It is starting to look to me like our border will never be secure, we are too humane
if someone gets caught crossing illegally, we give them food, medical care and an attorney
if they get through they are given food, medical care, attorney, rent, babysitter, cash and SS benefits.........
(and immunity from prosecution from many crimes that would land a Citizen in jail)
Guest Worker Proposal Gets Mixed Reviews
As details of Bush's plan emerge, some illegal immigrants embrace it. Others say they see no benefit. Advocates question its practicality.
Times Staff Writer
September 24, 2005
Standing outside a magazine shop on Alvarado Street near downtown Los Angeles, Margot Jimenez points out the men selling fake green cards and the women hawking fruit from illegal carts.
To Jimenez, the lack of a guest worker program invites problems and abuses, because without such protection, many illegal immigrants must work in the underground economy. And there, she says, they often work in adverse conditions at minimum wage or less.
"That will only stop when there's work permits," Jimenez, who came here illegally from Honduras two years ago, said Friday. "All those people taking advantage of undocumented people would stop."
For this reason, Jimenez welcomed the details of President Bush's proposal for a temporary worker program. But other undocumented immigrants expressed concern that they would be required to return to their native countries after participating in the program.
After some details were made public, the proposal also drew criticism Friday from immigrants' rights advocates and those who favor tighter immigration controls.
Bush had proposed a temporary worker program early last year to "match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs." Administration officials have been presenting details to lawmakers during meetings in Washington, according to Republicans who have attended the meetings.
Under the proposal, undocumented immigrants would first pay a substantial fine as a penalty for being in the country illegally. They then could apply for a three-year work visa with the possibility of one extension. After participating in the program, the immigrants would have to return to their native countries. The proposal would also include more security at the border and more sanctions against employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
Immigrants' rights advocates say it's impractical to have a temporary worker program that does not offer immigrants any path toward permanent residency or citizenship. Undocumented immigrants would be unlikely to apply in large numbers for such a program, they said.
"This proposal leaves a big gap," said John Trasviña, a senior vice president at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Trasviña said that reform is so badly needed that there should not be a time limit. "It doesn't serve the workers and it doesn't serve the employers," he said. "People don't return after a particular date. Employers don't stop hiring workers after a particular date."
A guest worker program should also include labor protections, said Linton Joaquin, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center's Los Angeles office. "Guest workers, in particular, are subject to abuse and exploitation, so there really has to be attention to this," he said.
Just home from a hard day laying irrigation pipe in a field near Oxnard, farm worker Octavio Tapia said he didn't see anything good about a proposal that would allow him to work legally in the United States only to have to return to his native Mexico for good.
Tapia, 22, arrived illegally in 2002 from the Mexican state of Guanajuato and has worked the harvest in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties ever since, picking berries and slicing celery.
If such an immigration program were enacted, he said, he believes the move would lead to a shortage of workers and a continued reliance on illegal immigrants.
"If you come here and do this work, you should have the opportunity to stay here permanently," said Tapia, his hands and jeans stained brown from a day toiling in the dirt. "In this [farm] economy, there will always be a need for workers like us."
Bush's proposal also has drawn criticism from anti-illegal immigration groups.
"It's an amnesty, any way you look at it," said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Mehlman said the government should concentrate on enforcing laws already on the books against employers, rather than on passing new laws and approving a temporary worker program.
"The only way to effectively deal with illegal immigration is to make it clear to people that there is no benefit to coming to this country illegally, and if you're here, there is no benefit to staying," he said.
Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies, said the White House thinks that a temporary worker program is a "magic wand that will fix everything," he said.
"Whatever Karl Rove and the president say, these people will get green cards eventually," he said. "There is nothing as permanent as a temporary worker."
Jimenez said a guest worker program would help her because she would be able to go home with more money and fewer barriers to her return.