Immigrants make this country great. They make every country great. That said, a nation should be able to determine who comes in and the terms under which they may or may not stay.
But what do we do with the undocumented immigrants who are already here?
Our solution is very simple.
Every undocumented immigrant who is currently employed should be paid $45 per hour. Minimum. If the employer wants to give their undocumented employees more, fine.
The logic behind this solution?
First, all workers deserve a basic wage that gives them the ability to pay the rent, cover child care, buy food and cover utilities.
Second, undocumented workers historically take positions with higher risk to their health and well-being. Undocumented workers are often employed in the first place because they take a lower wage, while paying taxes, yet not qualifying for government benefits.
So, if employers must pay their undocumented employees $45 an hour then the real conversations begin. If it suddenly becomes less financially prudent to hire undocumented workers, then maybe people on both sides of the political spectrum change their stated arguments about the pros and cons of the current system.
All people deserve to be treated equitably, as human beings, not cattle or commodities.
This brings us to the subject of refugees. What is the best solution to give thousands of people a permanent place to rebuild their lives?
The only logical and humane solution is to put refugees in abandoned or empty strip malls across the country equitably. Where there is a closed Walmart, Kmart, Circuit City, Sears, BestBuy, JCPenney, there is an opportunity to provide immediate housing for hundreds of refugees looking for a reprieve from religious or political assault. By splitting up the total number of people who need assistance, we share the fiscal/ethical/legal/logistic responsibility of caring for them until a permanent solution can be found.
The permanent solution of course, is returning every refugee to their homeland. That requires action on the part of government officials in countries where these exoduses are happening. Safe zones. Rebuilding damaged infrastructures. Offering guarantees that these hostile zones will be more tolerant and safe for returning refugees.
In the meantime, desolate buildings get a chance to do something noble. More importantly, if every town, county, city — in every state across the country — has the same chance to be used as a site to house refugees, we give office holders some real skin in the game, and help citizens see that human rights are a real issue that transcends political parties.