Mike Kueber's Blog

June 27, 2011

An open letter to Mayor Castro re: illegal immigration

Dear Mr. Mayor:

At this year’s annual meeting of the State Bar of Texas, I had the pleasure of attending a “Civil Conversation about Immigration Reform.”  Most of the panelists provided relevant information, but failed to explore possible solutions to the intractable problem of twelve million illegal immigrants.  By contrast, you failed to provide much relevant information, but suggested a new mindset that might help us resolve the problem.  I agree that a new mindset would be helpful, but there are problems with your suggestion and I think there is a better alternative.

Your suggestion was that a path to citizenship should not be associated with amnesty, but rather it should be considered as analogous to deferred adjudication.  Application of this analogy would enable government to assess some penalties and require certain conduct, and upon the satisfaction of those terms, individuals would become legally documented.

The problem with this analogy is that individuals typically aren’t allowed to pocket their gains under deferred adjudication.  Instead they are required to cough up any gains through restitution.  By allowing illegal immigrants to earn legal status, you are allowing them to “profit from their illegal acts.”  (I’m sure you have heard that sound bite coming from opponents to amnesty.)

My suggested alternative is to apply the legal concept of adverse possession (squatter’s rights) – i.e., title to real property can be obtained without compensation by holding the property in a manner that conflicts with the true owner’s rights for a specified period.  Based on this analogy, America can be found to have waived its right to deport an undocumented immigrant who has lived in America and set down roots for a specified period (e.g., five to ten years).  This analogy not only enables illegal immigrants to benefit from their acts, but also limits the benefit to those
immigrants who have been productive residents in America for a significant period of time.

As you probably know, providing a path to citizenship for long-term illegal residents was a cornerstone to George W. Bush’s proposal.  Thus, this is a position for bipartisan compromise if the timing is right and the presentation is done right.

Good luck.

Sincerely,

Mike Kueber

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