Slamming the Door on Immigration Plan
Re “Bush Renews Migrant Pledge,” Nov. 22: President Bush’s recent attempts to reform immigration and relax standards for workers coming in from other countries presents several problems. It will begin to increase competition in skilled labor markets that were previously closed to illegal immigrants. These new workers are used to working harder than Americans for less money. And don’t fool yourself into thinking they aren’t as good as American workers -- they come here with a strong work ethic. Most don’t care about healthcare benefits and will use that too as a bargaining point. Wages will go down and businesses will save money.
Another problem is that most of these new workers will be renters and not homeowners. This means they won’t be part of the tax base that pays for the services they use. We also have the problem that it becomes easier for terrorists to filter into America as foreign workers, not exactly a smart thing to do when the risk of terrorism is so great.
A smarter solution might be to spend money and send our experts to help the Latin American people improve their own lives and maybe they would actually want to live in their own countries. We have expertise in all areas of society, and we could be drawing on our smartest and most experienced to assist other countries in improving basic services.
If we are going to give away jobs to foreigners “in cases where Americans will not fill that job,” shouldn’t we also do something to protect entry-level jobs for Americans?
As usual with Bush, it is not what he says that is key, but what he leaves out. The justification for his “temporary guest worker” plan is that these “part-time” immigrants will fill jobs that Americans refuse to take. What he leaves out, however, is the reason Americans refuse to take these jobs: The pay is abysmally low.
The work done by many immigrants is arduous, and often repugnant and hazardous. Yes, most Americans do reject such work, but only at the near minimum-wage remuneration offered by the owners of these businesses. Were these same owners forced to compete for labor in the same way that workers are forced to compete for jobs, then we would see wages in these fields skyrocket to their justified market levels.
Instead, Bush and the economic class he represents would be allowed to reap the benefits not only of cheap labor but of “disenfranchised” cheap labor, workers who are forced to work for the wage offered by society and yet who have no say in how that society is run.
The antidote to this scenario is to either enforce our immigration laws and keep the economic playing field level for American workers, or bestow upon every “temporary guest worker” a form of “temporary guest citizenship” so that his interests might be represented via the ballot in the society to which his labor is contributing. If American workers are forced to live by the law of supply and demand, then so too should American employers. All laws should apply equally, even economic ones.
Ronald O. Richards