The following is a quote from "A progressive plan for immigration reform" -- a diary from duke1676. A larger excerpt and discussion appears in the body of this diary.
With these two basic premises accepted, it becomes clear what the goal of progressive immigration reform should be: Allow for a reasonable flow of new immigrants and figure out a way to allow them to enter the country legally.While I absolutely agree with the concluding statement, I do not agree with the premises. The details lurk in the body of this diary and the poll.
Full excerpt from "A progressive plan for immigration reform" -- a diary from duke1676
Two facts must be taken as givens in any discussion of immigration reform if we are to make any real progress towards meaningful reform:While we are running short of clean air, clean water, open spaces and old growth timber we have more people than we know what to do with. The earth's population problem and the growing population problem in the USA is not to be just totally ignored, nor is the supply and demand for cheap labor a good barometer for the control of immigration policy. And I readily admit to being selfish, self centered, and egotistical, i.e. I admit to being a human. This tendency toward self preservation and aggrandizement does not, however, totally preclude a desire for fairness. And while I most certainly did not vote for NAFTA (I voted for Perot in 92), I did not take up arms and rebel against the authorities. Therefore, I am saddled with some of the blame I suppose.
* 1. We need immigration. Currently there are an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the US of which 7.5 million are in the workforce, with approximately half a million more joining them each year. Additionally, we allow for roughly a million "legal" immigrants to enter each year. 98% of all undocumented immigrants eligible to work (excluding children and stay-at-home mothers of young children), do so, and the US unemployment rate floats around 5% or roughly 7 million people. We need these workers, it's just a fact
* 2. Undocumented immigrants do keep wages artificially low in a few select industries that rely on them for the bulk of their workforce. Employers in these sectors, able to pay immigrant workers less, cannot be expected to do anything but take advantage of the situation. The solution to this problem is not to eliminate the immigrant workforce in order to force wages up due to a lack of needed workers. The solution is to put these workers on a path to legalization in order that employers can no longer exploit them. Numerous studies show that once an immigrant attains legal status his wages and benefits go up and his employer begins adhere to federal and state workplace regulations. It's a self policing system.
With these two basic premises accepted, it becomes clear what the goal of progressive immigration reform should be: Allow for a reasonable flow of new immigrants and figure out a way to allow them to enter the country legally.
The devil is in the detail and the words "reasonable flow" leave much to be desired. In fairness the quoted article suggests some sort of "Federal Reserve"ish (meaning isolated from direct politics) board of "know it all"s to actually determine the meaning of those words. This is a salute, and not a dig. Such an issue cannot be addressed by a fixed immutable law. We observe, however, that the House of Representatives sees major difficulty in increasing H1B visas because they will be hard pressed to defend such a move. The Senate, however, is always attempting to further the cause of the Chamber of Commerce because only with that kind of campaign funding will you survive as a Senator. The majority of the citizenry are aware at this point that the H1B visa system is merely a way to line the pockets of the owners of the means of production and not a system in the best interest of Americans as a whole or the holders of the visas. So it should have to be "Lets make a deal".
The contest then between the greedy owners of the means of production and the greedy American (and green card) suppliers of labor (me) should actually be an ongoing political battle. It should not be resolved by the labor unions or the "know it all" club. And if our House of Representatives is not adequately representing the common people then we need to get it fixed. And you needn't worry. The Senate will forever protect the "owners".
Our elected politicians have a lot of work to do in brainwashing us into believing that more immigration is a good thing for the American workers. They will find that creating and maintaining mechanisms that "spread the cost/pain" more effectively between the "owner/investment class" and the "producer class" will be a much easier row to hoe. Most certainly "Guest Workers" (who are indentured servants to the owners) are not the answer to anything. And I maintain that the current version of labor unions nor special isolated contrivances (like the what most believe the Federal Reserve to be) are a good path to follow.
To sum up: The transformation of current "illegal" or "undocumented" workers into "legal documented" workers is probably an integral part of comprehensive immigration reform. But let's not just legalize the flow of indentured servants or create institutions rife with corruption and power mongering. There is no way in hell you can convince me that a larger pool of labor is better for the providers of labor (that law of supply and demand is not going to disappear in a puff of compassion). But you can convince me that the pain won't be too bad, that it will be shared with the owners, and that I am part of the problem because I have failed in my responsibility to understand the full effects of NAFTA and to prevent the dissemination of unchallenged lies, distortions, and half truths.