James Ridgeway writes
on Common dreams and Mother Jones
Key to the Bush administrationâ€™s approach to immigration reform is the controversial guest worker program, which preserves the flow of cheap, low-skilled labor to American businesses while limiting the potential costs to employers and taxpayers. Under the program, there will be no children to educate (since guest workers wonâ€™t be allowed to bring their families with them), no old-age entitlements to dole out (since workers will have to return home after working here for a maximum of six years), not even any health care to pay for (since these low-wage workers will be required to purchase health insurance).The very existence of this program as a central tenet of the Kennedy-Kyl legislation, the bi-partisan immigration compromise that has drawn attacks from the left and right and inspired some of the most overwrought rhetoric in recent memory, points to the essential hypocrisy of the anti-immigrant stance. It appears their goal is not to keep out immigrants, who are indispensable to the U.S. economy, but rather to control and exploit them more effectively. Why give them the opportunity to become citizens-or even permanent residents-if we can get what we need from them and then send them packing?
Once again, the left establishment is getting feedback they aren`t used to:
I agree â€” but, Iâ€™m afraid I disagree. Thereâ€™s a band of us in California who disagree with this, most severely. We just want it to STOP!!As a matter of fact, weâ€™re convinced that there is some money behind it all.When will it STOP!!
I wonder about the American who defends his â€?rightâ€? to be here. Do you really care about the illegal, or are you just a shill for the rich scum who are exploiting him, and depressing American workersâ€™ wages. Or, are you just afraid of losing your nanny?
I keep hearing that America would not be able to survive a day without low skilled immigrant workers. Basic economics would state otherwise because American workers would fill the positions once the working conditions and wages are improved. Improving working conditions is what we should be doing anyway. If we are using low skilled labor instead of improving wages and working conditions we are exploiting the workers.
Now even Mother Jones is selling out low-income working families! These words, â€?â€¦we couldnâ€™t survive a day without them. These 12 million undocumented workers, who are for the most part employed, are only filling an obvious need. They are vital to the profits of American agribusiness (which also stands to be a primary beneficiary of the guest worker program) and form the backbone of the low-cost workforce in the service industriesâ€¦â€? is the same snake oil Corporate America keeps spewing. Weâ€™re supposed to care about the profits of AGRIBUSINESS?And as to the service industries, Iâ€™ll bet many readers here started their working lives (like I did) waiting tables, as bank tellers or store clerks, etc. â€” either right out of high school or to help with college tuition. Where are todayâ€™s teens supposed to get work experience? (Unless you think hanging out at the mall with your own credit card and cellphone is a character-building experience.)
My own comment:
James Ridgeway shows some fundamental ignorance of the immigration issue. He claims that immigrants are "essential" to the American economy. However, it is clear that we have examples like Korea and Japan that lack America`s natural resources, have virtually no net immigration, high levels of income equality and virtually no foreign borrowing have economies that are growing faster in productivity per worker than the US economy is.I agree that current legislation is calculated to increase control over immigrants-it is also calculated to maintain control over US citizens and mine the economic value of citizenship. It isn`t just illegal immigration that is a problem. One of the groups most impacted by immigration policy have been US tech workers-one of the most skilled -and unruly-groups.I would suggest that mass immigration is no more essential to the US economy than heroin is to addicts. Short run, withdrawal from Heroin is very painful-even debilitating. Long run, staying on heroin is deadly.The US needs to move towards a sustainable and sensible economy. Mass immigration-and massive foreign borrowing-helps prevent the US from doing that. Just as heroin maintains the illusion of freedom from pain in the presence of poor health, immigration maintains the illusion of growth when real productivity, investment in human capital and is falling-and the value of citizenship is endangered..Withdrawing from immigration will be extremely painful to the wealthy interests that have supported mass immigration-and the social/political interests that have maintained power through mass immigration. The US currently gets over 10 Million immigration applications each year—and accepts fewer than 1 Million. It isn`t clear that the selection criteria here makes sense for either Americans or the source countries-but is largely motivated by wealthy and influential interests. We need a policy which makes the US a respected world citizen-and which is better for existing US citizens.We need to look at the combination of factors that have taken the US towards this bad turn. It was a mistake to allow mass poverty to persist in North America-when with relatively modest steps much of it could have been eliminated. It was a mistake to allow the concentration of wealth that has been associated with mass immigration-and the attendant concentration of political power. Those mistakes can and should be corrected.Rather than yet another expansion of immigration(as proposed by current legislation) or a mass, rapid deportation, I tend to favor an immigration policy that is immediately accompanied less net legal immigration than we have now(which is what most Americans want). Those immigrants that find it necessary to leave should be largely encouraged to leave by financial incentives-and disincentives. This could be initially funded in large part by collection of the $25,000 per violation for employers that is already on the book-and the proceeds used to provide resettlement allowances and improvement of infrastructure in major source countries of illegal immigration.Long run, the wealthy in the US and Latin America have a huge mess they profitted from and need to be held accountable for fixing.
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