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The Bush Immigration Policy
By Alex Pierson

In January of 2004, President Bush outlined his Administration's new immigration plan. The plan calls for a "fair and secure immigration reform" that will create work visas for illegal immigrants that already live in the United States and for future immigrants, matching "willing workers with willing employers". The temporary work visa would be valid for three years, offering some immigrant workers an (undetermined) extension to the visa after they pay a one time fee to enroll in the program. As part of the program, all employers would have to make every effort to hire an American worker for the position before resorting to hiring an illegal immigrant. The visa would give the worker the ability to go to and from their country of origin without difficulty. Any illegal immigrant who participates in the program will not receive any advantage in the naturalization process over anyone else desiring to be an American citizen. Lastly, the program calls for "Economic incentives to return home." Under this heading however, the plan simply states that illegal immigrants involved in the program would be required by law to return to their country of origin after their time is up and will not be financially rewarded to do so. This program will not help immigration reform, the situation for the estimated 7-8 million illegal immigrants already in the country, or the plight of American workers in the United States. In fact, this plan will place an increased burden on key industries such as farming and restaurants, increase the fear of deportation amongst illegal immigrants, and create a more regulated policy that will increase government spending in a futile effort to prevent the employment of illegal immigrants.

Employers will now have the financial burden of making an effort to hire American workers for jobs that no American wants, primarily in the farming industry in California, the predominant employer of illegal immigrants in the country. Furthermore, these employers would have a lag period from when their illegal workers would have to stop working, wait for the employer to seek out American workers, before being able to re-hire the illegal immigrants through the temporary worker program, assuming they have enough money to pay the one-time fee. Additionally, these employers will be forced to offer the illegal immigrant higher wages and appropriate benefits that will undoubtedly improve their lives financially, but at the expense of the farm's profitability, which would in turn cause the farms to hire less people, leaving an increased amount of illegal immigrants disenfranchised and unemployed in America.

A second issue with the proposed temporary work visa program is that it will likely woo few illegal immigrants to sign up for fear of deportation. Illegal immigrants, who are already working in this country and making a far better living than they would in their country of origin, even if it is below minimum wage, have the chance to offer their children the opportunities that exist in America. These illegal immigrants, many of whom have lived in the United States for many years, have no incentive to sign up to a program that would force their deportation in three years and place them in a governmental system where they and their family could be tracked in the future. Furthermore, the economic effects of shortening supply due to higher age costs could leave many illegal immigrants with a greater possibility of not having a job after they sign up for the program, creating a situation where they would face deportation even sooner than the three years. This problem would be further exasperated if the government does not follow through with their claims of greater regulations upon the employers who wish to hire illegal immigrants that are not part of the temporary worker program.

In order to enforce this program, that does not make social or economic sense, the government will have to spend billions more dollars to register, monitor, and eventually deport those illegal immigrants that sign up for the visa program. It will also spend more money trying to enforce the employment laws with the major industries that will be employing these workers. Lastly, the program will also spend tax dollars in seeking and deporting the millions of illegal immigrants that do not sign up for the temporary work visa, as political pressure will increase to extradite the immigrant workers who do not become part of the program.

A better option in dealing with the millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the United States can be seen in the policy of John Kerry, who hopes to offer a plan that will set the millions of illegal immigrants in the country on a path to legalization, while focusing efforts to secure our national border and aid economic growth in Mexico in an effort to minimize the economic incentive of illegally coming to America. This plan, an economically viable and socially conscience course of action, would provide America with a superior immigration reform that would benefit both Americans and illegal immigrants.


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