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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

How Many Will Die if the AFL-CIO Can Scrap the Guest Worker Program?

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Earlier today, Ana Avendaño of the AFL-CIO said a guest worker program wasn't an important part of immigration reform. And as I've pointed out in several posts in recent days, the AFL-CIO has been doing everything it can to ensure a guest worker program is as small as possible and so difficult to use that it wil largely be non-existent.


But maybe she should remember the more than 5,500 people who have died crossing the border over the last fifteen years as enforcement has tightened. Just this past year, the death rate accelerated by 27%. So many people are dying because we don't have a guest worker program and people take their chances out of sheer desperation to work. The AFL-CIO talks about preventing workers from being exploited, but not having a legal way for companies to hire workers is a far worse alternative.


The recent National Foundation for American Policy report on this subject says it all:



In 2007, Congress debated and failed to pass an immigration reform bill. "Poison pill" restrictions on a new temporary visa program favored by businesses have been cited as a key reason for the bill's failure. Since the failure of Congress to pass immigration reform legislation in 2007, more than 2,000 people have died near theSouthwest border. If another 5 years goes by without Congress approving new legal temporary visas for workersit is predictable that an additional 2,000 people will die simply because they wanted to work in America.



I'll say it again. The AFL-CIO is supporting legalizing workers already here because they know that train has left the station and they don't want to be perceived as being anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant. They know they will continue their downward membership spiral unless they appeal to the millions who will be legalized. But they also are kowtowing to their existing member unions who want to keep out future immigrants by whatever means possible. And they're trying to deflect attention from this fact by saying that the Republicans and the Chamber are trying to kill a bill. But I'm a pretty loyal Democrat and can tell you this is baloney.If we don't get a guest worker program, it will be the AFL-CIO's fault and if we don't get a guest worker program immigration reform will fail. And the AFL-CIO will then spend its time and resources trying to convince everyone they had nothing to do with it.


The unions need to get on board in favor of a reasonable and generous work visa program so we can finally get control of our border, end the needless dying and make sure America's employers have the workers they need to keep this country moving.

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Comments

  1. Jack's Avatar
    Unlimited guest workers would arguably entice MORE dangerous border crossings due to family members coming to be with all these millions of new guest (*cough*) workers. You would have to let everybody in (unlimited immigration) and that is outdated and unsustainable for a country that consumes like the U.S. does. Instead of further depleting our resources and degrading our wildlife, it makes infinitely more sense to take the incentives away that attract people to cross the border.
    That way we can save lives while also saving our environment.
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    Yes Jack, the best way to do what you are saying is to go live in the caves..
  3. USC's Avatar
    "degrading our wildlife"

    So, you are opposed to the Border Fence?
  4. Sam's Avatar
    There is nothing wrong in Jack's views. US cannot allow immigrants based on number of immigrants wants to come. US can allow only when there is a real need. If there is a real need Companies can pay little bit more wages than US workers. That will not bring down wages of US workers at the same time we will get access to Foreign workers. Everyone aware of this.
  5. George Chell's Avatar
    There is everything wrong in Jack's views. Agreed, US cannot allow immigrants based on number of immigrants wants to come. But, the industry controls everything. If you are not aware of that you have been asleep for the past three decades. If there is a real need Companies will move jobs abroad pay much lower wages than US workers and unemploy the US workers. That will bring down wages of US workers in the long run and at the same time the coroporations will get access to really cheap Foreign workers. Perhaps that is what Sam and Jack want.
  6. Sid's Avatar
    The corporations that can offshore most of their jobs have already done that or are exploring ways of doing it. I don't think they've been waiting all these years for Obama to sign the CIR bill. There's no guarantee that they won't offshore jobs even if there is a huge expansion of the guest worker program for unskilled labor. Since CIR 2006, US businesses have been threatening to move jobs abroad if they don't get what they want. My question to them is - How have you been able to run your business for the last 6-7 years? 6-7 years is a fairly long time. It's not just a matter of scraping through for a few months or a year. The answer is fairly obvious. It is not easy to offshore certain jobs. It is easier to lie to the American public and create a guest worker program for unskilled workers to push down wages for those who haven't seen their real incomes go up in the last 30 years.
  7. Sam's Avatar
    Allowing guest workers will not reduce off shoring. The reason is companies think that they can save money by off shoring compared to even guest workers. The point is if minimum wage for American worker is 8 dollars and it is not bad to ask 9 or 10 dollars for foreign workers. If this is the case then companies will give first preference to American workers and there is no need for LCA and other complex procedures.
  8. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Sam, honey, LCA is not needed for workers who make $9/hour. Ever.
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    "Allowing guest workers will not reduce off shoring."

