View From Lodi, CA: Beware The Looming Bush "Guest-Worker" Haymaker
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The good news is that Congress is in recess.

The bad news is that it gave Americans such a thorough street mugging during its last week in session that the country will be reeling for months.

But is the worst—President George W. Bush's amnesty/guest worker program—yet to come?

When Congress reconvenes in September, Bush wants "action" on immigration. As we all saw last week, what Bush wants, Bush gets.

He isn't timid about how he gets it either.

Bush muscled doubters and broke rules to get his way on an energy bill, a highway bill and the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe, (R-Arizona) summarized it this way, "Twist some Republican arms until they break in a thousand pieces."

Knuckling under to Bush, lawmakers approved a massive highway bill as well as an equally eye-popping energy bill that outrageously included tax breaks for the filthy rich oil companies.

The highway bill includes more than 6,300 projects worth in excess of $283 billion. [Bush Draws Heat from Conservatives on Highway Bill, By Caren Bohan, Washington Post, July 30, 2005]

And an $80 billion energy bill will create $15 billion in subsidies for oil, gas and energy companies even though those industries are racking up record profits.

Criticizing the energy bill as one that will not lower gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil but one that will buy votes, Jill Lancelot, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense said:

"This is the lobbyist backyard barbecue bill, because every energy interest is going home with its pockets stuffed with pork, while taxpayers get roasted."

Bush traded $50 billion in pork-laden favors in the energy and transportation bills to guarantee passage of another bill he has been lusting after, the DR-CAFTA.

A new trade agreement, yet another thing Americans didn't want, will mean more lost jobs for U.S. workers. We know we can kiss the jobs good-bye because we've seen the sad consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Regarding DR-CAFTA, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) predicted, accurately, "This will be a vote in the middle of the night. They'll keep the vote open for several hours, in violation of the rules. If it passes, it will be by fewer than five votes." [CAFTA's Upshot More Political Than Economic, Paul Blustein and Mike Allen, Washington Post, July 27, 2005].

After the official 15-minute time period for voting had expired, DR-CAFTA was dead 180-175. But Congressional leaders left the voting open (a violation of House rules) until the final vote had turned in CAFTA's favor, 217-215.

(Note: I spoke with a representative in Congressman Richard Pombo's office who told me that Pombo had "serious reservations" about CAFTA. But in the end Pombo, like every other California Republican, voted yes.)

Now Bush is preparing to throw his immigration haymaker.

For nearly five years, Bush has been encouraging the Legislative branch to create a guest- worker program that provides amnesty to illegal immigrants already in the country. [Congressmen Urge Bush to Drop Guest-Worker Plan, Jerry Seper, Washington Times, November 17, 2004]

In preparation for September's hard sell the White House has put together a so-called coalition of business leaders and immigration advocates absurdly and incorrectly named Americans for Border and Economic Security.

Admission to the new group will cost between $50,000 and $250,000 with the dues used to fund an all-out campaign to promote cheap labor. [Immigration Rising on Bush's To-Do List, Peter Wallsten and Nicole Gaouette, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2005]

Right now, two competing immigration bills have been introduced in the Senate. Summarized briefly, they are:

  • The Cornyn-Kyl bill that Bush seems to favor would give temporary legal status for five years to illegal aliens, their spouses and children. Then, supposedly, they would have to return home. The bill also creates a guest worker program, but promises to create a tamper-proof social security care, reinforce the border and conduct vigorous workplace site checks to fine employers who hire illegal immigrants. (Read Juan Mann's analysis here: The Cornyn-Kyl Bill (S. 1438)—The Same Old Arizona Amnesty Sham!)

The unasked questions are more compelling than analyzing the legislation's fine print.

  • How will the programs be implemented?

Contemplating the Cornyn-Kyl bill, Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said:

"When it comes to immigration policy, the promises made to the immigrants invariably get kept, but the commitment to the American public to protect our borders, security, and jobs too often fall by the wayside."

As Stein implies, the promises made by Cornyn and Kyl have been made and broken before. Remember too that only an infinitesimal percentage of illegal immigrants ever return home.

Realists expect that more illegal immigration is the only thing likely to come out of any new guest worker program.

If Congress were serious about controlling immigration, it would enforce our existing laws.



On July 26, Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, attended a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding immigration.

Although Roy is widely acknowledged even by foes of immigration reduction as a fair and compassionate spokesman, he was not invited to address the panel.

In fact, no one with immigration reduction views was offered the floor.

Those who did speak were Tamar Jacoby (no introduction needed); former U.S. Congressman Hal Daub on behalf of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, (proponents of cheap labor); and Texas immigration lawyer Gary Endelman.

Here from his action alert is Roy's account of the hearing:

"The committee lined up a series of witnesses all of whom testified in FAVOR of rewarding illegal aliens in one way or another. The hearing didn't include a single witness who represents the majority American view.

"Everything about yesterday's hearing was based on the falsehood that America has a giant labor shortage and that our economy will sink if we don't bring in massive new flows of foreign workers.

"I know, that sounds preposterous in light of 14 million Americans who cannot find a full-time job. It also doesn't sound like your state, does it?

"Watching the Members talk and act yesterday almost made me sick to my stomach, thinking that these are the twisted, callous opinions through which we have to move anything good. On average, Senators are far more beholden to large business lobbies than are Members of the House. Thus, while we have been able to move the majority of the House to usually act in the interests of the American people on immigration, most Senators still act as if they've never heard from all of you."

With a September showdown looming, we have a better than even chance of success in the House.

In the meantime, let's not underestimate Bush. He is capable of pulling one more rabbit out of his hat.

But with so much open anger about illegal immigration, that would be quite a trick.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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