Monday, June 05, 2006

Open the Front Door

In today's New York Times op ed, John Tierney returns once again to the immigration issue, recalling lessons learned 50 years ago--"the last time anyone could seriously claim the border was under control."

What prevented illegal farm workers from entering the country then? Get-tough measures, sure. But, Tierney explains,
"[a]long with the crackdown, officials encouraged farmers and ranchers to legally hire Mexican temporary workers called braceros. As new rules made it easier to hire braceros, the number of these legal workers doubled to more than 400,000 at the same time illegal immigration was plummeting."
This system kept illegal immigration under control until--you guessed it--Congress started shutting the front door, once again forcing immigrants to try to slip in the back. Immigration has been out of control ever since.

My thoughts: Bush's guest worker program, which Tierney supports, is designed to benefit employers over immigrants. Better would be an immigration program allowing workers to choose between the guest worker option and a (longer road to) citizenship option.

Beyond that, the government should crack down--immediately and hard--on those knowingly employing (and exploiting) illegal workers for their own financial gain. If alien workers know that no one will hire them, there will be zero incentive to cross the border illegally.

NY Times subscribers can read Tierney's op ed "Securing the Border (Again)" -- HERE. (Non-subscribers can take advantage of the Times' 2-week free trial) ... OR ... "Securing the Border (Again)" reprint is available here.

Photo credit: John Tierney. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

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