    Have you read any research?
  10. George Chell's Avatar
    "CIR 2006, US businesses have been threatening to move jobs abroad if they don't get what they want. My question to them is - How have you been able to run your business for the last 6-7 years?"

    Why do you think unemployment is not going down faster?
  11. George Chell's Avatar
    I will give the answer. Unemployment is not going down faster due to (1) offshoring and something else we dont talk much about outbound Foreign Direct Investment; and (2) technology. Why do you think Britain is in a rut? They have a double whammy which US does not have...(1) Large number of educated Brits running away from their country like scalded dogs or cats; and (2) Cannot replace the loss because only 1,000 skilled migrants are admitted every year from outside the EU and they are now talking about even restricting migrants from the EU. FDI from the UK is moving to the US..saved Obama's rear in Ohio last year. It is all relative. But, we continue to bleed jobs to Asia, Canada and Australia...that is the reality..and as long as that happens unemployment will not come down sharply.
  12. Average Joe's Avatar
    So, Grag, if someone dies trying to get into your house, because they tried to get in through the roof but fell on the ground, should we blame you for not leaving your door open?
  13. Sid's Avatar
    "Why do you think Britain is in a rut? "

    Very simple. The conservatives came to power and chose austerity over stimulus when the economy was very weak. They tried to do that in the US with limited success in derailing the economy because Obama has resisted cuts as much as possible.

    "Cannot replace the loss because only 1,000 skilled migrants are admitted every year from outside the EU"

    And what do you think my position is on skilled immigration? The wages for skilled workers are continuing to go up during the recovery (as has been the general trend during the last 30 years) which is consistent with a shortage. Based on that, I continue to support more skilled immigration.

    "Why do you think unemployment is not going down faster?"

    The biggest driver of growth during the last economic expansion was housing and after the biggest housing bubble in the last 100 years burst, it was obviously going to take some time to sort through the mess. Housing has just started to recover so we should see demand for construction workers go up soon.

    The other reason is that companies have squeezed out more productivity from existing workers and by automating more tasks using technology.

    "Have you read any research?"

    Not papers but articles based on these papers. Most unbiased research seems to agree that companies will continue to offshore as long as the wage gap is so huge and it is possible. I have not come across any credible research that says that jobs in areas like plumbing, construction, retail, restaurants, etc. will be offshored if we don't allow more unskilled workers in.
  14. Greg's Avatar
    Average Joe - Re-read Les Miserables. Jean Valjean served 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's baby. If someone broke in to my house because they were starving and took food from my refrigerator, I'd have a hard time pushing for the death penalty (as you seem to feel would be appropriate).
  15. Greg's Avatar
    And lest you think I'm being far-fetched, most Americans' family members came to this country to escape poverty. We had a system up until the 1920s where 98% of applicants were admitted without any kind of advance application. Using your logic, most of them should never have been allowed to enter. I'm talking about creating a legal system for them to come that would be considerably more vigorous than anything our ancestors had to go through. But that's not going to be good enough for people who just don't like immigrants.
  16. Marcela's Avatar
    They need to make changes so that there is guest worker program. The immigration steps needs to be a possible process not an impossible process. Otherwise those entering the country illegally will continue to rise as will the death rate. If the death rate is that high, there is obviously a problem that needs to be addressed. I think that's why it is important that lawyers should be involved in immigration reform. They have seen the effects it can have on families being torn apart.
  17. Jack's Avatar
    The population is 3x higher now than 1920. Triple it again and you're pushing a billion.
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