Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform:
With the stroke of Bush's or Kerry's pen, millions of illegal aliens can be instantly transformed into guest workers or green card holders, and the man holding the pen can take credit for having "delivered" something to Latinos, even if it is only the 11th item on their wish list. Ironically, in making item No. 11 come true, the politicians who are pandering to them will make their other wishes even more difficult, if not impossible, to attain. Because neither Congress nor the president possesses the authority to repeal the law of supply and demand, amnesty for millions of illegal aliens and their families, expanded guest worker programs and still higher levels of legal immigration would only exacerbate the very problems that most Latinos (and everybody else) worry about.
There are so many things wrong with this piece that I could go on for pages. Let me just make a few points: normalizing the legal status of millions of immigrants would improve the lot of those people who are now laboring and struggling without the basic protections of the law (minimum wage, health and safety regulations, anti-discrimination laws, etc.) Better wages would lead to a better standard of living for immigrants, which would lead to the ability to participate in an employer's health insurance plan and maybe even have enough money to send a child to Catholic school, for example. The items on the "Latino Wish List" are not mutually exclusive, but inextricably interconnected. Taking care of the immigration problem has the potential of resolving some of the other issues of greater concern to Hispanics, like education, health insurance and job security.
It is true that schools in Latino neighborhoods are failing our kids, and they will continue to fail if parents are working two and three jobs at below minimum wage, and they don't have the time to help their children with school or the money to opt out of the public school system. Beginning with a guest worker program and moving toward making citizens out of these immigrants will lead to a faster transition from the underclass to the middle class, which is where we want to see people that come to this country and work hard.
On the economy, a guest worker program would be the right initial response to the laws of supply and demand that Mr. Stein refers to. It is clear that there is great demand for laborers and that is why we see people risking their lives to come to America. The president's immigration proposal recognizes this and it seeks to deal with the disconnect between supply and demand that currently exists. The jobs clearly exist, and it's just a matter of deciding whether the people that are filling the demand will be treated like real workers or like indentured servants.