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The Solution to Immigration Reform Lies with Combining the Best of Two Worlds

LatinaLista — Several news stories over the weekend highlighted the heart of what has gone terribly wrong with this whole immigration debate.
The focus has been on the undocumented workers themselves.

Guest Mexican workers prepare sandwiches at a Texas retreat.
(Source: The Dallas Morning News)

Yet, the real problem does not lie with people coming here illegally; it’s the businesses that need them.
Not in the sense that they take advantage of the undocumented or want to hire cheaper labor, because pretty soon those excuses/reasons won’t be valid anymore.
Rather, the real problem is that this economy, a.k.a. businesses, needs the manpower to operate or it will go bust and that’s not good news for any country.

What brings this fact into clearer focus is that today the H2B guest worker program expires. That means that only 66,000 workers from other countries will be allowed into the United States to work. The problem is that there were 72,000 workers who came last year through a cap exemption for the program, and that still wasn’t enough to fill the demand.
The demand is only going to get worse since employers are scared of violating federal or recently passed state laws that heavily fine employers if it’s found they have hired and are using undocumented workers.
But according to the news stories, Congress has no plans to extend the exemption cap and so what will happen?
The worst case scenario is that small businesses who are the backbone of our economy will go out of business. Why? Because with fewer workers or workers who demand a higher salary, these businesses’ prices will go up.
How many times do we balk at paying higher prices, especially when it’s for luxury items like going out to eat or skiing or buying seafood or a host of things that aren’t necessities in our lives but are things we like to do?
When this happens, it’s usually the small businesses that suffer from our waves of cautious consumerism.
The H2B program has been a way for some businesses, obviously not nearly enough, to take advantage of immigrant labor — legally.
The H2B guest worker program is not ideal. There’s too much paperwork and it obligates the worker to only work for the employer for whom they stipulated on the visa they would work for.
Since the workers have to pay for all their own visa and recruitment fees, experts say that the workers arrive already in debt. If the employer is abusive towards the worker, there’s nothing the worker can do since going home still in debt is not an option.
Yet, those workers who do work for fair employers like the fact that they don’t have to be afraid of ICE and can go back to their families after only being away for 10 months.
The solution to the immigration problem seems to be to combine the plight of the undocumented workers and the need of businesses to produce an equitable solution that doesn’t criminalize a people who have a need to earn money to live and an economy that has a need to make money to prosper.
Unfortunately, as much as Congress thinks this issue can wait until the next President comes on board, the signs are already materializing that that isn’t the case.
It looks like Congress will be dragged kicking and screaming to address this issue sooner rather than later — again!

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  • Deport Lou Dobbs
    October 1, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Here in Utah we have a bustling economy with a 2.3% unemployment rate. It is estimated that over 100,000 undocumented migrants live in Utah. Obviously they are not stealing anyone’s job.
    The truth is that the labor of these migrants is needed. It is immoral that they are not given a pathway towards citizenship and this treatment is incongruent with how this nation treated the European immigrant who came here to fill the need for labor.

  • Frank
    October 1, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    No,it isn’t obvious that they didn’t steal anyone’s job. They just work cheaper.
    If additional LEGAL foreign labor is truly needed, then employers need to let our government know. There is no excuse on the part of the employer or the illegal to circumvent our laws.
    We should never reward immigration violators with a path to citizenship. We did that back in 1986 and look where we are today.

  • Deport Lou Dobbs
    October 1, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    They work cheaper than whom? There is a 2.3% unemployment rate in Utah. If the wages were doubled there still would be no one to do the job.
    If additonal legal foreign help is needed then there is a need for comprehensive immigration reform that allows workers to do the needed work. I do not mean a temporary workers program. That sham will only hurt workers on both sides of the border.
    Reagan did not address any of the issues that cause this migration. He cared only about providing cheap labor. Newer trade policies have worsened the economic conditions south of the border. That is why we need a comprehensive immigration reform.
    Providing the undocumented a pathway towards citizenship is neither a reward nor an amnesty than it is a “moral pardon” for the mean-spirited anti-immigration forces who spew false information to defend a racist agenda.
    Whie I appreciate the tone of your argument I disagree with it.

  • Frank
    October 2, 2007 at 7:48 am

    They work cheaper than Americans. This is a no brainer. There are very few jobs that Amercians won’t do for a fair wage.
    The problem about a “comprehensive” immigration reform is that the pro-illegal side wants a path to citizenship for the illegals already here. I am opposed to that. They need to return to their own countries and re-apply to come here legally. I am in favor of increasing the numbers of temporary workers if there is a proven need. Many of these illegals don’t wish to become Americans anyway, their loyalties lie with their home countries and they don’t wish to assimilate to our society. They are here to earn money. Thus temporary workers makes a lot more sense.
    It is truly sad that the pro-illegal side continues to pull the race card. For most Americans like myself it has nothing to do with race but everything to do with our nations laws, soveirgnty and controlling our population growth while making sure that Americans have jobs first for a fair wage.

