Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Corporate Immigration

President Bush made a speech on his new plan to improve our immigration policy, which has not been altered since 1986. He spoke of a new guest worker program to allow current illegal immigrants to be granted temporary worker status for three years, which would cover approximately 11 million aliens, and then forcing their return home. This new tougher stance is in direct contrast to the president’s proposal two years ago that spoke of granting amnesty to illegals, which Mr. Bush now opposes. It appears Republican lawmakers are looking for an even tougher approach towards immigration in order to appear stronger on border security. However, both parties are deeply divided on this issue, and it really goes beyond ideology and partisan politics. Some are calling for an immediate deportation of illegals in order for them to apply for the guest worker program. Others, including Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy have proposed legislation that would grant illegal immigrants work visas for up to six years, at which point they must leave the U.S. or be in the process of obtaining permanent residency via a green card.

The guest-worker program was first proposed by President Bush in January 2004, and has been sharply criticized by many from both parties because of the belief it will enable illegal immigrants to obtain legal status. Bush has been tactical in ensuring any immigration policy does not alienate Hispanic voters, or businesses which rely on illegal immigrants for its work force. These political pressures are likely to keep any real strong solution to the illegal immigration problem from developing. Border security is a concern for all of us, especially since 9/11. The vast majority of illegals are from Mexico, and Bush’s proposals to increase border security and expand detainment facilities for illegal crossers are hardly a solution for combating terrorism. All of the terrorists who entered the country before 9/11 did so legally, many via a Passport by plane or at the Canadian border by car, none crossed over the Mexican border, although there is always that possibility in the future. There is no practical plan that would ensure such an event would not happen, due to finite resources and our vast borders. The illegal immigrants currently working here are deemed necessary by some corporate interests to keep labor costs down and ensure healthy profits, and therefore a guest-worker program would benefit not only the illegals, but the businesses who hire them. Enforcement of current immigration laws which ban companies from hiring illegals is not in the interests of well organized and politically powerful businesses. They put a huge amount of pressure on politicians to back off on enforcing the law, and as a result reap the benefits of undocumented low wage labor with reduced healthcare costs and payroll taxes. These abuses have been exposed recently by the Wal-Mart scandal, although frequently small business owners have also been guilty of hiring undocumented workers because they cannot afford to pay higher wages to compete with big business.

A sure fire solution to the problem is simple, but will not happen within the context of the corporate controlled political landscape. By dramatically increasing and enforcing penalties, fines, and prison sentences for business owners who are caught hiring undocumented illegal aliens, and putting them on public trial, the incentive to hire illegals will disappear. The penalties imposed must far exceed any economic benefit these business owners derive from hiring illegal immigrants. If no one will hire them, the immigrants coming to the U.S. illegally will lose their incentive to cross the border. However, legal immigration could be encouraged through increased access and outreach towards those seeking a better life in America. Those aliens entering illegally today looking for work are not doing so because they are too lazy to apply for a visa, since many have proven to be hard working and willing to take manually intensive jobs, the problem has been a lack of access to legal immigration services. Perhaps a little less xenophobia on the part of some Americans could go along way towards easing a legal transition for immigrants to assimilate into our culture and a better way of life.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tim,

    Just found your blog on BlogTopSites.

    You make some good points. One thing I've learned though is that one must help others the way they think They need help--not in the way you think they do. Misdirected help is often hinders more than helps.

    Keep up the good blogging!

    Jude Cowell