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A Workable Guest Worker Program – One that Allows Freedom of Movement

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America could have a guest worker program similar to the Bracero Program that was started during World War II and the Canadian System that is in place today. First America must recognize a few simple truths. People from Mexico and Central America who come here to work love their own countries, their families and their cultures. They want to support their families and their countries and cultures but in order to do so they must find work, which they cannot do at home, so they come here.

Most of these people are poor, uneducated agrarian workers. If they are not working the land they are doing other menial tasks that are available to them. This is hard work but they are used to it and when they come to America they generally seek out the same type of work. We can use their labor in America but we should make sure they are not taking jobs from Americans. They should only be allowed to do those jobs that Americans are not willing to do or that we do not have enough Americans to fill.

We must also realize that most of the people coming to America from Mexico or Central America are young men who leave behind mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives and children who they send money to after they get a job in America. They also wish to return home to visit with their families, not to abandon them. If they find it impossible to return for these visits then the usual course of action for them is to bring their wives and children or other family members here, to America, to be with them. Thus the family unit is now united in America instead of where it should be, in their home country.

Under my proposal America must first change its laws so that a child born to parents who are not American Citizens does not become an American Citizen just because he happens to be born in America. We must take away this magnet. Second, we must identify those jobs that Americans will not do. The first that comes to mind is agriculture. You won’t find many Americans willing to bend over all day picking crops. I think we all know this. Two other areas of expertise that these Guest Workers seem to gravitate to are car washing and restaurant work. When is the last time you had your car washed by a person other than one of Hispanic origin? When is the last time you really looked at the people who took your order at a fast food restaurant or cleaned your table or swept the restaurant floor? I’m betting that if you paid close attention you would see that they too were of Hispanic origin. If you really paid attention you would see that the cook in your favorite Italian restaurant, steakhouse or burger joint is probably a nice hard working young man that comes from somewhere south of the border. In any event there are probably a hundred or more categories of jobs we could identify for these hard working Guest Workers that would be acceptable to all and yet not take a job from an American. One area they should not be working in is construction. They should not be framing, sheet rocking, roofing or pouring the foundations for the millions of homes being built in America every year. Not unless it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no American ready, willing and able to take that construction job.

Once we identify the jobs that we need workers for we must register these workers at the border, provide them with tamper-proof ID cards and transportation to their place of employment and housing, all pre-arranged with and paid for by their new employer.

In the case of large farms requiring great numbers of workers in rural areas this should be fairly simple. They can provide bunkhouses, cafeterias and clinics, which could be shared by a number of local employers, if necessary. (This is somewhat akin to the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program). Finding housing in urban areas for a great number of workers who may work for hundreds of different employers spread out over a large geographic area will be much more difficult, but not impossible. The key here is to put the onus on their employer to make the arrangements prior to hiring and transporting these workers. Housing these workers may have to take the form of large college style dormitories built at various locations throughout a city or take the form of modifying a number of existing apartments to accommodate shared living. The housing may have to be constructed in business parks or light industrial areas. Yes, there may be objections from city and county officials and from neighboring property owners but this comes with the territory. Medical care can be provided at already established local city clinics paid for by employers through vouchers or some other method.

These workers would be here to work, to send money back to support their families and to return to their families at any time they wanted. They could come and go as often as they like as long as they paid for their own transportation from America to their country of origin and back to their job, or not return at all. That would be strictly up to them. If the job they have pays them enough and their employer gives them enough time off I can envision a scenario where some workers who are within a days drive of the border may want to return to their families in Mexico on a regular basis perhaps even every weekend. The key here is that they would be free to travel back and forth. They would not have to sneak across our borders or pay a coyote to smuggle them across. They would have no reason to bring their families to America since they can freely travel home to visit them.

These workers would be here to work and nothing else. Yes of course they would be free to travel, shop, eat at restaurants, attend church and do the same things Americans are free to do. They could move about freely in our society without having to worry about being deported.

They would not be put on a path to Citizenship and we would not require them to assimilate. They could learn English in our night schools or through church groups and through employer sponsored English classes if they so desired. They would not be entitled to welfare or unemployment benefits. They would however be entitled to workers compensation benefits the same as any other employee who gets hurt on the job.

Remember they are citizens of their own country, not America. Think of it in terms of an American traveling to Russia or France or Japan to work. While in those countries he does his job and enjoys the benefits of freely moving about the countryside. He may stay one year, five years or twenty-five years. But while there he is only a guest. He is not offered citizenship nor does he seek it. He is still an American and can return to America to visit as many times as he can afford and that his employment will allow. At the end of his employment he will return to his family and friends in America.

This guest worker plan can also work in another way. There are millions of workers already here in America that are here illegally. They may be here from Mexico, Central America, Europe, Asia or elsewhere. If these workers were allowed the chance to sign up for this guest worker plan I believe they would do so. It is a win-win situation. They can register with the American authorities, receive their identification cards and return to their job, as long as it is a job on the authorized list of jobs that Americans will not do. For those who are working here in jobs that Americans would do they will probably continue to do so and not register. This leaves them in the precarious position of always looking over their shoulder for the Border Patrol.

Another route for them to follow is to give up the job they have, return to their family and country of origin and sign up for the guest worker program in order to take a job that Americans will not do. Again, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages of staying and constantly wondering if today will be the day they are caught and deported.

