Libertarian
February 28, 2013

One of the easiest problem areas to resolve is our failed immigration system. In fact, had the politicians really wanted to fix this system, they would have done it decades ago. The problem is that they don’t want to. Why? Because some powerful Republicans continue to want the cheap labor; and some powerful Democrats want large numbers of people to continue to enter the country, because eventually they will vote for Democrats. But this situation has literally resulted in severe and unnecessary harm being inflicted upon millions of people.

Candidly, I never get upset at people who come here illegally, because they are only doing what our ancestors did: they have come here – often at significant peril and expense – to work hard and thus have a better life for themselves and their children. Furthermore, I try never to use the term “illegal immigrant,” because people are never illegal. So, although imperfect, I find the term “undocumented workers” to be more appropriate.

But now there does seem to be a change in the political winds, such that politicians are beginning to talk seriously about fixing this broken and heartless system. And it’s about time!
How can it be fixed? In three steps. First, our government should issue work permits quite freely to anyone who wants them. The process will simply require the payment of an appropriate administrative fee and a background check to be run for criminal, disease and mental health problems. In addition, if the applicants can show that they can provide financially for their family members, they can bring them too. But no one here under this system will qualify for things like welfare, non-emergency medical care, etc.

Second, everyone who is issued a work permit, and their family members, will be furnished an identification card that cannot be counterfeited. Technology now easily makes this possible through fingerprints or the iris of one’s eyes.

Third, any company or person that hires anyone that is not a citizen, or holder of a valid green card or work permit will be subject to prosecution. Today’s system of identification is so filled with holes and fraud that it is inappropriate to punish employers for non-compliance. But the new system will change that situation.

There will be a phase-in period, maybe a year, for everyone to adjust to and comply with this new system. This would allow the “bugs” to be worked out, and also allow time for everyone concerned to see that the new system is fair and equitable for all. But thereafter, anyone present in our country illegally will face permanent banishment.

Many good things will flow from this new approach. Workers and their families will be able to cross our borders in both directions without danger or having to pay “coyotes” or smugglers for their services. The workers will also be held to pay their taxes, and, since they are here legally, be able to apply for and receive driver’s licenses and comply with automobile insurance requirements. In addition, people will not be “trapped” here like they are today, because now it is so dangerous and expensive to go back to their home country and later return that many people simply stay here instead. In other words, those who come here will be able to lead more normal lives.

Similarly, employers will have a more reliable source of workers, as well as less legal uncertainty about hiring them. This would be particularly beneficial in agricultural businesses, because now about half of all workers who pick crops in our country are estimated to be here illegally, which makes the labor market undependable.

Finally, some reasonable system should be implemented for those who wish to apply for citizenship to our country. Of course, that means that two thorny and contradictory situations will have to be addressed. First, we should recognize the inequity of having people who came or stayed here illegally “jump the line” in front of large numbers of others from all over the world who have applied for entry or citizenship under our laws and waited their turn. But second, some account should be made for people who have been here for a long time, such as 15 to 20 years, who almost literally have no country to go back to.
And speaking about thorny issues, we must also address and finally resolve whether or not the Fourteenth Amendment actually does or should allow anyone who is born within our borders automatically to become a citizen. In that regard, we should consider that the thrust of this amendment, which was ratified in 1868 after the end of the Civil War, was simply to grant citizenship to the freed slaves. That is why the amendment provided that people who qualified for citizenship were already “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.

Obviously as we fix this entire immigration system we will have to deal with some emotional and complicated issues. But none of them are irresolvable, as long as members of congress have the political will. For the good of our country and almost everybody in it, it is up to each of us to be sure that they do.

James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Superior Court in Orange County, California, the author of “A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems” (The Forum Press, 2010), and the 2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with Governor Gary Johnson for President. Judge Gray can be contacted at JimPGray@sbcglobal.net.

46 thoughts on “Judge Gray: Immigration Is An Easy Fix

  1. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I appreciate a compassionate discussion of the people who come to our country without following all the rules, but I have a problem with employers being punished for hiring someone who is undocumented. I’m an employer–not an immigration agent.

    I would suggest to Judge Gray that keeping businesses afloat should trump unecessary paperwork.

  2. Warren Redlich

    “Third, any company or person that hires anyone that is not a citizen, or holder of a valid green card or work permit will be subject to prosecution.”

