Legal entry when available

Jennifer Rubin at WaPo’s Right Turn has an incredible idea to address the illegal immigration issue:  let more people in – as legal guest workers.

What a concept!  There is no reason we can’t address our immigration problems within the existing framework of immigration law – if we need more computer programmers or lettuce pickers, increase those categories of work visas – while we secure the border.  She further argues that an expanded guest worker program helps secure the border:

The experience we have with guest worker programs comes from the 1950’s when the Bracero program permitted Mexican workers to enter, generally for farm work. Griswold explains, “Back then, as we could expect now, foreign-born workers rationally chose the legal path to entry when it was available. When the Bracero program was abolished in 1964, illegal immigration began an inexorable rise that continues to this day.” And the central flaw in the Bracero program — that it tied workers to a single employer, thus setting up opportunities for abuse — need not be repeated.

At the other end of the labor market, we need to seriously re-examine the number of H-1B visas to provide employers with high-skilled workers for jobs that native-born Americans are not able to fill.

She also makes one of my favorite points:  this issue doesn’t get fixed because it splits both parties.  The GOP’s business wing wants cheap labor even while others in the party can sound nativist; and for the Dems, unions and African Americans oppose the cheap labor while others in the party see a future voting bloc.

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