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I'm Confused...

The touchy subject that both lefties and right-wingers are afraid to talk about.
Let me get this straight. This new "Immigration Plan" would allow for some 9 million Mexican citizens who are already living and working in the U.S. to become legal "Guest Workers"? Why is it just for Mexicans? Why not Chinese, Canadian or citizens from any other country in the world who might like to work here? I'd like to know what's so special about being from Mexico? Once they become legal they still can't vote so that's not the issue, so tell me what's at the root of this?

The funniest part of all of this is the fact that once all of these 9 million people become legal then they are going to have to get paid minimum wage which in most cases will be double or triple what they are getting paid now. Needless to say, this can't possibly be in the best of interest of the businesses that employ them, as some people would assert. Never mind the fact that they will probably all go on strike and demand higher wages and better working conditions.

What's the overall result going to be if this plan becomes reality? Interestingly enough, once all these Mexicans become legitimate who's to say they will stick to the menial labor jobs like agriculture, landscaping and construction? What's stopping them from taking your job? Once this plan starts they will immediately begin to infiltrate into the rest of the unskilled labor force and cause your wage to drop drastically or eliminate you position permanently. I could easily envision Mexicans stocking shelves at Powell's, bussing tables at Jake's or doing any number of tasks that only require a strong back and a basic knowledge of the English language.

In addition, I'm sure for every person who is allowed to live and work here legally there will be an additional 2-5 illegal alien relatives who will come live here and further drain our welfare and healthcare system. All you need to collect foodstamps and social services is an Oregon drivers license which the DMV is more than happy to give you when you show them a bill addressed to you and a Mexican Consulate card. Another state tax increase will cover that problem, don't worry right?

Don't get me wrong, this isn't some racist tirade leveled against Mexicans. This isn't about Mexicans or any other nationality for that matter. Its all about fairness and this is the reality of the situation that most of you are afraid to discuss because you know that if you say anything negative about the "poor oppressed migrant worker" then you'll be labeled as a right-winger. But that's ok. Go ahead and stick you head in the sand like an ostrich and hope the problem will go away. Trouble is, by the time you pull your head out some Mexican citizen will be driving the forklift that you used to drive and all the crop workers and landscapers will be imported from China...
Blanco y Negro 15.Jan.2004 09:36

Yuri

Me thinks Bush proposed this knowing full well it will never pass in congress. But by seeming to want this legislation he wins favor with Latinos, who historically have overwhelmingly supported Demos in elections past, including Gore in the last "election".

Well... 15.Jan.2004 09:47

PDX'er

The second part of the plan is to send 9 million white guys like you to mexico to even things out. If you think about it we all are imports anyway. Remember native americans? Yep, that's right we stole their land, took their homes away from them, and even killed their families, so what are you complaining about?

since when is it your place to question 15.Jan.2004 10:26

shut up and get back to work

60 minutes on sunday had a piece on american companys contracting telemarketer jobs,u.s.tax return processing to india . india has university graduates ready to take our university grad. jobs ,so long as an american company ,corporation or government will contract to them .so having to pay a brown and his welfare sucking children minimum wage ,even though previosly making half that,instantly puts his pay check in competition with yours and whateveryour priviledged ass is making! yeah the u.s.corps,multi-nationals do think americans are priviledged. how else do you explain the killing of impoverished browns in the name of democracy and freedom, ours, yeah right! I am all for economic balancing ,doing with less or doing more with what we have,like appropriate technology. the problem is the corporate welfare sucking mother F%&%#!$!!!! while one could argue that the savings difference is helping the u.s. economy while giving jobs to the struggling brown guy, except the difference is going into the pockets of the rich and not either working classes standard of living fare wage. once again they have increased their profit thanks to computer technology while sending u.s. workers back to the minimum slave wage age. ya know ,maybe i should be a rapper ,if i get on m.t.v. i could get rich and not have to suffer with the rest of y'all!!!!

It's not that easy... 15.Jan.2004 10:49

PCUN

This proposal is a far cry from legalization and would be more likely to depress wages than raise them-- ie, employers who might otherwise pay $10-12 an hour will hire guest workers for $7.05. Also since legal status is tied to employment, if the workers try to organize or otherwise defend their rights, they can be fired and lose not only their job but also legal status. Finally, this proposal only provides for workers to hold temporary work visas for up to six years, then assumes that they will go back to Mexico, but does not give them a chance to get legal residency. Read on...

For immediate release
January 9, 2004
Contact: Ramon Ramirez, (503) 989-0073, PCUN and CAUSA

PCUN, CAUSA, OPPOSE BUSH IMMIGRATION REFORM,
CALL FOR COMPREHENSIVE REFORM,
PASSAGE OF AGJOBS AND DREAM ACT

PCUN, Oregon's farmworker union, and CAUSA, Oregon's immigrant rights coalition, join hundreds of immigrant rights organizations across the country in expressing our disappointment in and opposition to President Bush's immigration reform plan announced January 7th.