    Doesn’t sound very libertarian. Authoritarian maybe.

    And Amen to ^1. 🙂

  3. James Babb

    Wow. Work permits, IDs, banishments… How much force will he initiate against those who disagree?

    Please Judge Gray, be “libertarian just one time.”

  4. Robert Capozzi

    Conflicted here. If an employer hires people off the books, the employer has a comparative advantage over those who comply with the law. Do we want a legal system that encourages lawlessness?

  5. Andy

    “Robert Capozzi // Feb 28, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Conflicted here. If an employer hires people off the books, the employer has a comparative advantage over those who comply with the law. Do we want a legal system that encourages lawlessness?”

    All employers should hire everyone off the books.

  6. Eric Sundwall

    1. “In addition, if the applicants can show that they can provide financially for their family members, they can bring them too.”

    Just exactly how would this work? Sounds like job security for thousands of bureaucrats.

    Same with second “easy” step.

    3. “Subject to prosecution” – sounds like a judge more than a person who ever ran their own business . . .

    Functional: Let employers decide who they employ via voluntary contracts, don’t tie citizenship to job related matters.

  7. Robert Capozzi

    5 a: All employers should hire everyone off the books.

    me: “Should”? Interesting. You point to a ubiquitously off-the-grid world, it appears.

  8. paulie

    Conflicted here. If an employer hires people off the books, the employer has a comparative advantage over those who comply with the law.

    Is the law to hire people “on the books” legitimate? IMO no. Thus I see nothing wrong with violating it.

    Which I have done many times, both as an employer and as an employee.

    I have zero interest in working “on the books”. When I’m in a position to hire people again, I have zero interest in hiring anyone “on the books.” And I won’t.

  9. paulie

    5 a: All employers should hire everyone off the books.

    me: “Should”? Interesting. You point to a ubiquitously off-the-grid world, it appears.

    The more people disobey illegitimate edicts the better. As they become increasingly flouted, more people feel free to join in in disobeying them, and they soon become unenforceable anachronisms. As they should.

  10. paulie

    BTW, despite my disagreement with the statist part of Judge Gray’s proposed solution, I still recognize that it is relatively libertarian compared with what a lot of conservatives want to do. That’s where he comes from and a preponderance of the people he’s talking to, so it’s no wonder that some of his opinions still have a conservative side to them. I also remember reading a past column of his, before the election iirc, which was if anything worse on immigration. I’d have to find it, though.

  11. Robert Capozzi

    11 p: The more people disobey illegitimate edicts the better.

    me: Perhaps. I’m not so sure. Yes, it might be interesting if the Fortune 500 tomorrow said to all their employees, starting tomorrow, you are all independent contractors. I don’t see why they’d want to do that, as a large number of their employees like the security that a big company affords them, including rich benefits and good pay.

    It’s possible that leads to a better world, though. Then again, it might not.

    This seems to largely be an academic question, since I don’t see any large move in your direction. One thing that IS happening is that many companies are shifting their mix of employees away from full time to part time, in part to avoid offering benefits.

  12. paulie

    This seems to largely be an academic question, since I don’t see any large move in your direction.

    Actually, in the last few years, I’ve noticed more people working and hiring off the books. Might be the economy. I think it will pick up with Obamacare and various other crap kicking in this year and next year.

  13. Robert Capozzi

    Yes, P, off the books has been with us for as long as I can remember. It used to be called the “underground economy.” It may be on the upswing.

    Notice, though, I said “large move in your direction.” I guess we’ll find out if VERY large percentages of the pop. go off grid.

  14. paulie

    It may be on the upswing.

    I think between the economy and the steep increase in paperwork, fees and regulations that come with being on the books it is definitely on an upswing and will continue to be an upswing, which I see as a good thing.

  15. Robert Capozzi

    P, devious! ObamaCare, you imply, is actually HELPFUL for liberty’s long-term prospects.

    Interesting perspective.

    My preference is for people to not have to resort to opaque workarounds to make their daily bread. It feels shifty and uncertain to me, but then people gotta do what they gotta do.

  16. Paulie

    I don’t think it’s necessarily good for liberty’s long term perspectives. It may turn out to be, in a roundabout way, but generally I think revolutionary changes tend to follow incremental changes in the direction the revolutionaries want, not the “bubble bursting” model that’s implied by Obamacare being “good” for liberty in the long term.

