Immigration is an emotional issue. Too many see it as a battle between good and evil. Problem is, they don't agree on where the good or evil lie. For some people, immigrants (illegal or not) are among the disadvantaged, so they deserve our support. Targeting poor immigrants is evil and racist. For others, immigrants (illegal or not) compete for jobs and consume scarce public resources. Encouraging immigrants is evil. For still others, the issue is only the illegality. Anything that encourages illegal behavior is evil! This third view makes sense except when we ask why so much immigration is illegal. This brings us back to the second group's concerns.
As a student of strategy, my interests are different from all three of these groups.
First, strategically, people should focus their care and concern on individuals, not categories. Sun Tzu's first principle is that each person has a unique position. As a category, we cannot know anything about immigrants. Some come here as drug dealers and thieves.; others because they are escaping privation and oppression. Sympathy for categories of people is a fraud.
Economic strategy favors helping individuals coming to America looking for work. Economics is not a zero sum game. More productive people do not make a poorer nation. Bringing in productive people increases our wealth and the jobs in our country. Unskilled jobs are being more rapidly replaced by automation than immigration. Americans who can only compete with immigrant should blame our education system and their own initiative, not immigrants.
We have made an broad group of people who are (for the most part) productive into criminals. This encourages other crimes, such as faking of documents, which we cannot tolerate. We must discriminate, in the best sense of the word. We must systematically organize, and control the influx of productive people. We must filter out the criminals, bums, and terrorists. We cannot do this while being overwhelmed by people that fall into non of these categories.
Technology provides a strategic solution. We must channel all immigrants into a system of immigration that makes it easy to get into the country, but that makes it impossible to get lost once here and forces them into legal work. Work visas and social security cards should be designed like credit cards so that they can be tracked in by an automated system. That system must track both employment, residence, and use of social service.
Once the majority of illegal immigrants are channeled in a system, we reduce the flow of people crossing the borders unmonitored. There will still be drug dealers and those who want to come here for reasons other than work. Once the mass of immigrants have a legal route in, we can then make violation of the borders a serious crime with serious punishment. As Sun Tzu says, offer people and advantage and they will come. Threaten them with danger and they will stay away. Without the mass of immigrants consuming resources in a massive catch and release program, we can invest most in technology. Technology can monitor the borders to catch these dangerous types. Once caught, they can be move to prisons in Alaska for a few years to discourage their return. As long as we aren't being overwhelmed by the large numbers of people who are just looking for work, stricter control becomes possible.
Finally, we can give Mexican government and businesses an incentive to control immigration. I believe in free trade, but a tariff to pay for immigration control makes sense. Right now, the Mexican government see emigration as a solution to many of their problems. We must make it into a real and political cost for them.