Rather than express active support of legislation such as AgJOBS and the DREAM Act, two pieces of legislation that support earned benefits and security safeguards for undocumented immigrants, President Bush failed to make any mention of this already-introduced legislation. He instead proposed the creation of a potentially huge new guest worker program that would essentially create a workforce with second-class status with no meaningful access to legal status or citizenship. The President also neglected to provide a timeline or plan as to when he hopes to draft legislation or introduce this plan to Congress.

The details of the proposal show the President's disregard for the principle of earning legal status through work that he had previously promoted. As proposed, his plan would allow an undocumented immigrant to apply for a temporary work permit through his or her employer, and to apply for legal status. However, even if the worker renewed the three-year temporary permit, his or her temporary worker status would likely expire before his or her application for legal status was approved, due to the current backlog in immigration cases and the limited number of "green" (residence) cards issued each year. The worker would then be forced to either leave the United States or return to being undocumented, thus making the option of applying for legal status meaningless. Although the President said he supported increasing the number of green cards issued per year, he did not mention any specific number.

This proposal is clearly beneficial to employers, who could hire temporary workers as long as there were no U.S. citizens interested in the job, while the immigrant worker would be in the position of working for three to six years and then facing deportation when his or her work permit expired. It is also highly reminiscent of the "bracero" program of the 1940's, which similarly sought to reward temporary workers for returning to their country of origin; the President's proposal suggests allowing undocumented workers to receive Social Security pensions from the money they paid into the system if they return to their country of origin.

It is obvious that this election year proposal has been timed to appeal to Latino voters, yet the Latino community has already had years of lip service from Bush, first when he was Governor in Texas, then in the Presidential campaign of 2000, for the past three years as President, and now at the opening of his re-election campaign. Rather than further political posturing, however, what we want is active support now for equitable immigration reform.

We deserve unambiguous action, yet this proposal leaves numerous ambiguities and doubts as to how it would be implemented and whom it would ultimately benefit. A truly comprehensive plan for immigration reform must provide a path to legalization and address the reality of the 8 to 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States today, many of whom are settled here and are not in a position to or do not desire to return to their countries of origin. The President's proposal is simply a glorified guest worker program; it does nothing to further our goals for immigration reform.

PCUN and CAUSA strongly support the DREAM Act and the AgJOBS bill, neither of which have been voted on in Congress as of yet. The DREAM Act would provide a path to legal residency and eventually citizenship for undocumented college students, while the AgJOBS bill would do so for an estimated 500,000 farmworkers. These two bills, both of which have strong bipartisan support, represented an excellent opportunity for the Bush administration to step in and support immigration reform by promoting their passage, yet the President instead took a hands-off approach, saying only that he would sign the bills if they reached his desk. In fact, his top aides are apparently now saying privately that Bush opposes AgJOBS and DREAM. If this is true, it's further underscores Bush's initiative as a political ploy.

PCUN and CAUSA have been involved on a national level promoting the passage of AgJOBS and DREAM, and in developing principles and goals for immigration reform. PCUN and CAUSA also participated in the organizing of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, and members of both organizations traveled across the country from Portland to Washington, DC, along with buses from eleven other cities, to promote immigration reform.

In the face of President Bush's insufficient, ineffective immigration reform proposal, we stand by the principles of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride and will use them to evaluate any and all immigration reform legislation that is proposed:

1. Reward work by granting legal status to hardworking, taxpaying, law-abiding immigrant workers already established in the United States;
2. Renew our democracy by clearing a path to citizenship and full political participation for our newest Americans;
3. Restore labor protections so that all workers, including immigrant workers, have the right to fair treatment on the job;
4. Reunite families in a timely fashion by streamlining our outdated immigration policies; and
5. Respect the civil rights and civil liberties of all so that immigrants are treated equally under the law, the federal government remains subject to checks and balances, and civil rights laws are meaningfully enforced.
####


Two Reasons at least 15.Jan.2004 13:01

Dude

Reason 1. Mexico has oil. Therefore it has leverage.

Reason 2. Mexicans are being displaced from thier land as multinationals price thier comodities below
fair value. ie no profit to pay taxes and mortgaes. Further mechanization of the farms if they are not already will drive off more of the population Off to the city - sounds framiliar.

reason 3. Hope springs eternal. Migrant worker thinking he/she would be getting a well deserved break latter to rounded up.

reason 4. Bush is a nice guy. lol

Hey Woodsman 16.Jan.2004 03:11

anonymous

I know you're not being racist here. Your post makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of people are questioning this, as you are. It is a tactic devised for short term political gains, not long term policy.

He doesn't expect his idea to pass Congress, but he will reap the benefits of the soundbite and video.