    The informal sector is huge in third world countries. The “rules” are just too complicated and expensive to follow, and it seems we are headed in that direction. Maybe not yet quite so far as, say, Mexico or Brazil, but probably in Italy territory pretty soon.

  17. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    In California, it’s increasingly difficult to run a business, and the taxes and regulations involved are a good part of it. Payroll taxes continue to rise, as does unemployment insuranmce. Health insurance is probably the biggest issue for most of us. Even my little family had to take a $2500 deductible just to keep it affordable, although State Farm pays for me. You won’t believe how many companies will drop to 49 employees if Obamacare is strictly enforced (I say if because I think it will be impossible to get everyone to comply, sort of what we were talking about above.)

    It’s unlikely that I would hire someone from another country because my team members need to be licensed, and it’s not really easy to do that, but it still aggravates me that I can’t.

    I never, ever thought my business would be so difficult at this point in my career, but there are unique competitive issues here, and our industry is heavily regulated. I don’t think it’s this bad in other states.

    Tomorrow is my 29 year anniversay with my company (not that anyone asked). Wow, I must be getting old.

  18. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC @ 15,

    “I guess we’ll find out if VERY large percentages of the pop. go off grid.”

    If by “off the grid” you mean “work for cash, barter, etc. so as not to be encumbered by government taxation and regulation,” my impression back in the late 1980s and early 1990s was that perhaps 10-15% of the population already did so at least part-time and often full-time.

    At my first full-time job, I successively worked with three different people as I changed positions.

    When I worked as a welder’s helper, the welder I worked with worked 40 hours a week “on the books,” sold a few ounces of marijuana a week, and ran an informal welding and auto body shop out of his home garage on weekends.

    When I moved from there to the room where boat furniture was cut and drilled, the guy I worked with spent most weekends driving cars back and forth for dealers he knew (small enough operations — at that time, Lebanon, Missouri had more used car dealers per capita than any place on earth, most of them tiny — that putting the cars on transport trucks didn’t scale as well as paying him a driving fee plus gas costs).

    Then I moved to the room where the cut wooden boat parts were chemically treated. The guy I worked with there mowed yards for cash most evenings and all weekend.

    A couple of years later, I went to work at a bar. The owner paid all the workers in cash, no tax withholding, etc. He said it was just cheaper to pretend it was his income and pay income taxes, self-employment taxes, etc. on it than it was to fuck with the paperwork of having “employees” (I suspect he did some additional creative book-keeping as well, of course).

    All that was before I became a libertarian and started really noticing the off-the-books economy, hanging out with intentionally “off the grid” people, etc., My impression is that the percentage of people working partly or fully “off the books” has gone way up since the 1980s, but that may be due to the change in crowds I hang out with and to heightened attention on my part to the phenomenon.

  19. paulie

    I think it’s also because it is growing in general.

    It’s somewhat of a rule that when you have more red tape you have more people not willing to put up with it.

    Some of that is cultural – for example, Germans will put up with more red tape than most people – but it’s a general rule.

    And there’s more red tape, taxes and paperwork that go with hiring someone these days.

  20. Andy

    I think that with the grow of Bitcoins, that more of the economy is going to go “off the books.”

    For those who don’t know, Bitcoins are a new (it started in 2007) form of digital cash that is encrypted. There are people around the world using it and it has been gaining in popularity and value. The government would have a very difficult time shutting it down since it is decentralized.

    The Libertarian Party ought to strongly consider getting behind Bitcoins (as in passing a resolution in support of it, and promoting it). There are already a few Libertarian Party candidates who have done this, but I’m talking about the party as a whole getting behind it.

  21. paulie

    I agree about Bitcoin, but I don’t think that’s something the LP as a whole needs to comment on. Individual candidates can though.

  22. Andy

    “paulie // Feb 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    I agree about Bitcoin, but I don’t think that’s something the LP as a whole needs to comment on. Individual candidates can though.”

    Why not? LP national as well as state and local party chapters have put out resolutions before in support of issues. There ought to be a resolution passed by the national party saying that the Libertarian Party supports Bitcoins and other forms of alternative currencies, and this should be distributed to as many media outlets as possible and brought up in interviews with LP staff members as well as members of the LNC.

