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      California's most immigrant dependent industries, agriculture and Silicon Valley, are pushing narrow measures through Congress in an effort to employ foreign workers at opposite ends of the labor market, people who pick vegetables and the post graduate engineers and scientists of Silicon Valley.  Senator Dianne Feinstein attached a farm guest worker program to the giant Iraq spending bill Thursday in a last ditch effort to remedy a shortage of workers in California's produce fields as the Federal Government continues to crack down on illegal immigration and the political climate proves hostile to more sweeping measures.  Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, teaming with Republicans, is pushing several bills to give permanent residence to top engineering talent.

The move marks an end for now to efforts to give farm workers a path to citizenship after a sweeping immigration bill failed in the Senate last June.  

   Lofgren has dropped efforts for now to expand a controversial H-1B program for temporary high skilled workers which again this year ran out of its 85,000 visas on the first day they were released.    

Originally posted to ECW on Sat May 17, 2008 at 06:37 PM PDT.


Do you think the new president should pledge to help pass comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration in congress the first100 days in office?

68%24 votes
31%11 votes

| 35 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think you need a few more options (6+ / 0-)

    in your poll.

    It's simply not that simple.

  •  It's a false choice (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that falls into the reactionary frame. That's how they put it.

    Their frame is, we have 15,000,00 people in the United States illegally, what do we do about it? Thus the choice your poll offers--albeit in an exaggerated form.

    Now, since their frame is myopically driven by Mexican migration, let's reframe it according to that one view of the population of undocumented immigrants:

    We have a relatively affluent country with a relatively stable political system and robust body of laws bordering a relatively impoverished country with immature democratic institutions and a deeply corrupt legal system. Since the greatest force in human history is migration, it is inevitable that many people will be pulled by the promise of greater opportunity and security. No system of control--short of a quasi-police state will stop this human desire. So, what do we do about it?

    Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears' poncho? - Frank Zappa

    by JoesGarage on Sat May 17, 2008 at 06:58:34 PM PDT

    •  Liberalize legal immigration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      make it easier to move here legally, enforce the border and employment sanctions to make sure that those immigrants are part of our society and not an underclass.

      Once the illegal flow is stopped, revisit the status of people currently here illegally but otherwise valuable members of our society.

  •  No (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IhateBush, Subversive

    They shouldn't vote for this. I don't want some Indian taking an IT job from a well-qualified American at half the salary.

    •  This is my main objection (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      well-qualified American at half the salary.

      It is a pro-corporate anti-job piece of legislation.

      The Clintons are corrupt selfish race baiting zero character scumbags. I'd rather be run over by a tractor-trailer than willfully vote for any Clinton again.

      by IhateBush on Sat May 17, 2008 at 07:23:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This Is About Providing a Benefit to Employers (6+ / 0-)

    If we were serious about the rights of immigrant agricultural workers, we would attach something to these bills that makes sure that they are paid a living wage and are sheltered from the kind of abuses that they have historically endured.

    House and Senate Democrats seem more interested in protecting businesses that want to hire foreign workers ... than they seem interested in protecting those workers from exploitation and abuse, or protecting citizen and resident workers from unfair labor competition,

    •  Thos provisions are attached (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bink, carolita, Gabriel Jack

      to the bills.  They require paying "prevailing wage" which is determined by the Department of Labor and is often based on union wages, but certainly a living wage.  
      By doing nothing, we are making a bad situation worse-the people being arrested in the current round of raids will, in many cases, be unable to qualify when there is comprehensive immigration reform, but they are not going to leave their US citizen children here.
      As for the H-1B program, there is and always has been a prevailing wage requirement for that and the employer submits documentation that they are paying the prevailing wage. The penalties for failing to pay that wage are significant.
      What benefits bad employers is doing nothing.  

      Hillary Clinton, running for President of the Relevant States of America!

      by MufsMom on Sat May 17, 2008 at 07:10:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  this is the key,... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        there is no denying that we face a problem wrt immigration on two fronts:  (1) we have a serious labor shortage in several industries and (2) we have an unregulated immigration system due to people illegally entering the country to take low-skilled jobs.

        a Prevailing wage is key.  the only legitimate argument that the right wingers potentially have is that the unregulated flow of immigrant labor brings down the wages of native Americans.  Just about every other argument I have heard is baseless and zenophobic.  

