One of the main problems with America's immigration policy is that it tries to set numbers regardless of the country's current economic condition. There are times when our economy is soaring and we need immigrant workers. There are also times when our economy slows down and we don't need as much immigrant help.
If the US could devise a market-based policy for immigration that would naturally ride with these ebbs and flows, it would be fair, adaptable, and could last for generations.
Following is one such plan:
A market-based immigration policy could be largely achieved with the implementation of an "Infrastructure Surcharge Tax" that would be shared by both the employer and the employee.
The "Infrastructure Surcharge Tax" (or IST,) would be an additional payroll tax that should go to the state in which the immigrant is employed. That individual state would know best its own needs from the impact of these new residents and would be in the best position to put the money to good use; whether it be schools, roads, or police.
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A key aspect to this plan is to have the EMPLOYER pay part of the IST. Why? Because it would then be cheaper to hire an American. During times of economic slow down when companies are looking to reduce payroll, keeping american workers would be cheaper than keeping immigrant workers, saving Americans their jobs. If a particular immigrant is important enough to the company that they are willing to pay the IST and keep him or her, then that is fine too; it's a free market and a free country.
With this market-based plan, we could easily and seemlessly keep some of the brighter people who are studying for college degrees in our country from abroad.
(The author is not an economist, so the following numbers are merely to illustrate the concept--Congress can figure out what numbers would be best...)
Let's say for example, that the IST is an additional 5% of payroll. The worker might pay 3% and the employer the other 2%. It should be noted that this tax would hardly be frivolous. It would have a real purpose helping to defray the costs of providing the additional infrastructure necessary for the new residents.
A Plan to EARN One's Way to US Citizenship:
If, after 15 years (again an example,) the immigrant has invested his or her life toward helping build our country AND they've paid income tax, social security tax, medicare tax, sales tax and the additional Infrastructure Surcharge Tax; (AND they haven't committed any felonies;) then they SHOULD get a vote to help determine how that money is spent! Welcome to the USA!
This way, citizenship is EARNED. It's a fair and level playing field for all concerned.
Of course, there are other issues that Congress would need to address like unemployment. Perhaps a sliding scale could be devised to determine when is one eligible and for how long; but the Congress and the states' legislatures can work out these particulars justly.
This market-based plan would get illegal workers out of the shadows. It would be an easy way for businesses to comply to immigration laws the moment they have need for extra workers.
Best of all, this plan would allow for the natural up and down fluxes of the economy and could last, with some tweaks, for the foreseeable future.
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