  23. Andy

    Also, it is possible for the LP to accept donations in Bitcoins. The Bitcoins are sent and there are services that will convert them to Federal Reserve Notes. The donors still have to fill in the FEC information, but there it is perfectly legal to send the donation in Bitcoins. I know of at least one LP candidate who has done this so far, and I know of at least one other candidate who has done this who I think was running as a Republican (I think that it was somebody with the Free State Project in New Hampshire).

    The LNC should add a Bitcoin donation link to the http://www.LP.org website. This would be a good way to show support for alternative currencies, and it also would show that the Libertarian Party is “cool” and is on the “cutting edge.”

  24. paulie

    http://www.lp.org/platform

    2.5 Money and Financial Markets

    We favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We support a halt to inflationary monetary policies and unconstitutional legal tender laws.

    However, regardless of how some of us feel as individuals, I don’t think the LP as an organization should comment on any one alternative currency.

    Also, until and unless it becomes a major issue in the news, it’s not really something that we should issue press releases about.

  25. Andy

    Paulie said: “However, regardless of how some of us feel as individuals, I don’t think the LP as an organization should comment on any one alternative currency. ”

    I see no legitimate reason why the party can’t put out a statement like, “We support the efforts of those who are involved with Bitcoins.” or something like that.

  26. Andy

    The Libertarian Party has a chance to be the first political party to accept donations in Bitcoins. Not only would this be cool, I think that it would generate publicity. Somebody should get on this ASAP.

  27. Chuck Moulton

    Andy wrote (@26):

    Also, it is possible for the LP to accept donations in Bitcoins.

    Paulie wrote (@28):

    I favor this.

    Me too. I’ll look into it for Virginia after a few of our higher priority projects are finished (candidate recruitment, membership drive).

  28. Andy

    I think that the Libertarian Party accepting donations in Bitcoins ought to be done quickly, so the LP can be the first political party to do this. This can generate some good publicity for the party if handled properly.

  29. Gene Berkman

    TK @ 8 – actually Roseanne was closer to channeling Kim Il Sung, with her calls for socialism.

    She would probably cop to channeling Che Guevara, whose picture decorated her T-shirt.

  30. paulie

    actually Roseanne was closer to channeling Kim Il Sung, with her calls for socialism

    Not all socialists are as totalitarian as the North Korean regime.

    She would probably cop to channeling Che Guevara, whose picture decorated her T-shirt.

    Lots of people on the US left are unaware of Che’s authoritarian side. They think he was a cool rebellious guy.

  31. Thomas L. Knapp

    GB @ 33,

    I expect Roseanne to call for socialism, since she’s an avowed socialist.

    What I didn’t used to expect — but got anyway — was for someone like Roseanne, a self-described socialist, to be more libertarian than the Libertarian Party’s last two vice-presidential nominees on issues like immigration and drugs.

    For that matter, Roseanne ran for president as a socialist … and the Libertarian Party ran a presidential candidate who had, as one of his key platform planks, a monthly federal welfare check for every man, woman and child in the United States.

    I’d say that’s a wash at best, and probably not even that. The Peace and Freedom Party’s platform isn’t as libertarian as the Libertarian Party’s platform, but at least the Peace and Freedom Party can be counted on to actually support the parts of its platform that ARE libertarian, while the LP has proven two presidential cycles in a row that it can’t be.

    I’d rather work with a party whose platform I only 50% agree with, knowing it has my back on that 50%, than with a party that supposedly agrees with me on pretty much everything, but can’t be relied upon to stand for anything.

    My Peace and Freedom Party membership card arrived in the mail the other day.

  32. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie,

    Nope. I have no intention of going back to voting.

    I joined P&FP because a friend (Darcy Richardson) requested my assistance with building a Florida organization. I agreed to help out because he’s a friend and because I know that in return he’ll let me make some use of the bullhorn I help assemble to push some issues I care about (the ones on which my views accord with the party platform, naturally).

    If nothing else, I hope to make the Florida LP work its ass off trying to be more libertarian than the P&FP on foreign policy, immigration and marriage.

  33. Andy

    “Thomas L. Knapp // Mar 1, 2013 at 12:12 am

    GB @ 33,

    I expect Roseanne to call for socialism, since she’s an avowed socialist.”

