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Migrants reach through a border wall for clothing handed out by volunteers, as they wait between two border walls to apply for asylum Friday, May 12, 2023, in San Diego. Hundreds of migrants remain waiting between the two walls, many for days. The U.S. entered a new immigration enforcement era Friday, ending a three-year-old asylum restriction and enacting a set of strict new rules that the Biden administration hopes will stabilize the U.S.-Mexico border and push migrants to apply for protections where they are, skipping the dangerous journey north. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Last Sunday, this newspaper published an op-ed written by my friend Dr. Jim Doti of Chapman University entitled “U.S-Mexico Border: Open It.”
Although I agree with the spirit of the column, I do not agree with the policy proposed by Dr. Doti.
Furthermore, I believe I have a better, more workable and more acceptable proposal.
Virtually everyone agrees that the situation on our southern border is a disaster, and there is really no relief in sight.
What to do?
I have a suggestion that was the brainchild of Larry Sharpe of New York, who was my former running mate when I was campaigning for the Libertarian nomination for president in early 2020.
It is called a program of “Two Ellis Islands.”
This program would authorize two private companies to install an immigration service center, probably with one being on the Texas-Mexican border and the other on the California-Mexican border.
Immigrants could go there, apply and pay a reasonable fee to the companies to process their application, which would include a background check for such things as mental, physical and criminal justice histories and even possible terrorist sympathies.
If the applicants passed the background check they could be provided with an “Orange Card” that would allow them to migrate to and work in any state that desired to be a part of the program. And if they could support their families, they could bring them as well. But these immigrants would be required to support themselves, as no welfare would be permitted except for truly emergency medical care and K-through-12 schooling for their children.
Furthermore, since each immigrant would be required to re-apply every two years, if they did not do so or were not compliant with the program, they could be deported. Finally, since their eventual employers would be required to pay a finder’s fee to the appropriate “Ellis Island” company, the program would be self-supportive.
Although there would be no change with our current governmental approach to immigration, soon many immigrants would see the benefits of going through this private system.
They could go back and forth across the border just like citizens and Green Card holders, and they could get driver’s licenses and pay their taxes and be able to live normal lives. That result would logically be seen by other immigrants who are now here illegally, and they would logically want to normalize their lives as well. So they could apply, too.
There are practical, public safety benefits to this proposal. Under our present system there are some lawless immigrants who threaten and harm the law-abiding ones. But most of the time the victims hesitate to call the police because that could put their presence here in jeopardy. But if the hard-working and law-abiding immigrants were on the Ellis Island program they would have no risk in calling the police on the thugs who were victimizing them.
Finally, since this private system would be self-sufficient and working for everyone’s benefits except the thugs, more Ellis Islands would logically be created and the present governmental system would recede in importance and size — which shouldn’t bother anyone except the bureaucrats.
So what do you think about this proposal?
James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, a former criminal defense attorney in Navy JAG Corps, federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and the Libertarian candidate for vice president in 2012, along with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.