President Bush announced in a meeting with Mexico's President Vicente Fox in November that he will give "high priority" in 2005 to his guest worker plan that will grant legal status to the four to six million Mexican nationals (and others) now working in the United States illegally. That proposal was first announced in January of 2004 as a set of "principles."
However, since it was never introduced in Congress as legislation, no details are known about the plan. The public needs answers to the many questions raised by the proposal. Among those questions are the following:
QUESTIONS ABOUT AMNESTY
1. The president says his plan does not offer amnesty to lawbreakers, but if an unlawful act is forgiven and not penalized, is that not the same as amnesty? Isn't it amnesty if people who entered our country illegally are not required to go home before applying for a work permit?
2. Why is it not reasonable to believe that offering a "legal route to employment" for people who entered the country illegally will only encourage millions more to follow the same path in the expectation that they, too, will eventually be offered legal status? Is The White House aware that the National Border Patrol Council, which represents rank and file Border Patrol agents, says the president's plan will produce another surge in illegal alien traffic?
3. The president says that his plan will free up the Border Patrol to catch drug smugglers and terrorists. In view of the very real terrorist threat facing our nation and the certainty that terrorists are well aware of how easy it is to cross our open borders, would it not be more sensible and much safer for the country to first make our borders secure and then experiment with new guest worker programs, rather than the other way around?
4. What about the 150,000 people coming across our borders each year from outside Mexico, hundreds of them from countries on the State Department's watch list of nations known to harbor terrorists? Why is border security taking a backseat to a temporary worker program?
5. The president says his temporary worker plan will be limited to "jobs Americans won't do." But since willingness to do any job is always relative to the wages being offered for that job, isn't it true that millions of jobs will be lost by Americans to foreign labor willing to work at a lower wage? When an employer lowers the wage of a job so only a foreign worker will take the job, as is already happening in construction trades and many other occupations, how can anyone say this is not taking jobs away from Americans?
6. The president frequently describes his plan as one that "will match willing workers with willing employers." Since his plan puts no limits on the types of jobs to be included, isn't it likely that employers will find additional millions of "willing workers" to fill millions of jobs at lower wages?
WHAT IS A "TEMPORARY WORKER"?
7. The president says his plan will allow "temporary workers" to take jobs for a three year term, renewable to six years. If a worker signs up for the program to obtain legal employment and works six years, but then does not want to go home because he now has a wife and also three children born in the United States, will the plan require him to go home? If he returns home, what happens to his wife and children?
8. If the temporary worker is not required to go home after his term of employment expires, then isn't it more accurate to call the president's plan a new immigration program with built-in preference for immigrants from Mexico and Central America? If a "temporary worker" is allowed to file an application for citizenship and to remain in the United States after his temporary work permit expires, is this not really an immigration program and not a temporary worker program?
9. The president says his plan will include stepped up enforcement of labor laws to punish employers who continue to hire illegal workers. But isn't it true that this same promise was made to Congress and the American people in 1986 and that promise was never kept?
10. Since current laws against hiring illegal workers are virtually unenforceable, what specific changes is the president proposing to curtail and penalize this employment practice? Will employers be required to verify a valid Social Security number (available to any legal worker) before offering employment? Will Social Security cards be made fraud-proof? Will illegal workers who use phony Social Security cards or other people's numbers be deported and not merely fired and allowed to seek a different job as is the case today?
11. The president says that offering a legal way to find work in the U.S. will bring an end to the border problems. But if our borders are not made truly secure, won't millions of desperate people continue to enter illegally way instead of waiting in line for a work permit?
COMPETENCE AND CAPABILITIES OF OUR ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
12. If today's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement cannot locate the 400,000 "absconders" who have already been ordered deported, including almost 100,000 criminal aliens, and if this enforcement agency can't intercept and deport the criminal aliens already incarcerated in our jails, nor the two million student, tourist, and other "visa overstays," why should anyone believe they will be willing and able to locate and deport an additional six to eight million "temporary workers" if these workers choose to stay when their permit expires?