In an earlier provocation, I argued that most Americans should support higher levels of legal immigration, having benefited from the fact that their own ancestors were able to come here legally.

Unlike some advocates of higher levels of legal immigration and eventual amnesty for today's illegal immigrants, I also believe that illegal immigration is a problem, that border security should be enhanced, and that workplace enforcement should be stepped up. Illegally hired labor advantages companies willing to break the law, makes the exploitation of workers more likely, and contributes to identity theft.

Here is an idea for enhancing workplace enforcement, offered tentatively because while it strikes me as a good idea, I've neither thought it through exhaustively nor subjected it to critique. It would work as follows: illegal immigrants hired despite their undocumented status could turn in their employers, subjecting them to a fine, and in return for that service to the rule of law they'd receive a green card. It seems to me that this would end the hiring of illegal immigrants rather quickly while treating folks already here illegally with compassion and getting them "inside the system." Politically, this seems like a trade-off that would be permissible to at least some immigrant advocates and rule-of-law anti-illegal immigration folks.

There are some objections that occur to me, but this being the provocation of the day, I hope you'll raise them and others I haven't thought about in comments, or by e-mailing conor.friedersdorf@gmail.com -- I'll revisit this idea in a future post, laying out the best critiques, refining my proposal, or perhaps abandoning it if my critics are persuasive.