NEW PATHWAYS TO AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP
Immigration reform should not include amnesty for
all foreign nationals
who entered the United States of America without permission.
But it should include new
pathways to U.S.
for most citizens of
other countries who are already living in the USA.
What new processes of screening and evaluation
should be used
for selecting new Americans from among the foreign nationals
already settled in the United States without permission?
In order not to encourage additional unauthorized
the in-country pathways to U.S. citizenship might be more demanding
than following the established means of emigrating to the USA.
1. HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO BECOME A U.S. CITIZEN?
NEW, ALTERNATIVES PATHWAYS TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP
SHOULD BE MORE DIFFICULT,
REGISTERED FOREIGN NATIONALS SHOULD BE FOLLOWED WITH SPECIAL CARE.
FOREIGN NATIONALS SHOULD PAY TAXES DURING THEIR YEARS OF PROBATION.
5. SHOULD FOREIGN NATIONALS PAY A FEE WHEN REGISTERING WITH THE
SHOULD SOME FOREIGN
NATIONALS BE INCARCERATED?
NEW PATHWAYS TO AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP SUGGESTED BY FOREIGN NATIONALS.
NEW PATHWAYS TO AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP
James Leonard Park
1. HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE
TO BECOME A U.S. CITIZEN?
When we enact immigration reform,
we should be careful not to create pathways to citizenship
that are easier than
the pathways already in use.
The established pathways to citizenship in the
United States of America
begin in the home country
of would-be immigrants.
Citizens of other countries—while
still living and working in their
decide that they would like to move to America and probably become U.S.
So they begin the process by making all the
at the U.S. embassies or consulates in their home countries.
For every person who ultimately becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen,
there are hundreds of
others who had the same wish
but who were not
accepted for immigration.
Normal immigration requires several years of waiting in
one's home country.
The exact length of time depends on the quota for each country
and the particular characteristics of
the person (or family) applying.
2. NEW, ALTERNATIVES
PATHWAYS TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP
SHOULD BE MORE DIFFICULT,
If the USA creates easy new pathways to
which began with foreign
nationals already living in the United States,
then millions of people who would like to become Americans
would ignore the standard pathway
and move themselves and their families immediately into the USA.
For example, the length of time required to obtain
should always be shorter if
the immigrant follows the original rules.
Those who entered the USA without
must be required to fulfill even
than those who apply from their homelands.
Specifically, if it takes 10
years to complete the process from home,
then it might take 11 years
for those who broke the law
and entered the USA without permission.
The time-line for naturalization
should be measured from the date on which an official application was
With normal immigration, this date will be on the first visa
application to enter the USA.
For naturalization after
the date for measuring the length of time for naturalization
might be the length of time between
the first official
and the date of naturalization.
In other words, the length of time residing in the USA without
permission should not count.
The naturalization clock only begins to measure the time
when the applicant puts his or her signature on the
and has his or her official portrait taken.
The basic reason for this longer probationary period
is to prevent the new pathway to citizenship being called "amnesty".
The violation of immigration laws is taken into account
by assigning a longer and
more difficult pathway
for immigrants who broke the various laws related to immigration.
Put another way, coming into the USA without
does not put the immigrant
ahead of all the others who followed the
and applied to emigrate while they were still living in their
As unauthorized immigration is curtailed by
there will opportunity to increase
In recent years about one million immigrants
have been added to the U.S.
population each year.
Half of these followed the rules and came with immigrant visas
obtained while they were still living in their home countries.
The other half entered the USA without authorization.
In the past, it was immigration policy
to send all
unauthorized immigrants back to their countries of origin,
where they could line up with the others at the U.S. embassy
and apply to come into the USA with official authorization.
But such a policy was too disruptive for the immigrant and the family.
And people sought ways to get around this requirement
of returning to their countries of origin.
And such requirements for returning to one's homeland
have been somewhat eased by recent administrative actions (2013).
It is now possible to apply for a waiver
of this requirement to return to one's original homeland.
New pathways to citizenship will probably allow
applicants to remain in the
while they prove that they will become good American citizens.
And the longer probationary period required for
will give all branches of the U.S. government (and state and local
more time to separate those foreign nationals who will earn American
from those citizens of other countries who will be returned to their
3. REGISTERED FOREIGN
NATIONALS SHOULD BE FOLLOWED WITH SPECIAL CARE.
Foreign nationals who entered the USA without
will be registered with their whole families.
Such family connections might be quite complex and extended.
And no attempt will be made to force families into preconceived patterns
that only one marriage-partner will be recognized.
The Department of Homeland Security will create a
(or expand an existing agency)
for the purpose of following each registered family of foreign
Because of birthright
some younger members of the family might already be U.S. citizens.
This very careful supervision of registered foreign
will include home-visits
to make certain that all persons are registered
and that their pictures and other identifying details
are correctly recorded by the Department of Homeland Security.
Who owns the place of residence?
Are all vehicles properly registered?
Do all drivers have valid licenses to drive?
The social workers from the Department of Homeland
will also visit the places where all employed persons work.
Are these legitimate businesses?
Are all required taxes being collected and paid?
Are any other employees not yet registered with the Department of
If the National
Identity Bureau has been created,
then on-line access will be able to confirm instantly
that each and every person encountered
during such visits to homes and work-places
is a U.S. citizen or a registered foreign national.
Some of these work-place visits will result in
registering other foreign nationals
who were not yet in the national database.
These newly-discovered citizens of other countries
will have their pictures taken and register themselves and their
This should be registration
Local law-enforcement will also cooperate with the
Department of Homeland Security.
All registered foreign nationals have at least temporary permission
to live and work in the United States.
If and when foreign nationals are ever arrested for violation ordinary
their identities will be completely confirmed.