It gives a little something to everyone. Big business gets cheap labor. Mexican workers get the chance to work and stay in the US for awhile (and hope for more). Mexican-Americans feel he's not racist. Blur liberals think he cares about brown people... he gets some votes from more than just the rich, and stays in office.

If his bill passes, the consequences will fall into the lap of someone else. He won't have to deal with it at all.

If it doesn't pass, he gets votes from those who think he's a good guy.

But I think both thinking conservatives and liberals have a problem with this policy. He (or should was say Karl Rove) is counting on the majority of voters to not be thinking.

Let's call a duck a duck 16.Jan.2004 11:09

James

"Don't get me wrong, this isn't some racist tirade leveled against Mexicans"

Is it not? You could have fooled me. You can't write a racist tirade and expect others not to call you on it just because you offered an anmonition to the contrary.

I mean, it is racist. Whether you intended it to be or not. Whether you realize it or not. It simply is. Your entire post is a classic appeal to fear.

"Once this plan starts they will immediately begin to infiltrate into the rest of the unskilled labor force."

Typical appeal to fear language.

interesting 16.Jan.2004 12:52

mom

i find it interesting that people assume that all undocumented folks are farm workers --- the european/white ones can fade across the lines pretty easy--- and that people assume all latinos are "mexican".
there is a lot of racism going on here, but I think it stems from ignorance more than true hate of others.

James, speak up! 16.Jan.2004 13:29

This racism thing here

James, put away your knee-jerk reaction of calling everyone around you a racist who doesn't agree with you and please explain to us why Woodsman is a racist. Rather than just saying, "it's racist, it simply is...", could you follow that thought through for us?

It is not as simple as your mind allows...

Not him... 16.Jan.2004 16:44

James

...But his comments. It's a nuanced difference, but a difference nonetheless.

I don't call everyone who disagrees with me a racist. But, in my estimation, it is racist to be against immigration, or even against offshoring. So I'll let my opinion be known. You're free to ignore me, or point out the flaws in my logic if you disagree.

I think it should be fairly obvious why Woodman's comments were racist. As I alluded to in my post above, it was a classical divide-and-conquer, appeal to fear argument. The thrust of the argument was that under Bush's plan, Mexican workers (actually, Bush's plan is not specific to Mexican workers, but this post seemed to be) would soon be taking all of our jobs. And not only our agricultural jobs -- the manual labor sort that most people don't like. Soon "the Mexicans" would be taking all of our jobs.

It was racist because it divided workers -- people -- into seperate groups, based on their race. (Or nationality if you prefer, which ultimately is the same thing). Woodman's post assumed that Mexicans are somehow less deserving of jobs within America than Americans are, which is a fundamentally racist suggestion.

There is no reason to divide people like this. It just doesn't make any sense. People should be free to move about as they please, to work where they please.

In our world today -- and especially in America -- people are persistently worried about some foreign threat to jobs. But no such threat exists. Mexican (and other foreign national) workers are already here in America. They're already working -- agricultural jobs or otherwise. They're already contributing to the economy. Bush's proposal simply legalizes their existence.

Look -- I don't think Bush's immigration proposal is very good. It short changes workers. It's a boon to Walmart's shareholders more than its workers. But the Bush proposal is a step in the right direction. At the very least, it acknowledges that a problem exists, and offers a solution somewhat different than "round 'em up at the point of a gun."

That doesn't mean it should be supported. It just means that it's a good place to start to debate.

In another thread, we had discussed American IT jobs moving to Bangalore, and in a more general sense offshoring. The two (immigration, offshoring) are intertwined.

Americans have always -- ever since WWII at least -- been fearful of factories being shuttered and moved overseas. You hear about it constantly in the newspaper. We all know how Flint, MI was decimated by General Motors' factory closings, by General Motors' flight to Mexico. It was big news at the time and Michael Moore even made a movie about it.

We hear about factory closings constantly. But rarely do we hear about foreign companies opening factories in America. That's not because it doesn't happen -- indeed, we gain more jobs from foreign companies in America than we lose to then. In actuality, it's because a factory opening does not make good news.

When Honda or Toyota open a new factory in Michigan empoying a few hundred workers, that's not a good news story. But each of those companies employ tens of thousands of Americans.

And the same is true in other industries, of other companies, from other nations.

These things equal out. There is no foreign threat. It's just a scare tactic. When you say "race to the bottom", you're only looking at one side of the coin: The American Side. If you flipped your coin over, you'd see the other side was a "race to the top."

In case I've not made it perfectly clear why Woodman's comments were racist, I'll highlight a few choice quotes.

"I could easily envision Mexicans stocking shelves at Powell's, bussing tables at Jake's or doing any number of tasks that only require a strong back and a basic knowledge of the English language."

Goodness, the horror. Mexicans stocking shelves at Powell's? What is the world coming to?

