Guest Worker Program Still a Sticking Point on Immigration Reform

After the much anticipated immigration meeting, the President reiterated his commitment to reform our broken immigration system. The administration only committed to start the debate this year; hoping that a bill is passed in 2010 before the midterm elections. According to Emanuel, immigration reform lacks the votes to pass this congressional session.

Congressional leaders present at the meeting and advocates feel enthusiastic about the outcome of this meeting. But the tension over a guest worker program is clear. After the meeting, Senator McCain said to reporters:

I can't support any proposal that doesn't have a legal temporary worker program and I would expect the president of the United States to put his influence on the unions in order to change their position. Without a commitment to a legal temporary worker program for our high-tech community and agriculture sector, there is no such thing as comprehensive immigration reform.

As I have said before, guest worker programs institutionalize a second-class labor market in which temporary workers are exploited and cannot look for other jobs. They are basically bound to unscrupulous employers. Guest workers' vulnerability in the workplace weakens conditions and lowers wages for all workers.

Any kind of guest worker program will hurt foreign and native-born workers.


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