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Bush Plans to Revive Guest Worker Plans for Illegal Immigrants

By July 24, 2005

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The Los Angeles Times reports today that President Bush plans to revive his campaign to loosen laws against illegal immigrants working in the US.

In January 2004, the President proposed a Guest Worker Program that would allow non-citizens to work in the US in certain jobs for up to six years. Both liberals and conservatives had reservations and many questions about the administration's ideas, which never resulted in a formal legislative proposal.

Says the Times today, "Worried that the tone of the immigration debate is pushing Latinos away from the Republican Party, the White House is working with political strategists to create a broad coalition of business groups and immigrant advocates to back a plan President Bush could promote in Congress and to minority voters in the 2006 elections....

The push is being planned to coincide with next year's campaigns for the House and Senate, in which Latino voters could be crucial in several states. It is part of a broader White House strategy to forge a long-lasting majority by drawing more minority voters....

The effort is designed to help Bush take control of an increasingly contentious debate that has threatened to split the Republican Party and undermine its outreach to Latino voters. Although the White House has not laid out details for a plan, in January 2004 Bush proposed a guest-worker program that would be open to many illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and to prospective workers abroad."

Immigration plans and absorption into the US workforce of illegal immigrants is a complex issue, one that doesn't neatly fall into "liberal" and "conservative" stances, especially for the Southwest states with millions of illegal immigrants.

On one hand, many liberals lament that the President's plan gives workers no guarantee or fast-track to permanent residency. Instead, it merely uses them inhumanely as "cheap labor," replacing them and sending them home after six years. Under the President's plan, businesses can pay such workers less than minimum wage and not have to comply with federal work condition standards.

On the other hand, many conservatives and liberals vehemently object to illegal immigrants working in the US because...well, they're here illegally, overburdening public education, health and law enforcement systems and taking jobs away from US workers. And some conservatives balk at the concept of honoring the illegal actions by making such immigrants "de facto" temporarily legal.

The Bush Administration supports a Guest worker Program for immigrants for two main reasons.....1. Being an extremely pro-business administration, this plan helps further corporate profits by allowing less to be spent per employee. and 2. Bush expects to reap more Latino votes in 2006 Congressional elections from this drive.

Like always, noticeably absent from Bush arguments for this program are compassion for immigrant workers (or anyone), and concern for morality and "doing the right thing," whatever that might be. Of course.

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