Bush immigration plan provides no incentives
President Bush has called for granting temporary legal status to illegal immigrants working in the United States.
PRESIDENT Bush's new version of immigration reform lacks incentives for illegal immigrants to emerge from the shadows or for businesses to use government tools for assurance of a legal workforce. The only incentive built into his proposal is for politicians from both parties eager to please Hispanics, who now comprise the nation's largest minority.
The president's proposal would allow the 11 million undocumented workers in the United States to be certified as "guest workers" for a certain period of time -- probably three years -- after paying a penalty and then be forced to return to their home countries. It would not create an avenue toward citizenship for illegals.
The proposal is similar to the failed Bracero Program of 1942-1964, allowing seasonal farm workers from Mexico to work in the United States. Those 4 million guest workers were exploited by employers and most remained in the United States because of even worse conditions in their homeland.
Bush's plan would allow the current exploitation of Mexican workers to continue. Many businesses are turning a blind eye to undocumented workers to cut costs rather than hiring legal immigrants and U.S. citizens.
Since 1997, employers in six states have engaged in a voluntary program to access computer software in the Immigration and Naturalization Service and Social Security Administration to verify their employees' legality. The project was expanded nationwide a year ago but remains voluntary.
Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., who introduced the bill creating the program, now proposes that employers be required to use it. Calvert's bill would phase in mandatory usage over a seven-year period.
A spokesman for House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., says the immigration reform bill emerging from his committee could contain Calvert's proposal. Only then would the various aspects of Bush's plan be effective.
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