2004 January 25 Sunday
Bush Libertarian Immigration Proposal Radical, Unpopular

Steve Sailer reports on the Bush Administration's radical proposal to substantially increase the flow of foreigners into the United States to take jobs.

While some details of the Bush guest worker program remain murky, and any actual legislation would have to be hammered out with Congress, the statements issued so far by the White House imply an open-ended, strikingly libertarian approach to globalizing the U.S. job market.

A fact sheet issued by the White House to accompany the president's speech on Wednesday made clear that the administration envisions bringing into the country a substantial increase in the supply of labor above that provided by current U.S. residents, both legal and presently illegal. The White House complained: "Current immigration law can also hinder companies from finding willing workers. The visas now available do not allow employers to fill jobs in many key sectors of our economy."

Bush announced: "I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. This program will offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States, and to those in foreign countries who seek to participate in the program and have been offered employment here. ... All who participate in the temporary worker program must have a job, or, if not living in the United States, a job offer."

The White House list of common questions and answers about the Bush proposal argues for an inability of American employers to find willing American workers which is the fallacy at the base of the Bush Administration immigration proposal.

Question: Will the federal government be able to implement such a large-scale immigration program and also enforce the immigration laws?

While the details of the program will be worked out during discussions with Congress, we envision that the temporary worker program will simplify employers' hiring of foreign workers and contain sufficient protections to protect the American workforce. We anticipate that the program would include: a web site that would list available jobs and authorized workers; a simple process for employers to establish that they have been unable to find American workers; the requirement that the employer report when foreign workers enter and leave their employ; and strong audit and penalty provisions to ensure that both employers and workers are following the rules.

How would employers show that they have been unable to find local workers? That seems easy to do: figure out what the local market price is for workers to do a particular job and then advertise for workers to do that job at an amount that is less than the local market price but which is an amount high enough to be appealing to, say, someone living in a poor part of Mexico or Ecuador or India. Then when no applicants are forthcoming an employer can claim a need to hire foreign workers to fill open positions at that low wage.

An accomplished Republican Party activist offers comments on the very radical and unconservative Bush immigration proposal:

Under the proposal, any American employer with an unfilled job opening may post that opening on the Internet and immediately import an at-will foreign worker to "temporarily" fill that job, since the "magic of the marketplace" proves that all open jobs are axiomatically unattractive to American workers. Thus, if Walmart currently pays its "associates" $8.25 an hour with some benefits, it could immediately lower its compensation scheme to $5.25 an hour with no benefits, tut-tut in disappointment when 90% of its workforce quickly quit, then utilize the chartered freight-trains and buses it had thoughtfully prepared to immediately import a million Mexicans to replace them. This really does appear to be the intent of the Bush Proposal.

Furthermore, given the Administration's noted humanitarian bent and its desire to foster Latino entrepreneurship, we should not be surprised at some of the subtler aspects of the Bush Plan. For example, under the heightened border patrol regime put in place during the 1990s, the cost paid by illegal immigrants to smugglers has steadily risen into the thousands of dollars each and significant numbers of border crossers die each year in the scorching Arizona desert. As proposed by the Bushies, current smugglers have merely to rebrand themselves American "employers," post their "job" openings on the Internet, then quietly charge their Third World "applicants" a hefty but hidden fee covering travel, overhead, a healthy profit, and a week's minimum wage's, afterward telling their erstwhile employees to "get lost"---which they will eagerly do, in Los Angeles or New York.

Presumably, the goal of the politics-uber-alles Bush White House is to appeal to Latino and immigrant voters. I suspect this media strategy will be quite successful---for the first two seconds until Democratic organizers inform heavily-immigrant SEIU or hotel workers that Bush has proposed allowing their employers to immediately import unlimited numbers of minimum-wage foreign strike-breakers from everywhere in the world. After those two seconds, El Busho will be lucky to get 1% of the (overwhelmingly) working-class Latino vote.

And given all the current grim facts about our jobless "recovery," we shouldn't expect El W's share of the Anglo working-class vote to end up much higher.

Even if Bush's proposed foreign temporary worker hiring law was enforced well enough to prevent importation of workers for non-existent jobs the smugglers could still use the law to bring in large numbers of workers. The smugglers could essentially turn themselves into contract worker supply agencies and develop large numbers of contacts with both small and large businesses that want cheaper labor. Any factory, home builder, painting contractor, trash collection company, janitorial services company, or a company in countless other industries could make deals with Mexican entrepreneurs to bring in an endless supply of minimum wage workers who can replace workers who are currently making $8 or $10 or $12 or $15 per hour.

Of course the Mexican workers would have to compete with the Bangladeshis, Indians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Ecuadorians, and literally billions of others. A program that allowed employers to recruit unlimited numbers of foreign temporary workers would make the current rate of influx of illegal aliens seem meager by comparison. The United States could become like Saudi Arabia with more foreigners working in the economy than natives.

Most of the temporary workers would disappear from their legal jobs if the time for their work permit came to an end and they were facing deportation. So millions of temporary workers would eventually become permanent illegal aliens. Worse, many of them would have kids and those kids would be born American citizens. This would all be paid for by taxpayer subsidies for the births as the foreign women presented themselves at emergency wards in labor. Then their kids would become eligible for Medicaid and other benefits, again paid for by the taxpayers. This will continue the growth of the Recipient Class. The growth of the less skilled portions of the populace inevitably leads to the growth of big government. Said growth in government is something that real conservatives oppose.