  • Deport Lou Dobbs
    October 2, 2007 at 9:28 am

    The greatest tool a racist has is to say “don’t pull the race card.” Your posts do not sound racist but I doubt if they have not been influenced by racist thoughts of others. It does sound funny that you immediately come to this weak defense of race.
    There is only one race and that is the human race.
    True, many undocumented workers will return to their country.
    Now go troll on a White Supremacist site and tell them to stop being so devisive and unAmerican. Why dont you lecture them on assimilating? Hatred and racism is unamerican. Oh, you just like telling the non-whites about your dislikes in life.
    I need to get to class. Obvioulsy you have all the time in the world to troll on sites that support things that drive you crazy.
    See you later Mr. Wizard.
    Best of wishes to the wife and kids.

  • Frank
    October 2, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Again insults rather than intelligent, civil debating. It is the tactics of the pro-illegal crowd. Of course any white person who is opposed to illegal immigration is divisive, un-American and a supremist to you and yours. They aren’t assimilated if opposed to illegal immigration? The real hatred would be not caring about our laws and the future of this country of which you don’t seem to care about.
    Offering an opinion is not trolling it is called debating. A thing you know nothing about, only personal insults.

  • El Loco
    October 2, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Perhaps the best thing to do is to send the undocumented migrants back to their countries of origin and watch the businesses that depend on their labor collapse, price themselves out of the market, and/or have customers pay higher prices for the goods these businesses deliver. It seems that the only way to get the point across that there is a need for these immigrants that the current system cannot accommodate is to experience the consequences of sending them back.
    Want to know what happens when you try to do that? Check this NY Times piece.
    RIVERSIDE, N.J., Sept. 25 — A little more than a year ago, the Township Committee in this faded factory town became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant. . . With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.
    Be careful what you wish for.

  • Frank
    October 2, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    There are far more important things to be concerned about than a slow down in the economy. Like our soveringty as a nation, our laws, secure borders and our population growth. The USA has been thru depressions and recessions and market crashes, we will survive as always and be better off for it. Returning to morality rather than this continued corruptness can’t be a bad thing. Bring it on!

  • El Loco
    October 2, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Are you independently wealthy?
    Because that’s the only way I could figure you would find a “slow down in the economy” not to be a big deal.
    Besides, the points are that (1) the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants are living productive lives in the U.S. They work, by-and-large pay taxes and contribute to the social security system; (2) it would cost well over $150 billion to track down and deport all the undocumented migrants only to have them stand in line to come in again. I can think of a lot of other things we can put that kind of money into and get more out of it; and (3) everything we do – or not do – will have consequences attached to it. We should be aware of what those consequences will be before making an impulsive, emotional decision.

  • adriana
    October 2, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Uh, a return to morality?!
    Oh dear, not the morality police. Those that scream morality are often the biggest hypocrites and the most corrupt (see Senators Craig and Vittor, and Rep. Mark Foley, Bob Barr, William “Mr. Virtures” Bennet, Rev. Jim Bakker, etc).
    I don’t think that Frank realizes the extent that the US depends on immigrant labor. We are even using them to fight the war in Iraq. I have a post about it on my own blog. I don’t think the powers that be in the military would be so aggressive in recruiting immigrant labor if they truly did not need them.

  • Frank
    October 2, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    No, I am not independantly weathly, not by a long shot. I just happen to value morality and the rule of law more than money.
    If we can spend billions on the Iraq war, surely we have the money to deport illegal alines. Beside we won’t have to deport most of them, they will go home voluntarily once we go after their employers and they no longer have a job.
    adrian, guess you don’t know the difference between “immigrant” labor and “illegal alien” labor? For every illegal there is working in this country there is a legal immigrant waiting to take their job.
    Unlike some of our politicians, I practice what I preach. I am opposed to immorality and I am no hypocrite about it.

  • adriana
    October 2, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Of course, there is a difference between illegal/undocumented workers and immigrant labor. If you read the article that I link to, you will learn that yes, there are illegal aliens serving in our armed forces. It is alarming no matter what side of the immigration debate you stand on because of how these people were conned into service.
    Our brand of capitalism in America probably won’t survive without immigrant labor, including illegals. We haven’t found ways to outsource or automate some of the most menial tasks, so we leave them to the invisible/underground workforce.
    Ha, stopping the Iraq War to deport illegals?!… not going to happen. Too many people profit off both of these things for that to occur anytime soon.

  • Frank
    October 3, 2007 at 7:55 am

    It is alarming to me that a non-citizen can serve in our armed forces. What loyalty do they have to this country? It is strickly mercenary and shame on our government for allowing this.
    I agree that some immigrant labor for certain jobs is needed but why do you include illegals into the equasion? It doesn’t make sense when we have immigrants waiting to come here legally to do them.
    I never said we should stop the Iraq war to deport illegals. I said that if we can afford the Iraq war, surely we can also afford to deport illegal aliens.

