26 April 2010


Congress is being pressured to pass an immigration bill that would provide a “path to citizenship” for some eleven million illegal residents in this country. Given the blatant violation of our laws it is breathtaking to watch advocates press demands. On the other hand there is the reality that these people exist here and the question is what our policy ought to be. There is an alternative to legalization that ought to be considered.

In ancient Greece people residing in city states who were not citizens were considered metoikoi, or resident aliens. This status afforded them the opportunity to live in communities other than those of their origins. What we should do is develop a similar category for resident aliens that legalizes their presence here without granting full citizenship. This is a lot simpler than requiring them to jump through hoops to attain citizenship status. They would simply apply for it, and if they lack a criminal record, be granted resident status.

It is unfair to grant citizenship to those who have jumped the line, but there is no reason why we cannot provide another form of legal status. The law still needs to reformed to provide preference to higher-skilled applicants, real border enforcement and to allow for “guest workers,” who are needed particularly in agriculture. Apart from this resident alien status would seem to be the best solution for the rest.


  1. Isn't that what a green card is?

  2. Similar, but a green card is time-limited, and is granted upon legal entry. The status I am proposing is primarily for people who are here illegally.