ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bush's Guest Worker Program

Here's why Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, and most of the base of the GOP are wrong on this issue... Here are the main objections to Bush's guest worker program:

  1. Illegal Immigrants don't get paid minimum wage and thus depress wages for working Americans
  2. Instead of a guest worker program, we should lock down the border to prevent terrorists from coming in
  3. Illegal immigrants have committed a crime and thus should not be funneled through a legitimate guest worker program
  4. We shouldn't be paying for healthcare and public services of illegals
  5. There are plenty of Americans that will do the work if the pay is right
Unfortunately, the GOP base isn't looking at the Guest Worker program objectively. Now, I know that even some of my co-conspirators will disagree with me on this, but here's my take on the matter:
  1. Wage Depression - The free flow of labor is a reality in this global economy. As long as the US economy is 500 times more productive than those of Central & Latin America, workers from those regions will claw their way North for a better life. The concern that the Guest Worker program will depress American workers' wages is unfounded since the reason that employers are able to pay below minimum wage is precisely because these workers are illegal and are therefore afraid to report this mistreatment to the authorities. Legitimizing their hard work through a guest worker program would allow them to push their employers to pay minimum wages.
  2. Terrorism - This is perhaps the biggest reason that I am a proponent of the Guest Worker plan. Currently, millions of Mexicans, Hondurans, and others from Latin America come pouring across our borders without any scrutiny. This is a nightmare from a Homeland Security standpoint. There are two options - Refuse to let anyone in unless they go through the herculean task of applying for an H1B visa OR make migrating into the US with proper background checks easy enough so that you can focus the Border Patrols' efforts on the few criminals and terrorists that are unwilling to go through the background checks. It's impossible to pick out the 100 or so terrorists in a swarm of a million illegal immigrants at the border. But if an orderly, guest worker program was implemented with workers traveling on safe and secure highways and through checkpoints, the Border Patrol could then immediately arrest, detain and/or deport these illegals, since it is likely that anyone skirting the easy process of the guest worker program is participating in criminal activity.
  3. Illegals are criminals - Yes, this is true. However, most illegal immigrants are hard working people who's primary crime is their passion for a better life. The Guest Worker program would make it easier to stop actual criminals (and terrorists) from entering our country
  4. Funding of Healthcare - Guest Workers would immediately become part of the tax base, since their labor is no longer "off the books."
  5. Americans will do the work - Yes, there are Americans that will take the jobs that illegals currently take, if the wages are well above minimum wage. However, as mentioned above, the current system ensures that below minimum wages are paid for this unskilled labor and the new guest worker program would eliminate this reality as these workers are all of a sudden visible. In addition, given our current unemployment rate (equal to that of the economy in the 90s, the argument that there are plenty of Americans that would do these jobs does not seem to be accurate

With our attempts to expand our Free Trade Zone to include all of the Americas, such isolationist and protectionist opposition to programs such as these only hinder our economy and alter the perception of America as the land of opportunity. In addition, in domestic politics it gives the Democrats an opportunity to adopt this sensible policy and court the favor of Hispanic voters.

Monterey John - Feel free to go ballistic over this post. ;-)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler