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Killing two birds with one stone

The US currently has a number of problems on our plate, and our attempts to handle them all sometimes reminds me of Steve Martin's infamous "kitten juggling." But it occurred to me that we just might be able to use one problem to solve another.

The cleanup in New Orleans is going to take a long, long time. It's going to be filthy, backbreaking work, quite likely extending into years.

Meanwhile, we still have our crisis with illegal aliens. While we struggle to care for the potentially hundreds of thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina, we still have this countless number of other "refugees" from other countries who flout our laws and invade us by the thousands each day. Many of them are forming a permanent "underclass" that ends up driving down wages and costing the nation millions.

So, here's my radical idea: a "work program" that offers a simple deal: work for citizenship.

Illegal aliens who would like to be given citizenship will have to sign up for one year of working on cleaning up New Orleans. For that one year, they will work five days a week, 8 hours a day, in shifts 24-7, helping to clean up and restore the city. And at the end of the year, they will be granted US citizenship.

Here is some of the fine print I've come up with:

1) While working, they will be paid minimum wage. But an equal amount will be deposited into an escrow account, given to them when they are awarded their citizenship.

2) They will be provided with food, shelter, health care, and other benefits -- nearly all expenses will be covered while they are working.

3) Anyone who signs up, then leaves, will be deported immediately.

4) On one of their two days off, they will attend English lessons (if necessary) and citizenship classes. Once they pass those, they may be offered other classes such as GED or college-credit classes.

Defenders of illegal aliens often say that "they're only doing the jobs Americans don't want to do," and say that they are actually being exploited by their employers. Well, here's one big job that very few Americans would want, and while it can be argued that they're being exploited, we're offering them a huge payoff in the end.

I think it's worth kicking around.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Killing two birds with one stone:

» Forward Biased linked with Nah, makes too much sense

» basil's blog linked with Supper: 9/7/2005

» Myopic Zeal linked with Nagin Doesn’t Want Mexican Help

Comments (18)

Jay: There will be plenty o... (Below threshold)

Jay: There will be plenty of Americans lining up for jobs cleaning up New Orleans, especially if you're paying minimum wage plus room, board, health care and whatever you mean by 'other benefits' (vacations in Las Vegas?).

I'd add one more item to th... (Below threshold)

I'd add one more item to the fine print: criminal backgroud check. Other than that, it's way too sensible and practical to be adopted. Too bad.

Let me get this stra... (Below threshold)

Let me get this straight, you're proposing that people should be asked to work when receiving benefits? You are an iconoclast my friend! ;-)


I applaud your out of the b... (Below threshold)

I applaud your out of the box thinking. But I have to agree with steve sturm above, in that there are plenty of people with little or no marketable skills already in that city who could be put to work.

But back to the issue of illegal aliens, I think it would be perfectly acceptable to have those we catch be put to work in some kind of a minimum security work farm for 3-6 months before being sent home. In fact, requiring some kind of work/retribution is about the only fair thing to do so as to have them pay back some of the costs of enforcing the law, straining the healthcare system, etc. However, I don't think that it does any good to reward people with citizenship for breaking our laws and then just doing the jobs they would have done anyway.

(Just to be clear though, I still believe employers deserve the brunt of the blame for illegal immigration.)

We should probably make 4 m... (Below threshold)

We should probably make 4 months of service in New Orleans mandatory for continued government assistence for able bodied citizens on welfare and the like.

Wy not let all those people... (Below threshold)

Wy not let all those people from New Orleans who were living off the government do the work. It would kind of be like they are paying back some of the tax money given to them over the years. If they haven't been on the governement dole, they can still work and get paid. I'm sure they will need a job.

'So, here's my radical idea... (Below threshold)

'So, here's my radical idea: a "work program" that offers a simple deal: work for citizenship.'

If I were an illegal in CA, FL, NY, NJ, MA, PA, AZ why would I subject myself to that when I could continue to work, or not work, where I lived with no fear of reprecussions?

I think Moley has the right... (Below threshold)

I think Moley has the right idea. Most of these people were unemployed anyway. This is a good job for them.

