As someone who saw the Statue of Liberty from the deck of an ocean liner full of Displaced Persons aboard the RMS Franconia in March 1955, I think I may have some insight into this present situation.

Many of the passengers on that ship had been waiting since the end of WWII, others were the second string relations of those who had come before.

Everybody had a sponsor: a family, a church, or a civic group. These sponsors were vetted and understood their obligations. If the person you sponsored somehow failed, their sponsor was responsible for them and obliged to repay the government for any costs created by their problems.

Why not establish 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week, reception centers in every major city (two or three in large urban areas) in every state? These could be in underutilized existing Government properties, and manned by retired military or civil servants who have been vetted and because they are government retired they would have their existing health care and retirement coverage. (Additional government service would increase their pensions.)

They would interview and process the applicants and collect and record the fees. (It seems that according to reports, most of the present undocumented spend five to ten thousand dollars to make the journey to the US.)

A $1500 dollar registration and processing fee would be required and would not be much more than many undocumented already spend just trying to avoid deportation.

With an estimated 5 to 15 million undocumented persons, this creates a “wall” that collects the monies required to maintain it. After a couple of years, to clear the backlogs, the system could be reduced and consolidated where practical (the former retired employees return to retirement with proportionally increased pensions).

Anyone could come in and register (documented or undocumented) but they would have to have established a relationship with their potential sponsor or sponsors. Corporations could sponsor workers, as could unions and small businesses. Sponsors would have to post a surety bond and would lose these monies if they or their guest worker violated the rules of the agreement.

Becoming a registered guest worker would not lead to citizenship, and would require renewal every couple of years when you would return to the place you were inducted and your documentation would be cross-checked. (Your previous year’s tax return and bio-metrics, retina, and DNA samples). You could change sponsors at this time or relocate to a reception center closer to where you live and work.

If you wished to become a US citizen or a legal alien, after five years, then you would have to return to your homeland, begin the paperwork, and go through the existing process. During this time, you could return and work in the US, but if your application is rejected, you would have to wait to reapply. Conviction of a felony, and or a recorded history of failure to comply with the requirements of your stay, could mean ineligibility to remain in the US.

This process would have to be tied in with a very thorough workplace scrutiny of all employees and very stiff fines for any employers found in violation ($10,000 per undocumented worker?)

Children born here would be citizens and could in their maturity become the sponsors of their parents, as could any US Citizen who marries a guest worker. If the parent has to return to their home country they could and might take their US Citizen children with them and upon the child's maturity the now grown child could return to US and if this child or children wished become sponsors of their parents.

The technology to authenticate applicants exists and is continually being upgraded, and while it would be costly, as would the initiation of this infrastructure, with potentially 15 million users, all paying for the privilege of applying, it would turn out more cost-effective than a physical barrier and provide the US with the needed manpower and some control over the future for all who choose to live here.

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