Uphill Immigration Talks Begin

By The News Mar 02, 2007

With most Democratic presidential candidates avoiding a hard stance on immigration like the plague, Congress faces some tough barriers to passing meaningful and fair immigration reform policy. These include, President Bush’s hard pushing for a guest worker program to have more immigrants gain temporary working visas. But the president has presented no case on how these workers will be treated any differently than they are today under current work programs. On Wednesday, the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee met for its first immigration reform meeting this year, the New York Times reported on the brutal guest workers programs. The paper revealed something activists and humanitarians have known for years–that hundreds of thousands of guest workers fall into a rigid cycle of exploitation and fear of deportation which forces them to work for abysmal wages. The NYTimes reports:

Each year 120,000 foreign workers receive visas to do farm work or other low-skilled labor, usually for three to nine months. These programs grew out of the World War II bracero program, in which hundreds of thousands of Mexicans worked on farms and railroads, often in deplorable conditions. Labor experts say employers abuse guest workers far more than other workers because employers know they can ship them home the moment they complain. They also know these workers cannot seek other jobs if they are unhappy.

The Drum Major Institute released a special report today laying out a progressive plan for immigration reform and a critique of the immigration system. If Congress is serious about its next steps, this report should be required reading. The report, "Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class: 2007 Edition," explains why everyone needs to get smart on immigration and the middle class.