1.07.2004

POLITICS - Burning River of Fire

Immigrants. If you're an American, you're probably an immigrant. Unfortunately, many Americans think we have more than enough immigrants, thank you very much. There are somewhere around 8-14 million illegal immigrants in the United States, with about 70% from Mexico, and most can be found in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New York.

Ok. We knew all that already. So what's the deal with Bush's proposed immigration reform? Has Bush turned into a bleeding heart liberal who wants to help the world's less fortunate find a high paying job? Or is this shameless pandering to the crucial hispanic voting bloc?

The NYTimes, Talking Points, and Calpundit have a rundown of the specifics.

The plan seeks to match "workers with employers", as long as no Americans are available to fill the job. So this is a type of indentured servant program, and the employer will have to pay a fee (currently undetermined). Off the top of my head, I'm not exactly sure how this part of the program will work successfully. With the current job market, there are plenty of Americans looking for work. It sounds like this will mostly leave jobs for unskilled laborers.

The questions is, how many employers of large numbers of unskilled laborers are willing to jump through hoops to legalize these workers? I grew up in rural Texas, and many of the landowners would hire illegal workers during regular crop cycles. This is a type of temporary labor, and I doubt that any of those landowners want to pay fees and be held liable for these undocumented workers.

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Some Americans (not me) are going to scream "Foul" for rewarding illegal behavior. Is this sytem fair to the thousands of people who have been waiting for legal documentation, some for nearly a decade? This program increases the number of green cards, but even the immigrants who come forward are not promised a green card and face the possibility of deportation after a period of time. Again, does this ultimately reward the immigrants who don't come forward?

I think that Calpundit provides the most succinct point:

What's more, this sounds all too typical of a Bush program, and I suspect there will be more bad news as the details are released. The Bushies rarely have the courage to push a genuinely conservative agenda, which they know is unpopular, but instead hide conservative time bombs in legislation that's clothed in the rhetoric of traditional liberalism. I suspect that this is happening yet again with this proposal, so I'll withhold judgment until I hear more about it.



And yes, the title of this post refers to comedian Jake Johanssen's solution for immigration. It'd be ugly, but it would certainly discourage border-hopping. Of course, the best solution for immigration would be to work hand-in-hand with Mexico to rebuild their economy so there aren't so many people forced to look to the US for a job. (Yeah, that's crazy talk, I know.)

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