This plan does not authorize amnesty. It does not allow foreign guest workers to bring their families to America. On the contrary it encourages the foreign guest worker to go home as many times as he can to visit his family. It does not provide for government schooling or assistance. It does not allow all of the illegal aliens already living in America to stay. In fact as part of this legislation all employers should be prohibited from hiring any non-registered worker, which would hopefully force many of the illegals already here to leave voluntarily. Add a border fence, plus border enforcement and you have a workable Guest Worker program or as the administration likes to call it, Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

About A Decent Person

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Here in Austin an awful lot of the illegals are working in construction and various home repair and improvement trades. They do dry wall, painting, carpet, landscaping, cement work, etc. Those higher paid jobs need to be considered in any guest worker program as well.

    I do like your idea of not allowing those born in America to guest workers to automatically become citizens, but it’s such a radical change from our traditions that it’s going to be hard to pass. I’d say we should push a guest worker program with or without it, and limit the guest worker visas to either a 6 month term, or unmarried men only.

    BTW, I think the idea that mexicans come here with the intention of giving birth to kids here so those kids can become US citizens is largely a kind of paranoid urban legend.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    No, Dave, it’s not. It’s been acknowledged in public articles in the WP by several illegals that by having a kid born here & hence a citizen, they figure their chances of fighting deportation are immeasurably increased … which they are, at this juncture, as the law stands. I have long held that the provision that children born here no matter what the circumstances are automatically citizens, is a disaster & an insult to all those born here legally. That provision should be changed to conferring citizenship only on those whose parents are here legally, no exceptions.

    As for the agricultural industry providing bunkhouses, etc. there’s a large article in the WP today in which the large ag employers in California, etc. are whining because they can’t get enough cheap illegal labor due to the border tightening up, and also because illegals are flooding the construction industry now; but they’re also bitching that they can’t afford to provide any of the ‘perks’ such as temporary shelter, etc. Basically, they just want slave labor, but without the responsibility of providing for the slaves. I strongly suspect if these guys were given rope to hang themselves, they’d still be complaining about the quality of the rope & how they needed someone to hold the box for them so they could jump off.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/08/26/153054.php Bob Greenspan

    To make it real simple we need to (1) change the laws about becominmg an American Citizen just because you are born here. I have not researched it lately but I believe we are the only country that does this. I will check it out and post another comment here.
    (2) we need to allow the foreign guest workers to travel freely between America and their home countries. By doing this they won’t stay here forever because they are afraid of being caught and deported AND they won’t bring their families here (3) The housing in the cities can work itself out, just like it does now. (4) Farms must supply housing.

  • Nancy

    Bob, that IS currently one of the problems: according to the provisions of H2-A visas (ag guestworkers) farms MUST provide minimum housing, etc. for migrant workers; trouble is, the ag industry is balking at doing so. They want cheap-o labor; they don’t care if it’s US citizens or illegals, terrorists, or even pedophile congressmen as long as they don’t have to pay anything. My suggestion is they lease convicts from the state.

  • Bob Greenspan

    Hi Nancy. Thank you for your comments. The ag housing part of my post is just a minor issue. The real crux of what I am proposing is for the guest workers to be able to FREELY travel home to their families so they won’t bring them here. If you can go home to visit your wife, children, mother, father, brothers, sisters etc. any time you want without fear of being caught, jailed and deported then you have some dignity and self respect. You go home and show your friends your United States issued guest worker pass and they say you mean I can do the same thing? All I need to do is register with the U.S. Border patrol and look over the list of jobs and pick one I can do? Now I can get a job in America legally and I can come home to my family for Xmas and the birth of my children and other family events? No more hiding and sneaking over the border? Thank you Amigo, thank you and America very much.

  • Nancy

    Good idea: give non-criminal wannabe guestworkers visas allowing them in & out at need, to be rescinded and severely punished for any violations, like committing a crime, sneaking in family, overstaying the visa, etc. Criminals & violators should be used for medical & scientific experimentation. Now THAT would be a deterrant, IMO, far more than just jail or deportation.

    But that still doesn’t satisfy the wailing of the ag industry who have to spend an extra nickel or so putting up cardboard housing for their workers.

  • Clavos

    To make it real simple we need to (1) change the laws about becominmg an American Citizen just because you are born here. I have not researched it lately but I believe we are the only country that does this. (Emphasis mine).

    Not true. I have dual citizenship, as do both my younger siblings. We were all born in México of American parents.

    México prohibited dual citizenship until 1998, when the law was changed. At that time, all three of us applied for and received our citizenship.

    I don’t know unequivocally if other countries confer citizenship on those born on their soil, but I’m willing to bet many do.

    I just did a quick google check: Australia also confers citizenship automatically to those born there.

    Personally, and for obvious reasons, I like Nancy’s idea: that those born in US of legal resident parents should be entitled to citizenship.

  • Jordan

    No they come here to escape the lives they have there. in flordia blacks wash cars. and before illegal immigrants blacks picked crops. and they were paied a whole lot more than an illegal immigrant.

  • Dallas

    Let them in! register, propertly tax them (that it would pay for there med. bills + some for gov.), and let them work. Otherwise if the USA will decide to build a massive wall at Mexica’s border who are going to do the work.
    Agree not every child born in the USA must be the citizen.
    Moreover, last coment about the bleck people doing the work. As far as I am considered this kind of competition would improve quolaty of the service they provide.