"I'm sure for every person who is allowed to live and work here legally there will be an additional 2-5 illegal alien relatives who will come live here and further drain our welfare and healthcare system."

Children getting health care? Militarize the border now.

"Trouble is, by the time you pull your head out some Mexican citizen will be driving the forklift that you used to drive and all the crop workers and landscapers will be imported from China... "

This is just plain illogical. It assumes there's a static supply of jobs. That could hardly be further from the truth. When a foreign national works in America, they consume resources. Those resources (food, services, what have you) have to be produced. Thus, assuming an equalized market, for every job a foreign national worker takes, it's safe to assume they have create one, give or take a little. This is why we all (or, most of us, especially by recent historical standards) have jobs even though our population continues to grow, and grow, and grow.

If our foreign worker sends his earnings back home, it changes nothing. Those dollars have to be spent somewhere.

Babies are going to grow up to take our jobs, you know. It's true. If you're 30 years old now, you better watch out for the current crop of babies. They're going to grow up and enter the work force when you're around 50. They'll be younger, stronger, quicker. It will be harder and harder to compete with them. Sure, your experience will fend them off for a while. But only a while. Sooner or later, they'll replace you.

I think this means we should ban new births, or at least limit births to such an extent that our population does not rise.

You may be able to draw certain parallels between Woodman's comments and Dylan's great song, so I'll leave you with this snippet from "Only a pawn in their game":

A South politician preaches to the poor white man,
"You got more than the blacks, don't complain.
You're better than them, you been born with white skin," they explain.
And the Negro's name
Is used it is plain
For the politician's gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train

What's Wrong With Temporary Visas? 16.Jan.2004 18:27

Smoke N. Mirrors

Bush wants to use Mexican workers and then discard them. This is not in the spirit or intent of legal immigration and should not be equated with it. In fact, I understand that a great many Mexican migrant workers consider themselves just that -- migrant workers. They love Mexico and don't really want to become Americans. They follow the crops where they can make money and send a portion of it to their families remaining in Mexico.

How this new Bush boondoggle will be an improvement for anybody but the employer is beyond me.

By the way, I have an Australian-born sister-in-law who had to wait several years to become naturalized after marrying my brother. She is a hard-working professional who is nothing but an attribute to this country.

Temporary visas are available through the system of immigration and naturalization and always have been. Why not suggest that migrant workers use this system rather than giving them a free pass that I expect will turn out to be anything but free and difficult to regulate as well.

This is clearly nothing more than an attempt to garner votes from ethnic minority groups and I am not sure that it won't backfire!

It's not that easy 16.Jan.2004 20:55

James

"Temporary visas are available through the system of immigration and naturalization and always have been. Why not suggest that migrant workers use this system rather than giving them a free pass that I expect will turn out to be anything but free and difficult to regulate as well."

Well, I would go one step further: Why not give migrant workers permanent work visas, or citizenship if they want it, their choice. But neither of those are real options today. There are an infinite number of rules and regulations. Quotas. Per-country limits. And unskilled labor is at the bottom of the pack. Decisions are given on a preferential basis, like so:

First preference goes to: Persons of Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Professors and Researchers, or Multinational Executives or Managers
Second preference goes to anyond holding an advanced university degree.
Third preference goes to skilled workers, who require many years of training to perform their job tasks
Fourth preference goes to professional workers with a BA or BS.
And finally, the lowly worker, who just wants to "stock shelves at Powell's."

Bush's plan acknowledges that millions in the lower category are already at work in America -- that they're not being paid the minimum wage, that they're not subject to many labor laws. It gives them some benefits. If there was some path to citizenship available to these workers, I'd say this proposal was a fairly strong first step. But there's not, so I'm relatively neutral on it. I don't think the reality of it would actually hurt migrant workers, but I don't think it would help them much either.

Or you can look at it this way 17.Jan.2004 02:20

anonymous

Vicente Fox is putting America to work for him. He and the rest of the Mexican elite can't be bothered to fix Mexico's problems, that is create jobs and a better standard of living, get rid of rampant corruption etc., so he's come up with a better idea...

Make it easier for his hard working people to legally hold jobs in the US, providing even more cash to be sent home to Mexico. The Mexican government need not do any work, the elite get to keep their cash, corruption and stranglehold on power, while their people keep the economy going by working in the US.

This is the elite of the US and Mexico working together for their own benefit. In this plan the ones who benefit the most in the US are the employers, who can keep wages and benefits low, and stay legal.

The little guys lose. Americans of all colors are either shut out of jobs, or have to compete for lower wages and benefits, and Mexican immigrants can work and live here temporarily, but are shut out of full citizenship and the rights that go with it.

Note: Yes, I know this is Bush's plan, but Fox has been pushing for this kind of thing, and more for some time now. It works for both their interests.