“Shall Issue” Entry Visas: A Fix for a Broken Immigration System

“Shall issue” entry visas for immigrants would create a more free labor market, reduce the national debt, deny organized crime syndicates the illicit profits from human smuggling, eliminate arbitrary and racist immigration quotas, ensure the government has a better record of who is in the United States, and move America back to the ideals inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

The key change in policy that makes this proposal so powerful is shifting the burden from a prospective immigrant having to prove a bureaucrat that they should be allowed to come to the United States, to have a bureaucrat have to prove that the particular immigrant should not be allowed to come to the United States.

In practice, this would work like the system of shall-issue concealed carry permits that have resulted in an increase in gun rights without a decrease in public safety.  An applicant would submit a form with basic identifying information, including a photo and biometrics, along with a $1,000 processing fee. Within 60 days of that application, the applicant shall receive an entry visa to come to the United States, unless the Federal government can show a specific reason why that applicant should not be allowed entry.

Such a visa could be renewed on an annual basis with the submission of a $500 renewal fee and would likewise be renewed within 60 days if there is no specific showing that the applicant should be denied renewal.

The average cost for an illegal immigrant to get smuggled across our border with Mexico is approximately $4,000. By having a clear application process that costs a fraction of a dangerous ride through the Sonoran desert, we can deny the organized crime syndicates their profit on human misery, in the same way, that legal American cannabis has taken the profit out of illegal Mexican cannabis.

Mexican Immigrants
Coahuila, Mexico, Jun 16 – A group of migrants of Central American origin waits on the railway line to get on a container train, known as ‘The Beast’, to go to the border of the United States and Mexico, between the states of Coahuila (Mexico) and Texas (USA).

With a simple and predictable front door for immigrants to come through, there would be much less incentive for someone to seek to enter the country illegally. As we saw with the way iTunes displaced Napster, when the law is simple and easy to comply with, more people comply with the law.

Our present system of country-based immigration quotas is not only racist in its application, it is subject to the fatal conceit of central planning, the idea that not only is there an ideal number of immigrants from each country around the world, but on top of it that a bureaucrat or group of bureaucrats could know that ideal number. Removing that artificial barrier would allow our labor market to find equilibrium in the same way that our markets for goods find equilibrium, reducing the barriers to transactions in the marketplace.

Nicholas Sarwark

Nicholas Sarwark

Nicholas Sarwark is Executive Director of the Libertarian Policy Institute. He has been Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee since 2014, and after re-election in 2018, is the first person to be elected to three consecutive terms in party history. As a deputy public defender in Colorado, he tried more than 30 cases before a jury and argued in front of the Colorado Supreme Court. After five years as full-time Vice President of an independent car dealership and loan company based in Phoenix, he stepped away from day-to-day operations of the family business in early 2019. In August 2019 he relocated to New Hampshire with his wife Valerie and their four children to fulfill a commitment as a Free State Project participant and be closer to legal, political and media opportunities on the East coast. His media appearances include Reason magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, Salon, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as on “Kennedy” and “Stossel” on Fox Business, “Stossel on Reason,” the “Glenn Beck Program,” MSNBC, NPR, and many more.