Immigration reform is once again a hot-button issue in the nation’s capitol, with some lawmakers urging a delay in the wake of the Boston bombings, while others like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) say the recent terror attacks highlight a need to fix a broken immigration system.
Many proposed ideas include securing the borders more thoroughly, creating a pathway for children, and enforcing existing laws.
A plan proposed by former Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, Edward Lazear, actually involves paying for U.S. citizenship.
“At first blush it sounds crazy but here’s why it’s not: these things should be allocated appropriately, meaning we get the right people coming in, both in terms of skills and ability to contribute entrepreneurship," he said. "We want the system to be fair, and we have the problem of 12 million people here illegally…we believe if you sold the right to become a citizen it would deal with all three of these in a better way than the current system.”
Lazear is suggesting a $50,000 price for citizenship, saying an unskilled worker in Mexico earns about $10,000 less than in the U.S. Adjusted for the cost of living, he says that within 10 years $50,000 would be a worthwhile fee.
While $50,000 is a steep price for many immigrants who come to the U.S. to become successful, Lazear says people should be allowed to borrow the money and pay it back out of their earnings over an extended period of time. Family members could also pay to have their relatives come to the U.S. much more quickly, promoting family reunification.
An obvious issue that comes up with this plan, especially when living in a world where terrorist attacks have become a reality, is security. Lazear says, “We wouldn’t change the rules…anyone coming into the United States would have to pass the same screens that they pass now. You’re not going to let someone come in just because they have $50,000.”