The US currently has a number of problems on our plate, and our attempts to handle them all sometimes reminds me of Steve Martin’s infamous “kitten juggling.” But it occurred to me that we just might be able to use one problem to solve another.
The cleanup in New Orleans is going to take a long, long time. It’s going to be filthy, backbreaking work, quite likely extending into years.
Meanwhile, we still have our crisis with illegal aliens. While we struggle to care for the potentially hundreds of thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina, we still have this countless number of other “refugees” from other countries who flout our laws and invade us by the thousands each day. Many of them are forming a permanent “underclass” that ends up driving down wages and costing the nation millions.
So, here’s my radical idea: a “work program” that offers a simple deal: work for citizenship.
Illegal aliens who would like to be given citizenship will have to sign up for one year of working on cleaning up New Orleans. For that one year, they will work five days a week, 8 hours a day, in shifts 24-7, helping to clean up and restore the city. And at the end of the year, they will be granted US citizenship.
Here is some of the fine print I’ve come up with:
1) While working, they will be paid minimum wage. But an equal amount will be deposited into an escrow account, given to them when they are awarded their citizenship.
2) They will be provided with food, shelter, health care, and other benefits — nearly all expenses will be covered while they are working.
3) Anyone who signs up, then leaves, will be deported immediately.
4) On one of their two days off, they will attend English lessons (if necessary) and citizenship classes. Once they pass those, they may be offered other classes such as GED or college-credit classes.
Defenders of illegal aliens often say that “they’re only doing the jobs Americans don’t want to do,” and say that they are actually being exploited by their employers. Well, here’s one big job that very few Americans would want, and while it can be argued that they’re being exploited, we’re offering them a huge payoff in the end.
I think it’s worth kicking around.