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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Articles

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A Plan

The one major thing that seems to be lacking in the immigration debate is a plan. There are strong opinions on both sides and a lot of rhetoric but there isnít really any solid plan being promoted to address the illegal immigration issue in a way that is both fair and logical.

So, that being said here is my idea:

The first step is to acknowledge that we cannot deport several million people and that we should accept that it makes more sense to have them here legally than illegally. They are going to be here and it makes sense that we find a way to coexist while not simply giving them a pass for breaking the law.

To that end I would say that we should not offer amnesty so much as a path to legitimacy for the people who did break the law to get here but are contributing to the economy and diversity of America. We need to set strict guidelines for earning first legal resident alien status and then possibly citizenship. I would suggest those guidelines be these:

For legal residency status:

1: Basic proficiency in English tested at 5th grade level being required. (Applicants would have 12 months from the time of application for residency to pass language skills test.)

2: Proof of presence in United States prior to January 1st 2003. (Mail, bills, anything that can legitimately place them here that is date specific.)

3: Clean criminal record in U.S. and country of origin.

4: Any owed back taxes to be paid on an installment plan. (With a $5,000 fine being incorporated into those payments to defray administrative costs for the processing of the back taxes. If the person paid taxes under a false social security number, only the fine would apply and no charges for tax fraud or fraudulent use of a social security number would be filed.)

5: Gainful employment being established during time in U.S. (Employers would be given amnesty to vouch for the employment of the undocumented workers up to January 1st 2008.)

For citizenship after five years of legal residency status:

1: Evidence of community or military service in an amount of no less than 2000 hours, which is the equivalent of one year of full time employment, during their time as a legal resident.

2: English proficiency at a 12th grade level.

3: Clean criminal record with the exception of minor moving violations during their time as a legal resident alien.

4: Ability to pass a GED examination in English.

5: No missed payments on back-tax installment plan or fine for use of false documents paid in full.

6: Continued gainful employment with no utilization of government general assistance programs other than unemployment insurance if laid off from a job.

7: Signed pledge to work with immigration department to facilitate transition of other immigrants in their community from undocumented to legal status and to expose employers and others who are exploiting the people who are undocumented.

Once this program is in place, the Border Patrol should be given more effective methods to limit the flow of undocumented people across the border such as high tech devices to detect movement under the earth to find tunnels under the border and satellite surveillance of the entire border.

A new immigration system would need to be established that would match employers with employees and contain guarantees that American citizens got first priority and that only when there were no qualified Americans to fill the positions would they be offered to guest workers. Also the immigration laws should be amended to provide for citizenship by birth only if one parent was a legal citizen of the United States at the time of the childís birth. Otherwise, the child should be a citizen of the country of origin of their parents.

In addition to these changes, the marriage rules should be changed to require five years of resident alien status for newly married petitioners for citizenship based on marriage to an American to eliminate marriages of convenience for citizenship. This would help stem the tide of illegal and barely legal immigrants to the U.S. so that we can welcome those who want to contribute to our nation with open arms and few, if any, reservations.

Exploitation of illegal immigrants must also be addressed to solve the problem. Employers who exploit workers should be given mandatory minimum 15 year prison sentences for hiring undocumented workers if caught doing so knowingly once the legal path to residency is established. Employers found running sweat shops should be given mandatory minimum 25 year prison sentences and charged with human rights violations in addition to violating immigration laws. The sentences should be harsh enough that employers will fear the consequences of being caught. No fine substitution should be allowed for employers who violate these laws and judicial discretion should be limited to cases where employer knowledge of undocumented status can be disputed with evidence of forged documents used to obtain employment.

This program would likely meet with resistance on all sides but it is fair and does address the issue without acquiescing to either side completely. The solution to the illegal immigration problem will only come through compromise and logic. Emotional responses on either side of the debate will not accomplish real reform. That will take hard work and harder choices.
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article.

Civility in Debate

In 2007 it seems that civility is becoming a lost art form. As I watch the news and see the once proudly objective newsmakers becoming the pundits and some even aggressively attacking their guests verbally because they don't agree with them, I become saddened.

I grew up in a small town outside of Reno Nevada called Sparks. It's not so small now but when I was growing up, it was the kind of town where everyone knew everyone and if you got in trouble in one part of town, your parents knew about it before you got home because somebody had alreayd called them to let them know what you had been up to. One of the things that has always stayed with me from that small town was the idea that you should be polite to one another. Perhaps it was because you were likely to see the person again and need to interact with them but I like to think it went deeper than that. People always tried to offer a smile and if they disagreed with you, they told you in a polite way.

It seems today that ideal has been replaced with a win-at-all-costs mentality that has Americans feeling like they must win every argument and that anyone that disagrees with them is the "enemy". How did we get from the first place to the present? Is it just my naivete that makes me believe that we are better off being more civil? It seems to me that we could accomplish more if we worked together than if we are constantly fighting one another.

Having grown up watching kitchen table debates between my family members and the people of our church that ended in handshakes and utterances like "You made some good points. I still think we need to go the other direction but you gave me some things to think about.", I know that disagreement with civility is possible. Our parents' generation were able to do it so why are we struggling with it? It seems like the role models were right in front of us every day. Must we all act like Bill O'Reilly and yell at people who disagree with us?

I for one am resolving to work harder to find civility and progress at the same time. I invite you to join me. We might not always agree and that's ok because if we talk about it rationally and civilly, we will likely find we are not as far apart overall as we might think.
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article.

Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to:

Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to


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