Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Why Guest Worker Visas are Unethical

President Bush has been gearing up for the campaign to create a guest worker visa. For those of you who aren't aware, this is entirely different from a green card or citizenship. The idea is that the visa would have a number of months for which it is valid (open to extension of course), and at the end of that period the "guest worker" goes back to his/her country of origin. This program is a clear response to population pressure from Latin America. Everyone is aware of the huge numbers of illegal immigrants that come to work in the U.S. every year, and any reasonable person is aware of the huge amounts of manpower wasted on trying to prevent it, manpower better devoted to stopping terrorists and drug trafficking. The administration seeks to relieve that pressure through means of the guest worker visa. Here's the catch: Guest worker visas are an old European scheme to allow cheap labor to flow in while still preventing it from integrating culturally and economically into the society. And the real kicker is that you can simply stop visa extensions when you need to pull an Ebeneezer Scrooge and "decrease the surplus population." Problem: Preventing integration with the society creates a socio-economic underclass (usually hostile to their hosts), deports GDP by means of remittances (cash immigrants send home), and (by means of the slums that these immigrants live in) creates areas prone to crime. The other nasty problem is that you can't deport this problem any more effectively than you can stop illegal immigrants from entering the country. In fact, it's harder because they're already here, living in urban slums with offline economies and surrounded by people in a similar plight. The trend in these cases has never been for families and friends to reunite back in their country of origin, but to reunite in the host nation. The creation of a disenfranchised sub-citizenry might relieve population pressure to some extent, but in the end it will only import a new set of problems. Given the choice between waging a futile border war now, a futile internal war later, or allowing working men and women living in America to be part of our multi-cultural fabric I choose the latter option.

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