Guest Worker Status for Illegal Immigrants in the U.S.

I heard that President Bush’s proposal that guest worker status be offered to laborers now in the U.S. illegally has been removed from an immigration reform bill now in the House of Representatives.  I hope it isn’t true.  The main argument against it thus far is that it rewards those who are already here illegally.  Opponents say they should be forced to return to their country of origin (that being Mexico in most cases) to register there.  That line of reasoning makes no sense to me.

How does it reward those already here any more than it aids those who want to come tomorrow?  Is it that justice hasn’t been served unless the illegals are punished?  Forget about it.  Get over it!  Have you seen Les Miserables?  Their “crime” is so minor, given the circumstances, as to be unworthy of punishment, like stealing a loaf of bread to feed their children.  No, it’s like they have worked, without legal permission, to make that loaf of bread.  There are nearly 10 million illegal workers in the country, working at jobs that “fit” in our economy.  Their children are in school.  Their salaries (what they don’t send home) are spent on food, rent, and clothing locally.

Illegal immigrants aren’t some cancer that must be excised in a radical Mexi-ectomy.  They are the result of an unnecessarily restrictive and porous set of laws and an equally porous border (between a large, rich economy and a weak, struggling economy).  Do I condone what they have done?  No.  It is illegal–against the law–wrong.  But I also think that allowing them to gain guest worker status, and registering themselves in the process so that the government can know who they are and where they live–for legitimate reasons of national security reasons–sets things right.

I welcome your views.  Y leo bien en español.

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