    According to the website Celebrity Net Worth, Roseanne Barr is worth $80 million.

    http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/actors/roseanne-barr-net-worth/

    If she is really for socialism, why doesn’t she give all of her money away, or at least most of it? $80 million is a lot more than one person needs to live, so if she is really such an avowed socialist, she should be willing to give most of that money away and only keep enough to cover her basic living expenses.

    $80 million is far more than one person needs to live, so Roseanne could help a lot of downtrodden people by giving most of that money away to help them. Certainly she doesn’t want to live a “Life Style of the Rich and Famous” while at the same time preaching socialism, because then she’d look like a hypocrite, or does she not care about being a hypocrite?

  34. Andy

    “41 Thomas L. Knapp // Mar 1, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Andy,

    You might want to do a little reading on socialism.I don’t think it means what you seem to think it means.”

    I’ve done plenty of reading on socialism, and I know that it was actually a scam perpetrated by ultra-wealthy bankers to con the public back into serfdom.

    Socialism has sucked in some wealthy do-gooder types like Roseanne Barr. I’ve had plenty of experience in dealing with Limousine Liberals like Ms. Barr.

  35. Thomas L. Knapp

    Andy @ 42,

    If you’ve done plenty of reading on socialism, then you know it means “worker ownership of the means of production,” not “anyone who has money has to give it away or they’re a hypocrite.”

    As it happens, I don’t support state socialism in general, or the Peace and Freedom Party’s version of it in particular. But I have no reason to believe that Roseanne doesn’t, nor is her net worth evidence that she doesn’t.

  36. Andy

    “Thomas L. Knapp // Mar 1, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Andy @ 42,

    If you’ve done plenty of reading on socialism, then you know it means worker ownership of the means of production,’ not ‘anyone who has money has to give it away or they’re a hypocrite.'”

    Workers can own the means of production by investing in the stock market or starting their own business, both of which they can more readily do when the are in a market where the government does not take a large percentage of what they earn through taxes.

    So tell me, does Roseanne Barr support a free market economy with little to no taxation, so that workers actually have money to invest so they can own the means of production, or does she support a high tax welfare state, which breeds government dependence and workers not having the means to invest in the means of production and instead having to work for big government or big corporations in order to make a living?

    “As it happens, I don’t support state socialism in general, or the Peace and Freedom Party’s version of it in particular.”

    Then it is quite odd that you’d join this party, especially being that they are pretty insignificant.

    I do know that the Peace and Freedom Party has been around for a long time, and that they were national at one point. I also know that they had a libertarian faction at one time, and that it included Murray Rothbard, but the socialist faction of the Peace and Freedom Party took over and the libertarians left it a long time ago. Are you attempting to bring back a libertarian faction to the Peace and Freedom Party, or are you just doing this for some other reason, perhaps you are in it for extra money, or maybe you think it makes you look cool, or you are just because you are bored, or for shits and giggles?

    “But I have no reason to believe that Roseanne doesn’t, nor is her net worth evidence that she doesn’t.”

    It tells me that she’s a hypocrite or she does not understand economics.

  37. Thomas L. Knapp

    Andy @ 44,

    “Workers can own the means of production by investing in the stock market or starting their own business, both of which they can more readily do when the are in a market where the government does not take a large percentage of what they earn through taxes.”

    True.

    “So tell me, does Roseanne Barr support”

    If you want to know what she supports, you should probably ask her, not me.

    “Are you attempting to bring back a libertarian faction to the Peace and Freedom Party”

    Nope.

    “or are you just doing this for some other reason”

    I explain my reasons @ 37.

    “perhaps you are in it for extra money”

    Nope. So far, the money (low double digit dollars so far) and time (low double digit hours so far) are flowing from me to P&FP, not the other way around, and I expect it to remain that way.

    If I do any paid work for P&FP, it will be on my usual basis — I’ll charge as little as I can, and I’ll only charge at all if so much of my work is needed (and nobody else competent to do it is available to do it) that it’s costing me significant earnings potential elsewhere that I absolutely have to make up for, or if I need to have out-of-pocket expenses for the work itself reimbursed.

  38. paulie

    I’ve done paid work for Peace and Freedom Party before. I have different views with them on some issues, particularly economic, but there’s a lot I agree with them on. They’re better in taking a strong stance on peace and civil liberties issues than many in the LP.

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