  • adriana
    October 3, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    If we can afford Iraq (and in the long term, maybe we really can’t), we can afford lots of things like a basic level of health care for all Americans or even more affordable higher education.
    As far as illegals/undocumented workers, we have an obvious need for these people or else American businesses wouldn’t be hiring them. The Armed Forces have been having trouble meeting recruitment targets, so they focus their efforts on Latinos, including the undocumented. It is ironic that these immigrants are willing to fight a war that our President cannot even convince his own daughters to contribute to, but that’s another story (where’s their loyalty?). I have heard some people say that they think allowing immigrants, illegal or otherwise, to enlist is a positive thing. The military is just one example of where we are experiencing a labor shortage.

  • Frank
    October 3, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Businesses are hiring illegals because they work cheaper. That is the sum reason, not because they need them in most cases.
    As far as our military needs, I think we should reinstate the draft. That would solve the problem of any shortages. I also think that only citizens should serve in our military.

  • flower
    October 3, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    do not cover your racims with the law.
    everybody know USA can broke any law if we want, a example Irak. USA violated UN law, destroying a country, killing iraq children.
    So be honest in your argument. face the true it is about latino population, we are white and we don’t want any latino power.

  • Frank
    October 4, 2007 at 8:53 am

    So you can’t debate without pulling the race card? So typical of the illegal alien supporters. Nothing in my post could possbily be construed as racism and I am not a racist in any sense of the word!
    I have never been in favor of the Iraq war but I can’t control what our government does nor am I to blame for what they do. This has nothing to do with our immigration laws that the majority of American citizens want followed.
    The only thing I have against Latinos in political power in this country is that the ones already in power have proven that they don’t care about those laws. They are ethnically driven just like many Latinos are. That is not good for this country. A politician must be unbiased and care about American citizens as a whole no matter what their race or skin color is. And they certainly shouldn’t be putting foreigners above the rule of law.

  • Samantha
    October 4, 2007 at 10:20 am

    I think that the key word in this debate is ILLEGAL. What the government should be doing is working to make immigration reforms in order to allow more people to immigrate into our country.
    The main problem for many Americans who don’t believe in giving the rights of a citizen to illegal immigrants is what happened on 9/11 and the government’s laid back view on immigration and visas at the time of the attacks. This is not to say that these latino/a immigrants are going to blow up any buildings, but people are more conscious now about illegal immigration.
    I completely understand that our economy and workforce need these people, but the bottom line is they need to go through the same process as everyone else trying to get into this country. We can’t bypass laws and make it easier so that we can use them. Immigrants are here legally and should have the same rights and same pay as everyone else. I know that this is easier said than done, but I really believe in it. Those who try to hire them and treat them poorly should be punished to the highest degree of the law. I think that Latinos/as should have a greater voice, but the only way that they can be taken seriously by everyone else is if they are here legally. They shouldn’t be fighting in wars if they are not, they shouldn’t be receiving town benefit cards (like in New Haven, CT), and they shouldn’t be obtaining jobs. The government needs to step up and help them become citizens. And if these people’s only intention is to work for a short while, send the US’s money back to their homeland, and then go home after some period (as many do) then they shouldn’t be allowed to work here.
    This is not me being racist, it is simply me being proud of my country and that I am an American. Yes, I was privileged enough to be born here and I have no problem with others becoming citizens from other countries. What we need to do as latinos/as and Americans in general is step up and try to get immigration reform passed in order for these people to be here legally. We need to step up, get in their face, and say “si se puede”. If we only sit here and voice these opinions online and do nothing to help these people become citizens then it is all worthless.

  • adriana
    October 4, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    No politician is unbiased. Remember what Tip O’Neal said about all politics being local? You can see back east how many Irish-American politicians cater to their own ethnic group.
    Frank, I would encourage you to read the article that I have posted on my own blog about the Iraq war and immigration (legal and otherwise). If you are this angry about it, call your representative, do a little digging at your local military recruiter’s office, etc. While one cannot “control” the govt, we can influence it. And although I disagree with much of what you say, you do have a right to voice your thoughts to our government officials. I find it ironic that the same federal govt that seeks to deport so many illegal immigrants doesn’t seem to have a problem using them in the “war on terror.”

  • Frank
    October 4, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Samantha, we can only take in immigrants that we have jobs for that an American won’t do for a fair wage. We also have to keep in mind the population growth in this country. We have 300 million in this country now, above what the experts say is the carrying capacity of this nation. Right now we have a population driven economy. That will spell disaster for us in the future if we continue down this road. As far as what legal immigrants we can absorb in keeping with the above criterias, there should be fair quotas from several countries, not just one in particular.
    We should not be awarding amnesty nor citizenship to those who violated our immigration laws. We did that back in 1986 and look where we are now. They should go back home and apply to come here legally like everyone else.
    adriana, I don’t know of any white politican who caters to white people nowadays. It isn’t PC in todays world and whites are always the first to accused of racism. You forget about Ted Kennedy an Irish-American who is a champion for illegal aliens and we know the majority of them aren’t white but Hispanic.
    You have no idea just how involved I am in making things right in our corrupt government today. I am retired and have a lot of time on my hands and there is nothing more important to me than to get the message across to the powers that be that they will not give my country away. I do it on a daily basis.
    I agree that illegals should not be serving in our military. I have made my opinion known on that too.

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