Terrible idea. We disperse... (Below threshold)

Terrible idea. We disperse the entire N.O. community all over the U.S., instead of letting them rebuild their own city. Instead, we bring in illegals to do the work? This is nuts. You will encourage more illegal immigration, making the problem worse than it is already, and you create a population of people (New Orleans natives) which are fully dependent on the government aid until their city is rebuilt.

No, the answer is to house most (if not all) of the displaced citizens in military bases no more than 100 miles from NO. You institute a WPA-type work program which pays them to re-build their own city. This keeps the community intact, creates jobs for those who have lost them, and solves the housing crisis these folks currently face...

Hmmm.If you reward... (Below threshold)


If you reward illegal immigration, you'll get more illegal immigration.

The plan sounds good, but T... (Below threshold)

The plan sounds good, but TOMO and ed are right when they say it will only encourage more illegal immigration. You thought it out well but didn't consider that little detail.

Perhaps you could modify it a bit and have LEGAL immigrants work there. That would encourange following the immigration laws.

Yet another minor nit:... (Below threshold)

Yet another minor nit:

"3) Anyone who signs up, then leaves, will be deported immediately."

First off, we don't have the manpower to find all the people who sign up and leave. If we did, we wouldn't have a border problem in the first place.

Second off, we don't have a political consensus to kick the illegal aliens out of the country. If we did, every police force in every town in the US would be rounding up illegals and sending them home.

Jay Tea, you're a GOD!!!!!!... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea, you're a GOD!!!!!!!!!! :-)

To further beat the horse I... (Below threshold)

To further beat the horse I was riding, let's see what kind of pay each worker is going to get under Jay's proposal.

The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, or $10,712 a year (based on a 40 hour week for 52 weeks). Add to that the value of the housing, let's say $600 per month, $7,200 per year. Add to that the food allowance, $20 a day for 365 days, a total of $7300 for the year. Add medical care (individual coverage) of about $500 per month, or $6000 per year. And since Jay graciously said "nearly all expenses would be covered" let's add $500 for a clothing allowance, $1000 for lottery tickets, and $1500 for going bowling and to a movie once a week... leaving us a grand total of (if I have my math right) $34,212 for a year.

Maybe cleaning up NO won't be a lot of fun, but I guarantee that there will be no shortage of Americans signing up for a deal like that.

Sorry, Jay Tea. Thoughtful,... (Below threshold)

Sorry, Jay Tea. Thoughtful, but bad idea. Let the citizens of New Orleans and points elsewhere affected by storm rebuild their own cities. If there will be compensation for that action, then offer it to those legal citizens who deserve primary consideration. This may actually become an opportunity for the most indigent, or even the minimally motivated, to acquire gainful employment and a trade... not to mention an escape from the perpetual, undeserved government dole. Next, let other legal Americans fill in vacant slots. Your suggestion just expands the taxpayers' obligation and furthers the illegal immigration dilemma addressed by previous posters.

Sorry Jay, nice thoughts bu... (Below threshold)

Sorry Jay, nice thoughts but, I believe, impracticable or unenforceable. Why? Really lengthy answer to insert here. Short version. Read Mexifornia an incredible analysis of immigrant non-integration, by choice, in California by Prof Victor Davis Hansen. I reccomend it to everyone.

Call me crazy, but seeing a... (Below threshold)

Call me crazy, but seeing as the illegals of NO are now:

a) out of work and homeless
b)they were illegally here, and illegally working
c) are now going to be dependent upon and taking government assistance and resources that is actually intended for those here legally,

would not the appropriate course of action be for Mexico to call for their citizens to come home, or the US to gently escort them home, and Mexico provide assistance to them there?

And asking their home countries to take back and suport their nationals, rather than their consular officials running around setting up mobile offices to give assistance to their nationals here? The Mexican govt is trucking in supplies and setting up offices to help their citizens, some who are illegal, in the US, after demanding that the US refrain from "prosecuting and persecuting" their illegal citizens in the US (and that a "sanctuary zone" be set up where illegals can come forward to receive US government benefits without fear of deportation.)

maybe if they agree to be s... (Below threshold)

maybe if they agree to be shackled to a pressure treated 8" X 8" X 8' post...no wait...too much like slavery...






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