Immigration capitulation

As mad as I am about the Dems bending over and dropping trou for the Decider on the Iraq war bill, there’s actually another case of “surrender monkeying” that bothers me more, and that’s the much-heralded “guest worker” immigration compromise that is also (in all likelihood) going to fly its way to Bush’s seal of approval soon.

Why does this bother me?

I don’t think it’s coincidental that this bill came up concurrently with the Dems tying domestic spending–including the long-awaited minimum wage increase–to the Iraq bill. Businesses are apoplectic at the idea of actually having to pay their workers more, so the concept of flooding the country with hundreds of thousands of “guest workers” who’ll work for less than $7.25 seems like an attractive sop indeed. The Senate, at least, showed some gumption by halving the number of approved guest workers from 400,000 to 200,000. But that’s still 200,000 more workers who will be able to drain bargaining power away from American workers through their will to work for less. On top of that, many of those workers will have to go back to their home countries between stays in America if they’re heads of a household–and how easy do you think it’ll be for them to get back in once the gates slam behind them?

So it’ll be an endless revolving door of cheap labor that American workers in the retail and service industries will have to compete against, reducing their strength to bargain and overall market power.

But business doesn’t get a free hand in this bill–no, sir. The onerous new reporting and eligibility requirements have employers seeing red:

The bill would require all employers to enroll in the Basic Pilot program within 18 months of the law’s enactment, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it would have to add from 30,000 to 40,000 employers per day to meet that deadline, Aitken said. In addition, employers would have to re-verify their entire existing workforce within three years of the bill becoming law, he said. “A longer phase-in time would be more realistic,” he stated. The bill increases the amount of paperwork related to the employment verification process and requires employers to keep each employee’s documents on file for up to seven years, he added.

Over at Dr. Identity, I note what a tremendous security disaster and potential privacy invasion this bill will be. Imagine a gigantic database of taxpayer and employee information that stays on record for seven years, is searchable by DHS, and may contain inaccurate information that no one can verify? It makes REAL ID look like a lazy Sunday afternoon.

They say that compromise is a solution everyone hates. If that’s the case, then this bill definitely fulfills the definition. It screws pretty much everyone without lube, and the idea that the Dem leadership would so willingly hand this to Bush just so he can claim victory disappoints me to no end. People keep talking about the urgency of solving this, and I just don’t see it. Iraq is urgent. Global warming is urgent. This is a huge problem that will take years to solve, and ramming through a miserable failure of a bill like this does a disservice not only to the complexity of the issues, but to the public’s ability to tell truth from pandering bullshit.

6 replies »

  1. Absolutely right, Martin. Paul Krugman has a good column in today’s NY Times on the antidemocratic effect of a large nonvoting working class. That’s what we have now, of course, with the millions of undocumented workers, so something must be done. But not this bill.

  2. Then there’s the whole question of morality; that is, should we of the fortunate North keep our brethren of the unfortunate South from tasting some of our goodies by closing the borders? And if we open the borders, are we in fact harming our own less fortunate compatriots even more by reducing their already low wages? In short, how do we balance these competing demands on our (admittedly limited) sense of morality. Well, I don’t know

  3. I’ve recently written my weekly column for the newspaper I write for on an equivalent problem in South Africa. Understand that the Democrats have a conflicted / contradictory approach to foreigners. On the one hand a recently passed bill (included in the Iraq deal) limits US trade to countries who meet minimum labour standards (aimed squarely at Mexico and the near Latino neighbours); on the other is this permanent objection to opening the borders to guest workers.

    Businesses simply look for the lowest price to do business exactly as shoppers look for the lowest price to buy. If it is the same price to do business in Mexico as in Texas they’ll stay in Texas where they know the rules.

    If jobs don’t go to Mexico and the US refuses to create jobs for Mexicans in the US then Hugo Chavez has another convert.