There’s a really easy path to solving this problem, but nobody is willing to do it. First, secure the borders. Then, create a “legal immigrant” status that allows people to stay but does not grant them full citizenship. This would allow these folks to work legally, and therefore pay taxes. The following restrictions would apply:
1. Those who came here illegally and are granted the “legal immigrant” status will not have the right to vote. Ever.
2. Those who are granted “legal immigrant” status will not receive any direct government assistance, including welfare, food stamps, or medicaid. This includes benefits for their dependents, regardless of whether their dependents are citizens or not.
3. Those with “legal immigrant” status will pay their taxes in full but will not receive any Medicare or Social Security benefits until they have maintained their “legal immigrant” status for 30 years or more.
4. Any “legal immigrant” who is convicted of a serious felony will be deported and lose their “legal immigrant” status. Such individuals will not be allowed to apply as “legal immigrants” again.
5. The children of “legal immigrants,” to the extent they were brought here before they were 18, will be able to choose once they turn 18 whether they want to become “legal immigrants” themselves or apply for citizenship. Citizenship would be dependent on graduating college, military service, or solid job history.
If people want to live by those rules, they can apply for “legal immigrant” status. If they don’t, they are free to leave. After a registration period, we toughen work requirements and begin deporting people who didn’t become “legal immigrants.”