For many previous supporters of George W. Bush this latest proposal is serving as a last straw. Georgia GOP Bush fund raiser Phil Kent reports Republican donors are angry about Bush's proposal. (same article here)

Phil Kent, a member of the host committee for a Bush fund-raiser in Atlanta yesterday, said he was told by several would-be donors that they would not attend the $2,000-per-person event because of the president's announcement last week on immigration reform.

Part of Bush's base may abandon him over immigration.

"They're not going to vote Democratic," said Karlyn H. Bowman, a polling specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. "Staying home in a close election is what the Republicans would be worried about."

Right now, polls indicate that more than 90 percent of people who identify themselves as conservative back Bush. The president's conservative base has been firmed up by patriotic identification with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the cuts in income-tax rates, and Bush's embrace of some key aspects of the evangelical Christian social agenda, including enacting a ban on the procedure conservatives call "partial-birth" abortion.

Famed Republican Party activist Paul Weyrich says Bush has stepped on a political landmine.

At any rate, Bush clearly has stepped on a land mine with his immigration initiative. This is not like other issues. Emotions run so deep on immigration that once voters are lost over this issue it will be next to impossible to get them back.

And while I said there was not enough of a revolt on the spending issues to cause a revolt, it could be that immigration in addition to spending may push some voters over the cliff.

Rep. LaMar Smith, an expert on immigration, says he can't imagine something this controversial passing the Congress in an election year. I can. Unless Democrats just want to vote no to embarrass the President, most of them favor the Bush plan and there will be enough Republicans loyal to Bush to garner the votes needed to pass the measure.

Even if the proposal does not pass in 2004 it seems reasonable to expect that Bush will promote it in 2005. If he wins reelection by a substantial margin he will be in a stronger position to promote its passage.

Many Republicans have begun to rationalize to themselves the advantage of a single term Bush presidency.

A conservative activist who has worked to help the Bush-Cheney campaign but asked not to be identified said many people with whom he talks are beginning to justify in their minds a one-term Bush presidency.

"As long as Republicans and conservatives keep the Congress, we can lose the White House," the activist said. "Let Karl Rove put that in his pipe and smoke it, because we can use the Congress to block a Democratic president's judges and initiatives."

Count me in the ranks of those who think the United States of America would be better off if George W. Bush is not reelected.

Update: Work permits would tie the foreign workers to specific employers who would manage to be approved to hire foreigners. Therefore work permits would tie foreign workers to their employers and give the employers a dangerous amount of power over them.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, state Sen. Barack Obama and state Comptroller Dan Hynes fear employer abuses as immigrants likely would do anything to keep their permits and avoid illegal status.

Pappas said the policy creates a "second-class citizenry living within our borders."

I'd rather not live in a feudal society.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 January 25 02:33 PM  Immigration Elites Versus Masses

Bob Badour said at January 25, 2004 3:52 PM:

In 1933, American protectionism exported poverty to the world. 71 years later an American president wants to import it back again. What a difference a lifetime makes, eh?

What are the chances Bush will lose the Republican nomination? Any?

One can see the outlines of the Jacksonian shift; this time next year we will know all the details.

AMac said at January 25, 2004 7:19 PM:

I joined Democratic Hawks like Zell Miller, Roger Simon, and Michael Totten in abandoning the Nine Dwarves of my own party to support Bush, because of his foreign policy stance.

Bush "stepped on a land mine," indeed. He's figured out the one thing that could keep my checkbook closed and me away from the polls this November.

Let's see: who, exactly, constitutes the "We The People" of the United States?

Is it "opportunistic employers of low-wage immigrants who will support GWB in gratitude for their plunging labor costs"?

Do we rely on the far-left Open Borders movement for the answer: "anyone who can get to US territory, preferably people who are ill-disposed to the culture and politics of the American mainstream"?

Or is the answer, "The Citizens of the United States"?

If the latter: considering the analyses that Randall Parker discusses in this post, it's easy to see how Bush's proposal damages our country, and the economic and political interests of its Citizens. Where, exactly, are the countervailing benefits?

Bruce said at January 26, 2004 11:55 AM:

I've come to that strange conclusion as well, a few days ago - I think it would probably be better if Bush were not reelected.

The people over at GOP are attacking this idea, somewhat like an apartment dweller stomping on roaches.

There is something irrational about his uncritical and overboard fondness for these people, his Mexicans. Sometimes you meet people with
peculiar irrationalities. Didn't we excoriate Clinton for that? He is so weirdly addicted to sex with women other than his wife, that he
would risk everything to have a chubby intern do his winky, in a highly-inappropriate locale. Irrational. And Bush is like that, too.

What would a Dem President do that is worse than what Dubya has done? Dems do not control Congress, and I do not see them gaining control
any time soon. If conservatives do not abort this bizarre globalist-liberalism that Bush has brought into his party, both the party and the
electorate are looking toward some very upset times. Who needs it? The guy has to go, now, such that we can instigate some sort of accurate
representation of the electorate's wishes, on this issue and others.

Michael said at January 26, 2004 3:39 PM:

I've wanted to know for some time,bloggers have been very critical of Canada's francophile policies over the last year or so,why no critisism of Mexico,which embraced the exact same anti-american policies as Canada?

Randall Parker said at January 26, 2004 3:51 PM:

Michael, I have pointed out on a few occasions that Mexico opposes the US in international fora. See, for instance, this post and also this post as well.

Bloggers, Canada, France, Mexico: You have to separate the neoconservatives from other conservatives. They do not all break the same way on immigration and other issues. I do not have hostility for France so much as I have sympathy. They are in a tight spot as a result of large scale Muslim immigration. Their elites are no wiser than ours about immigration. But we got lucky in that we are not near Muslim countries.

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2004 8:39 PM:

Peterpaul, Wou want to contact me about what exactly?

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