Like most national debates these days, the debate on illegal immigration is superficial. For whatever reason the debate seems to be about profiling brown people vs protecting the border. Let's expand the debate to include the full panoply of issues. First, it's a no brainer that the US needs strong border, port and vital industry protection including the power grid, the chemical industry, the communications and internet networks. It's not just a matter of illegal workers coming over the border; that could be fixed with a legal bracero program; it's a matter of illegal drug shipments and other illegal materiel such as guns and weapons and cash. Some of these people and things are going north across the border; some are going south. It's important to put an end to all illegal cross border transgressions, not just illegal immigrants. This is where true national security lies - not in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the border is porous, terrorists can gain entry or they can come on student visas and then overstay their visa.
So it is a multi-faceted problem in which 'profiling brown people' is really a minor part. Criminal activity on the part of illegal border crossers is a major concern. The debate seems to be between those who want stronger border protection first and then dealing with the illegal immigrant population second and those who want "comprehensive immigration reform" which translates to amnesty for all illegal immigrants present in the US today first and whatever regarding the border second. I say the first problem is protecting the border so as to stanch the flow of new illegal immigrants because they continue to come across the border on a daily basis. What to do with the illegal immigrants already in the US is a secondary problem.
The major problem is that, while the military budget is approximately $1 trillion for FY 2011, the Homeland Security budget is a paltry $54.7 billion. Clearly, the resources for protecting the borders and vital installations is a fraction of the Pentagon budget. This indicates that US priorities are all wrong. While money and resources are lavished and to a large extent wasted on the military, real defense of the US is neglected. Why? Because vested interests in the military-industrial complex want to keep it that way. There is no doubt that, if a couple hundred billion was transferred from the Pentagon to Homeland Security, not one single illegal immigrant would be capable of infiltrating the border. While drug lords in Mexico have sophisticated submarines, the Coast Guard has no anti-submarine capability while the US Navy has all sorts of submarine and anti-submarine capabilities. This shows the trifling resources that are allocated to Homeland Security. My main point is that border, port and vital industry protection and strengthening are possible if the resources are allocated to them and that Homeland Security represents real defense needs while wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere represent secondary or tertiary defense needs at most. Our priorities are backwards. While resources allocated to the Pentagon allow for the invention of every military technological trinket money can possibly buy, real defense goes begging. Real border security demands a sophisticated satellite and drone surveillance system integrated with rapid response teams on the ground, an electronic fence if you will.
Comprehensive immigration reform should definitely include deportation as one option. That is not to say that every illegal immigrant should be deported, but unless some are as a deterrent, they will not be disincentivized from coming across the border illegally especially if zero illegal cross border infractions doesn't become a major goal. What needs to happen is that identified illegal immigrants residing in the US should be treated on a case by case basis. Obviously, the criminals among them should be summarily deported. Some of those with deep roots in their communities who have been in the US a long time and have families and businesses should probably be accommodated according to what advocates for comprehensive immigration reform mainly want - a pathway to citizenship. Some illegal immigrants who have raised families in the US may have more family members who are legal American citizens than those who aren't. Some sort of court of appeal needs to be set up.
Those for whom it's decided that they should be deported should also be accommodated to the extent that deportation need not be immediate. In some cases time may be necessary in order to wind down or sell businesses or time may be needed to accomodate those who are close to graduation so they can graduate. Deportation, another name for which is repatriation, need not be a completely negative experience. People and families can be relocated (in many cases just a few miles away) with Federal and Mexican national assistance so that their transition need be no more jarring than a move from one town to another within the US to take another job. Which illegal immigrants should be "legalized" in some sense would be left to a court of appeal. All those who are legalized need not be given a "path to citizenship." There are other forms of legal residency besides citizenship. And their legal residency could be time limited.
The whole debate about racial profiling is simply ridiculous. A cop making a traffic stop always asks for ID. He just doesn't ask for ID if he suspects that you're not an American citizen. The cop then runs a computer check from his vehicle to see if you have a prison record. He can and should routinely check social security numbers or any other database that would indicate legal or illegal citizenship status such as E-verify. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce according to the E-verify website. So cops have access to the internet from their patrol vehicles so why can't they tap into the E-verify database to determine if someone they stop for a traffic violation is legal or not? The burden of proof should be on the cop not on the person stopped to verify citizenship. This removes the onerous aspects of people having to present their papers or cops having to ask, "Papers, please."
Checking legal citizenship or green card status should be done just as a matter of course and not just for people with brown skins. There are definitely a number of white skinned people who are in the US illegally and some for nefarious purposes. A national ID card or secure social security card, while desirable, isn't really even necessary as long as some form of ID, and I guess it would be a DRIVER'S LICENSE for those detained in a traffic stop, is presented. The cop has access to multiple databases from his internet connected vehicle and can and should check every one out, not just brown people. Of course, a secure ID card would also be desirable as a first step. Almost everyone sooner or later is stopped by a cop while driving for a traffic violation having nothing to do with racial profiling. If every one is checked at that time for all previous violations criminal or otherwise including citizenship violations, I think this is entirely appropriate.
So the debate need not be all or nothing. Like all sticky wickets and thorny thickets this problem is not black and white. There is a lot of gray. The border needs to be protected big time. Residents of the US need to be legal, or legalized in some sense or deported. Crossing the border illegally needs to be disincentivized.