        The solution is a prevailing wage requirement accross the board, professionals and low-skill workers.  You penalize the employer and the employee for working and /or employing someone at below the prevailing wage.  those workers who come here from Mexico and Central America and want to make an honest living for their families, put them in line for a green card.  if they violate the wage requirements, refuse them the Green card and have them removed.  I am an immigration attorney, and I have seen it work effectively with the H-1B program.    There is no reason why it couldn't work with low-skill workers as well.  it would have the effect of self-regulating the immigration system- no need for walls, fences, and whatever else.  

        •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

          One of the biggest problems is that there is no provision for legal visas for low-skill workers, even though it is well-known that many of the jobs fall into that category. And resistance on the part of many employers to paying a prevailing wage is a large part of the reason for that.

          Look at the situation with the tomato pickers in Florida, which was called agricultural slavery in congressional hearings in April.

          My favorite quote from this article from Common Dreams is:

          Burger King will not pay the extra penny a pound that the tomato-pickers are demanding he said. ‘If we agreed to the penny per pound, Burger King would pay about $250,000 annually, or $100 per worker. How does that solve exploitation and poverty?’ he asked.

          Amazing, isn’t it? You’d think for $250,000 a year, BK would just pony up the penny and avoid the negative press, but it’s not about the money, it’s about the control of workers. BK has made it clear that they will not be told how much to pay by a bunch of workers. They call the shots. And their lobbyists write (or influence) the immigration laws.

          "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

          by carolita on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:00:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            My cousin is very involved in the Iron Worker's Union and he said he could not understand why the employers were fighting earned residency so hard.  I told him the employers don't want this because not only will there be a prevailing wage required, but many of the workers either already are in unions or will join unions and there will be a tremendous resurgence in the union movement.  

            The meat processing plant in Iowa raided last Monday was under investigation for labor violations and the union was trying to organize the workers.  The raid ended that.  Convenient.

            Hillary Clinton, running for President of the Relevant States of America!

            by MufsMom on Sun May 18, 2008 at 05:56:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  if Obama truely represents the people's interest (0+ / 0-)

      he will frame his immigration plan around a prevailing wage system whereby employers will be expected to pay a prevailing wage, and employees will be required to earn one.  he will simultaneously provide a more reasonable path to permanent residence for the workers themselves.  this is a fair and balanced way of going forward that i will applaud if he decides to pursue it. if he just provides amnesty, i will say he is just another poltiician who is working in the interest of the corporations and pandering to short-sighted liberal thinking elites and hispanic voters.  if he just builds walls, I will say that he is afraid to engage himself on the issue, and i will be equally disappointed

  •  Wrong Headline (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Immigrants are people who come here intending to stay; people on H-1B visas are temporary workers who can't stay. They're not immigrants.

    •  you're slightly mistaken (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davybaby, Duke1676, carolita

      H-1b workers are entitled to immigrate if they wish.  While you are correct in saying that an H-1B is a temporary work visa, most, if not all, H-1b workers that I have ever come accross have filed a parallel petition for Permanent residence while they are here in H-1B status.  

  •  I think we should fine companies into dust (0+ / 0-)

    ...whenever they make use of Black Market labor.  We can put end to all of the illegal labor without demonizing those unfortunates here illegally.  If there are better economic opportunities somewhere else, they will leave on their own.

    Vote John Edwards and break the corporate media stranglehold on American politics.

    by Subversive on Sat May 17, 2008 at 08:06:34 PM PDT

    •  problem is that many businesses have no choice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but to hire illegal labor.  most of the businesses are small businesses who hire dishwashers, planters, construction workers, etc.  the vast majority of the employers want to get legal status for their employees, but they cannot.  the immigration system does not afford them any sort of opportunity at doing so, even if they wanted to.  while i realize there are big employers who take advantage of this black market of cheap labor, i don't think it is constructive to necessarily demonize all of them, either, because the majority of them are small businesses who legitimately cannot find american workers to fill the jobs.

