Ted Simons: Is there a solution to the illegal immigration problem in Arizona? Many lean in favor of enforcement as the only answer, but others are shifting to what they see is a more comprehensive approach. One of those looking at the broader picture is Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute. He's writing a book with former Florida governor Jeb bush on how best to fix the nation's broken immigration system. It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Clint Bolick: It is great to be here with you Ted.
Ted Simons: Why team with Jeb bush, why focus on immigration?
Clint Bolick: Jeb is one of the true statesmen in America today. He and I have worked extensively on education reform together, and he's a real voice of common sense within the Republican Party, which is really I think largely lost its way on immigration. I think the timing is exactly right for this. We face a real immigration problem in that we are losing some of the most talented people in our country to other countries. Companies are leaving because they can't hire the best and the brightest from around the world as they traditionally have. And we've got a social welfare system that can't -- we can't afford unless we have young newcomers come to our country.
Ted Simons: It sounds like an economic approach to immigration.
Clint Bolick: It's economic and moral. This is a nation of immigrants. I think we owe to future immigrants the same opportunities that past immigrants have had, and that is to come into the country legally.
Ted Simons: What are some of your solutions, some of you're working with Governor Bush, what are the things you're looking at, the ideas you're proposing?
Clint Bolick: It's still in process, because we're writing the book as we talk. But the two main principles are that we need a really well-functioning, rational immigration system, in part so we don't have such illegal immigration. And that it really has to be bound by the rule of law. People need to know the rules of the game, the rules have got to be calculated to let people in who are honest and hard working. But those rules really need to be enforced.
Ted Simons: Some would say the rules are there. It's already laid out, all you got to do is follow the law.
Clint Bolick: This is a law that has developed over a century, and the holes have been plugged so many times, and bandaged over, it's a total mess. This is one of the most complex systems of laws that we have on the books. Our approach is to start from scratch and to put together an immigration strategy that reflects the reality that we're in today.
Ted Simons: Included in the strategy it sounds like for permanent status, what, you would need to pay a fine, have a clean record? Those are the prerequisites?
Clint Bolick: Yeah. We haven't gotten into the details, but yes. People who came into the country illegally should not be rewarded, but by the same token, it would be crazy for us to have a mass deportation of people, many of whom have become pillars of the community, and raised families here. So we think that the right approach is not to have a path to citizenship necessarily, but to have a path for permanent legal residency.
Ted Simons: And if people were interested in citizenship, you have them, from what I've read, from what you've said so far, they would have to apply from their home country, go to their home country and apply?
Clint Bolick: That's what we're looking at. That's an idea that County Attorney Bill Montgomery has suggested, and we are taking a look at that as one of the possible proposals. But on the one hand we do not -- we don't think that you can have an amnesty and ever expect people to follow the law again. On the other hand, deporting 10 million, 12 million people is really not a very viable solution.
Ted Simons: Speaking of viability, I wonder how realistic it would be to say to these folks, OK, citizenship is there, but you have to go back to a country you may never have -- as an adult you may not have been there.
Clint Bolick: Well, the fact is that when people commit crimes in our country, they forgo the privilege of voting and that sort of thing. When people come into our country illegally they have to know if they come in illegally, that there are going to be consequences.
Ted Simons: The green cards based on job skills, not family ties?
Clint Bolick: Certainly immediate family reunification; moms, dads, sisters, siblings and kids, that's going to remain a cornerstone of our immigration system. But right now the vast majority of people who are getting green cards are more distant relatives, and they're pushing out the people who would come here because of their skills or their labor. We have right now only 65,000 Visas for highly skilled workers every year. Canada has 1/10th of our population and gives out more Visas. They're cleaning our clock. We can't afford that anymore. We need to increase dramatically the number of people who can come in and fill the brain drain that we're having right now.
Ted Simons: Some of the criticisms, let’s get to them. I can see already, folks will say just arrest and deport anyone who is undocumented. Fine, arrest, any employer who hires an undocumented person. It's just that simple.
Clint Bolick: Certainly employer sanctions have to be an important part of the enforcement system. But an enforcement-only approach is doomed to fail. The people who are coming across the border, if they don't see a legal way to do it, they will do it illegally. Our ancestors faced far greater barriers and burdens than do immigration -- than do illegal immigrants today. If we won't let them in the front door, they're going to come in the back door.
Ted Simons: The Goldwater Institute is known for going to court on a variety of issues. Where has the Goldwater Institute been, you in particular, on these immigration issues in the past?
Ted Simons: Well, first of all, this is not a Goldwater Institute project. I am working on this on my own time, and through the Hoover institution with which I have an academic affiliation. Goldwater has primarily viewed this as a federal issue. It's one that frankly divides supporters of the Goldwater Institute. So I'm grateful that Goldwater is allowing me to pursue an issue of great personal passion.
Ted Simons: And you mentioned it divides a lot of folks, especially in the Republican party. There are critics who will say this is a way for the Republicans to look more moderate as the election approaches. How would you respond?
Clint Bolick: Well, the book is not going to be out before the election. Jeb Bush has been on record on this issue for a long time, and he has urged Mitt Romney to take a more moderate inclusive approach. But this is not about the Republican Party. I'm not a Republican, I'm someone who believes in America's future, and immigration has got to as it always has in our past, be a vital part of our future.
Ted Simons: When can we expect to see this book?
Clint Bolick: No later than May of next year.
Ted Simons: All right. It's good to see you.
Clint Bolick: Great to see you, thanks.