Monday, April 10, 2006

Guest Worker Programs Don't Work

Ruben Navarrete:

There are practical reasons why guest-worker programs don't work:

• Workers don't leave. While the workers are supposed to be temporary, they stick around. They get married, have kids and put down roots. As former U.S. senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming used to say, there is nothing more permanent than a temporary worker.

• Backlash never abates. Because these temporary workers never leave, a guest-worker program doesn't really put an end to the thing that gets Americans all worked up in the first place — the changing culture and complexion of towns and neighborhoods.

• Exploitation happens. Guest workers are ripe for abuse because if employers were to provide things such as housing, prevailing wages, health care and worker's compensation insurance, that would undermine the whole idea behind the program: cheap labor. Once labor isn't so cheap anymore, expect employers to lose interest.

• Illegal immigration continues. Most guest-worker plans deal in the hundreds of thousands. As long as millions of immigrants want to come to the USA and can fill millions of jobs, such a limited approach would never end illegal entry.

Congress should forget about importing new guest workers, or granting a wholesale amnesty to all 12 million illegal workers already here, and focus on reforms that stand a chance of working.

Here's a four-point plan to add to the mix:

1) Stiffen penalties against employers, including jail time, and enforce them for a change.

2) Beef up the ranks of the border patrol by 25%.

3) Increase the allotment of green cards and work visas to allow people to come in legally.

4) Grant legal status to some but not all illegal immigrants, the preference going to those who have been here the longest and who have immediate family members who are U.S. citizens.

And, lastly, let's accept the idea that, in this debate, there are no easy solutions or free lunches.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better than Navarette's usual drivel.

He fogot to include:

5. build the fence!

4/10/2006 8:45 AM  

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