      •  dishwashers, planters, construction workers, etc. (0+ / 0-)

        You are mistaken if you don't think there are Americans willing to do those jobs.  Even though I work in tech support for advanced storage technologies now, I have worked as a dishwasher, a potwasher, a choker setter, a pear picker, and hunched all the way over in the hot sun all day pulling bits of garbage out of the mud after Woodstock '97.

        Vote John Edwards and break the corporate media stranglehold on American politics.

        by Subversive on Wed May 21, 2008 at 07:34:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And is it fair to fine them into dust (0+ / 0-)

      when the person they hired, passed all the document checks?

      How far are employers required to go? How far should they be required to go?

      •  not sure if I understand your question (0+ / 0-)

        but the way the employer gets popped is when the employee applies for his green card.  if his tax returns show that he earned less than the prevailing wage when he goes for his green card, then the employer gets fined and the employee fails to get his green card.  i think it put the onus on the employee to not accept a job that pays less than the prevailing wage.  living in this country illegally is hell.  most illegal immigrants want nothing more than to become legal residents.  if they are given the opportunity to do so, they will comply with the requirements in order to.

        •  The comment said (0+ / 0-)

          whenever they make use of Black Market labor

          I think it's fair to say he is referring to illegal immigrants.

          Employers are required to get and verify employability (ie SS#). If they don't do that, fine the shit out of them.

          If they do it though, and the person turns out to be illegal, you wanna fine the shit out of them?

          That's my question. It's not about wages, because that wasn't the comment.

          •  the problem is that (0+ / 0-)

            there are literally millions of undocumented people working "under the table" and with non-matching social security numbers.  to expect the immigration service to even come close to weeding out all of these employers and fining them would probably end up costing infinitely more money than it would benefit us financially.  it's just unrealistic.  that is why you put the onus on the workers themselves.  if they want to get green cards, they will be sure not to accept employment at below the prevailing wage.  it will be a self-regulated system by incentivizing it.  that is not to say give up on fining the employers, as well, but I think putting the onus on the employee will serve to enforce the prevailing wage laws far more effectively.

          •  My employer required me (0+ / 0-)

   show SSN plus birth certificate, and presumably there was a verification process which took place behind the scenes.  I don't think that is unreasonable.

            How do we treat bars with a pattern of accepting fake IDs from underaged drinkers?

            Vote John Edwards and break the corporate media stranglehold on American politics.

            by Subversive on Wed May 21, 2008 at 07:27:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  most illegal immigrants want nothing more (0+ / 0-)

          most illegal immigrants want nothing more than to become legal residents

          That is very easy to imagine.  Certainly most "illegal immigrants" have zero interest in becoming American citizens.  But what person operating outside of the law would not prefer to get the law off their back if that was their choice?  Whether they choose to meet and maintain the requirements for that to happen are ultimately going to depend upon the nature of the requirements however.

          Vote John Edwards and break the corporate media stranglehold on American politics.

          by Subversive on Wed May 21, 2008 at 08:31:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  At the same time, I don't have much of a problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gabriel Jack

    ...with temporary guest worker problems for agricultural field laborers, so long as they are reasonably regulated.

    Vote John Edwards and break the corporate media stranglehold on American politics.

    by Subversive on Sat May 17, 2008 at 08:09:31 PM PDT

    •  that's what this is all about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      regulating the flow of immigrants coming into the country.  our problem iss that we have two extreme sides on the issue-The liberals who want to hand out passports to anyone who wants one and the conservatives who want to put them all on one boat and send them back.  the frustration to me is that there is an easy solution that neither side wants to acknowledge- for, it seems to me, political purposes.

      •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gabriel Jack

        Immigration is a social and economic issue, but by making it a political football, the powers that be virtually guarantee it won't be resolved. And that ensures they will have a steady supply of below-market labor to mow their laws and diaper their kids. Any time one side of the debate proposes solutions (like the wall) that are so clearly unrealistic, it is a pretty good sign there is no good faith on their side. They just need a distraction so they don't have to talk about the real issues, and fear is their first weapon of choice.

        The real immigration problem is the current laws, which are a patchwork of regulations that don't begin to address the real needs of the United States for workers at different skill levels. I guess that is to be expected when lobbyists write laws, but it doesn't help American businesses and it certainly doesn't help immigrants or undocumented workers.

        "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

        by carolita on Sat May 17, 2008 at 08:44:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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