While I think that comprehensive immigration reform is the way to go, I have some serious problems with some of the details of the Senate's version of this bill.
First of all, dump the merit system. We already have a way for those immigrants to come to the US, the H1B visa. Adding a merit system to the new Z visa seems to me simply a way to subvert the prevailing wage requirement of the H1B. Why bring someone in on a H1B, when you can hire someone on a Z visa and pay them half their worth? No, add more H1Bs if these are the people we wish to attract. This portion of the bill would have terrible ramifications for the middle class in this country and should be stripped. These visas should be for lesser skilled immigrants who are currently doing the work Americans will not do.
Next, dump the "tag up" portion of the bill. Who the hell is going to do all of this work while these people are in their home country "tagging up" to return to the US? It strikes me as undo-able and will disrupt the country's growth while making the transition.
Instead, I would like to see current illegals to sign up for the Z visa, which in my mind should be issued in six month increments for a period of five to ten years. This would help us keep track of any immigrants that get off the track, and weed out those who do not meet these standards. After which, the immigrant would be able to apply for green card status, and from there get on the traditional path to citizenship. This would instill continuity during the transition period in the labor pool that most illegal immigrants fill.
Yes, I'm aware that most conservatives would cry amnesty at that, but to be honest, I think some of those conservatives would call anything short at them getting a free shot at departing immigrants with a baseball bat at the deportation station amnesty.
Also, I would like to see the fines lowered. I would say $1,000 for an individual, and an additional $3,000 for that individual to bring their immediate family into the country. At that point, everyone in the family would be able to work if these are over the age of sixteen. If we are going to bring in immigrants, their families should be allowed reunification, and if that family wants to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they should be allowed to try.
Oh, and while we are at it, if we are going to have comprehensive immigration reform, let's get rid of the dumbest immigration policy we have: Wet foot, Dry foot. Either set a quota on the number of Cubans that we will allow into the country as political refugees or don't allow in any.
Finally, we have to finally get serious about enforcement in both border security and on the employer side.
As a side note, Brian Bilbray (R-CA) had the funniest line about this debate on CNN's Late Edition over the weekend. After noting that both Tom Tancredo and Maxine Waters both supported the bill he was in favor of, he said, "That's not bipartisan, that's bipolar."