I was watching C-Span and a representative of La Raza was discussing the talks on the table about how to "align U.S. policy with economic reality." This involves giving the 10-12 million workers who are already here illegally a mechanism to come forward without being deported. It was proposed in the Senate yesterday and a long way from becoming law, but is at least a possibility.
Here's what would happen: those who come forward would be able to stay in the job or industry they're working in for another 6 years. After those 6 years, they will be able to pay a fine of $1000 and receive temporary legal residence. After 5 years, if they have proven to be a law-abiding and tax-paying individual, they will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
This seems like an excellent way to incorporate them more fully into society. This article tells 5 reasons why an amnesty plan is a good idea. Something like this needs to accompany greater enforcement of anti-illegal immigration laws.
One problem I see is that during this debate the illegal workers and those trying to come here to work have been essentially equated with terrorists. Therefore, the argument would lead, they pose just as great of a threat to our national security. While there are domestic crime issues like gangs and drugs that are probably directly linked to the influx of Mexicans and Central Americans, making the link to terrorism is illogical. It seems that this inflation of the threat will not subside, since immigration is a hot campaign topic. Some senators will continue to argue that illegal immigration of any kind threatens our national security, but I hope others will not give up on the logical point that an amnesty program would be a positive step in aligning policy with reality.
The article I linked says "The nation's security is far stronger if we know who's here to frame houses, change linens, bus tables and build microchips--and who shouldn't be here to profit from true criminal activity or worse."