And all valid arrests, trials, convictions, & terms-in-prison
will become permanent parts of their Identity Files in the National
If the applicants continue to violate criminal laws
while living in the USA,
this will count against
their efforts to become U.S. citizens.
The following might be the standard for denial:
All applicants who must go
to jail or prison for violating criminal laws
should also be removed from the programs that might have led to U.S.
(But even a record of minor violations of laws and ordinances
will count against naturalization
if the pattern of criminal behavior has persisted for a period of
After they have served their terms in prison,
they (and all dependent parts of their families)
should be returned to the country where the convicted parent holds
"Comprehensive Repatriation of Citizens of other Countries and their
4. FOREIGN NATIONALS
SHOULD PAY TAXES DURING THEIR YEARS OF PROBATION.
As soon as foreign nationals already settled in the
apply for a new pathway to American citizenship
they are also registered with the Internal Revenue Service,
which will expect them to file income-tax returns from then on.
have already been paying taxes, so much the better.
This will count in their favor when evaluating their applications for
Of course, foreign
nationals who remain in their home countries
will be expected to pay all taxes due in their homelands.
Becoming straight with the IRS might also include
paying past taxes.
If the family of foreign nationals has been working underground,
probably no taxes were paid for those years of earning an income and
The Internal Revenue Service already has established protocols
for calculating and paying taxes for past years.
Foreign nationals 'coming clean' with the IRS will follow the same
Thus, the taxes withheld by the employer will
both enough to pay the income taxes and Social Security taxes for the current
but also any additional amounts required to pay taxes for prior years.
Not paying taxes while living and working in the
will be a serious mark against
who wishes to become an American citizen.
And the Department of Homeland Security should check each year
to make sure that each registered foreign national is paying all taxes
This need not be an automatic audit
of each tax-return for a foreign
But it will make certain that a reasonable amount of tax is being paid
And if a suspiciously-small
amount of income is reported,
then there will be an audit by the Internal Revenue Service
and perhaps further investigation by the Department of Homeland
5. SHOULD FOREIGN
NATIONALS PAY A FEE WHEN REGISTERING WITH THE UNITED
When citizens of other countries apply to emigrate
they must pay significant fees
to have their applications processed.
Foreign nationals applying
from inside the USA should pay at least the
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has already
set such a pattern.
is now registering young adults
who were brought into the USA without permission when they were still
When they come out of the shadows,
they pay $465 to register themselves with the U.S. government
and to receive temporary permission to live and work in the USA.
As immigration reform expands to include more
similar procedures for registration can be expected.
It could be part of the registration of the foreign
for them to reveal all their sources of income.
enterprises should be brought above ground
and start paying all taxes that are due.
Perhaps just getting right with the IRS as described
above (4) would be sufficient.
The new laws created by immigration reform in the USA
will define exactly what money must be paid by foreign nationals.
6. SHOULD SOME
NATIONALS BE INCARCERATED?
When foreign nationals have been caught committing
crimes in the USA,
they should be sent to jail while their cases are investigated
The regular criminal-justice systems will take charge of this part of
But while they are still in jail,
they should be registered with the Department of Homeland Security.
This registration should establish whatever ties
each foreign national has with some local community in the USA.
If they have so few social connections with any
it might be necessary to keep them confined
after their ordinary terms in prison have been completed.
This will prevent them from moving to a new location
in order to fade into the U.S. population once again.
When it becomes clear that they will not attempt to disappear
they have well-known ties within their local communities—
then they can be released after complete registration of their whole
Another reason for considering incarceration
check for possible addiction
to drug or
If the foreign national has been taken into custody for drunk driving,
this will be an occasion to register him or her
with the Department of Homeland Security
if he or she is not already registered.
Medical examination will be routinely conducted,
since some foreign nationals have not had any connection with health
care in the USA.
without Deportation will also integrate them into
the most appropriate health-care systems where they live.
While incarcerated, it might become evident
that this foreign national has a drug or alcohol problem.
Deprived of the addictive substance, this person might begin to go thru
If that happens, appropriate medical care should be provided.
And the facts of the addiction should be investigated and recorded.
Addiction will not recommend this person
as a good
But this might be an occasion to begin a careful program of recovering
from the addiction.
And if the addiction can be overcome,
without Deportation can be continued.
7. NEW PATHWAYS TO
AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP SUGGESTED BY FOREIGN NATIONALS.
In the past, requirements for citizenship have been
handed down by the U.S. government.
But a new approach might ask the population of people who will be
to make their own new suggestions for pathways to American citizenship.
Of course, the present citizens of the USA
will ultimately decide thru their elected representatives
just what new criteria might be applied to foreign nationals
already settled in the United States without permission.
And blanket amnesty without effective new controls
is not a workable solution.
Whenever specific suggestions are proposed
that are stricter than the
of emigrating from other countries,
they can be linked from here.
How should the in-country
applicants be followed?
What criteria should they fulfill to become American citizens?
October 12, 2011; Revised 10-13-2011; 10-15-2011; 11-16-2011;
4-15-2012; 10-12-2012; 1-16-2013; 1-31-2013
James Park is an existential philosopher
and naturalized citizen of the United States.
Several more essays on immigration are linked below.
Be Above Average
New Criteria for Selecting New Americans .
Selecting New Americans .
Deportation of Persons Likely to Qualify for
a Pathway to Citizenship under Immigration Reform
Foreign Nationals in the USA:
How Many Will Stay?
Carrots and Sticks .
New Pathways to Citizenship .
Millions of Foreign Nationals out of the Shadows .
discussion of these essays (and others)
is now taking place in a Facebook
REFORM: CHANGING U.S. LAWS.