The Ellis Island solution

Tue, 06/05/2007 - 4:21pm
By: The Citizen


A recent survey we conducted for a private group revealed that most Americans believe in an “Ellis Island” approach as a realistic way to deal with illegal aliens living in the United States. Policymakers might want to listen up.

It’s now dawned on Republicans in the U.S. Senate that their embrace of President Bush’s policy solution for illegal immigration has put those senators running for re-election next year in a precarious spot.

Too many people see the bill before Congress as a convoluted way of offering “amnesty for sale” to illegals in the United States. And the more senators in support of the bill study its details, the more they come to realize that it has so many requirements and penalties for immigrants that no one in a practical bent of mind should probably reject it.

Regardless, many Americans see two problems with the legislation. First, many resentfully recall that their own ancestors or relatives who immigrated here from places like Ireland in times of great economic hardship did so through one designated place — Ellis Island in New York City. That portal into America served to process those immigrants and put them on the road to becoming part of the fabric of this nation.

Second, the proposed new federal legislation fails to provide an immigration process that’s guaranteed against bureaucratic loopholes.

Plenty of Americans, particularly plenty of the Republican Party’s conservative voting base, are skeptical that immigrants subject to the bill’s provisions will ever do more than simply pay a series of ongoing fees to keep them in the country.

Our InsiderAdvantage survey showed that a majority of Americans believe the most practical approach is to establish certain processing locations. There, illegals already living here would “surrender” to authorities.

What would Americans expect from these replications of Ellis Island? First, what they wouldn’t expect is that they would be glorified prisons. Instead, they would serve many overlapping and complementary purposes. They’d be holding and processing facilities of a sort, where everything from an immigrant’s health to his or her possible criminal background could be checked.

What would these housed immigrants do there? Work on public projects — building roads and schools, or providing manpower on the kinds of construction, transportation or public-private service projects that are gaining so much popularity in many states. Why the heck not?

Most importantly, American citizens would expect our new “Ellis Island” to culturally assimilate those who enter. The poll shows that Americans would like to see a requirement that immigrants become functionally literate in English before even being considered for permanent residence here.

Would this plan present logistical headaches? Absolutely. But probably no more, if as many, than those brought about by a plan to build a gargantuan fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Even so, it’s fair to ask where such assimilation centers might be built and how much they would cost. But our poll respondents believe America has spent so much money rebuilding and otherwise supporting foreign countries that redirecting some funds to deal head-on with this pressing domestic problem suddenly seems smart.

What I’ve outlined here is a unique proposal, granted. I’m not surprised. Experience in polling has taught me that the American public is often both more reasonable and imaginative in hatching doable new public policies than are their elected representatives in Washington.

Let’s put it this way: Why was an “Ellis Island” approach good for the goose of American history, but not for the gander of the present day? Millions of Americans have ancestors from Italy or Ireland or wherever, who were granted American citizenship, but who had to do a bit more than put two feet on American soil before earning that status. Why wouldn’t the same process be fair now? ask our poll respondents.

All this is a day late and a dollar short, of course. Rather than looking to the past for answers, our political leaders once again have broken the rules by trying to reinvent them. By trying to make everyone happy, they’ve made most everyone angry.

Still, there’s a lesson to be learned from our poll: When you’ve got a skeptical public, give them an intuitively sensible policy plan they can visualize. They’ll meet you more than halfway.

[Matt Towery served as the chairman of former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s political organization from 1992 until Gingrich left Congress. He is a former Georgia state representative, the author of several books and currently heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.] COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Wed, 06/13/2007 - 6:40pm.

What this fellow wants (as I understand it) is a place to incarcerate about 15 million illegals, voluntarily of course, work them at hard labor; sort them as to criminals and not criminals (by asking them I suppose) take care of their health (at Grady here, I assume)and "culturally assimilate" them by teaching them English (I suppose by the CIA system of Rosetta Stone). Half of we citizens can't speak English now! I suppose to teach them to say: need job; will take low pay; will admit to being a criminal; will submit my blood, DNA, hair follicles, finger prints, and a complete family history back to Montezuma and Shaka Zulu.
Now 15 million divided by 50 states and Puerto Rico, would be about 300,000 per state to incorporate, assimilate, teach, treat, and get a job.
300,000 divided by 500 (number in each "station" equal 600 stations needed in each state. Now we know Mississippi, Alabama, Hawaii, North Dakota, and about 10 others are incapable of running 600 "stations, so we need to increase the other states a bit to say 600 stations per state.
We could locate about a hundred of these stations along the Mexican border to help build the new fence---we are going to build a fence aren't we?
As I see it we would need about 500 hundred workers plus supervisors (50), to run each station. 550 times 600 stations equals 330,000 new jobs created all at once.
Now to build 600 stations for 500 people each would require about 3 million dollars per station to do the sleeping quarters, cooking facilities, hospital, rec areas, etc., which would mean a cost of one billion, eight hundred million dollars, budgeted, but we know it will over run 100%, so lets say four billion, plus interest. Chicken feed!
If we can get them out of the compound as fast as we can put them in from the border (they will be glad to get into the compound) we won't have to build any more compounds until they tear those up (5 years, estimate).
By the way, didn't we just check them in to Ellis Island and dump them into Brooklyn in a few days, or was it the same day? I know a bunch of Scotch-Irish came into Appalachia in a hurry in the 17-1800s.
I didn't mention the cost of running these facilities because it would make you ill. 300,000 government workers times 60,000 dollars, plus utilities, food, maintenance, halliburton contracts, etc......

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