Yesterday evening, the Senate voted to keep a temporary guest worker program in the immigration bill. Big mistake.
While the bill would sensibly create a path to earned citizenship for the 12 million immigrants currently here illegally, it then starts the problem anew.
Temporary workers would only be allowed in for three separate two-year stints, and no chance to earn citizenship. People who need to feed their family for longer than a few years won’t find that terribly useful.
And since nothing is being done to improve the economy and create good jobs south of the border, the incentive to risk their lives, leave their homes and immigrate illegally will persist.
Some backers of the compromise acknowledge the temporary program is flawed (an amendment to reduce the size of the program will likely pass). But they insist it must stay to ensure passage.
That’s boneheaded, short-sighted politics. Who’s being kept on board by including a program that nullifies the attempt to solve the problem?
Not nativist conservatives who impractically and immorally want all 12 million thrown over a border wall. Not immigrant advocates who believe everyone should be treated like humans and not indentured servants.
Only businesses interested in cheap labor (who are strategically complaining that the program isn’t big enough).
Even if this compromise defies the odds and becomes law, it won’t fundamentally reform our broken immigration system, lift up our regional economy and extend dignity to all — meaning any legislative victory will be very fleeting.