Letters to the Editor
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Philosophy behind guest worker program
Lots of debates regarding the pro- and anti-federalization plus Public Law 15-108 (which is now in effect), forums, informal meetings and toolbox talks are very much alive in the Commonwealth among locals and foreigners alike at this very moment. Aside from attending forums, meetings and to find a more viable input, I found a very significant article coming from an independent organization that I hope will support the effort of many foreign workers here in the island seeking for improvement in their working status.
This article, titled "Guest Worker Program," was published in the US Immigration website (http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/guestworkerprogram.html). I am providing you with a copy of the said article so that both locals and foreigners will understand that no less than President Bush himself wants to improved the status of foreign workers because of their great contributions to the US economy.
Guest Worker Program
In 2004 President Bush proposed a guest worker program as a way of giving back to illegal immigrants. He discussed the important role that immigrants have played in the United States by shaping America into what it is today. The United States has had a tradition of welcoming foreigners into the country who have tended to assimilate well into American culture. Bush mentioned that the growth of immigrants over time has propelled the economy into the world's largest and has allowed it to become a powerhouse. Their contributions continue to be evident as they take on difficult jobs that many times require long hours. Immigrants are also known for starting their own businesses which help contribute to the U.S. economy. President Bush drew upon his personal experiences as a Texan to point out how Mexican immigrants he knew had made a difference in the country. He also added that they bring certain values with them like family, work ethic and independence. One specific example that he brought up was the thousands of immigrants that currently serve in the military. They may be foreign born but this did not deter them from embracing the service opportunities that this country has to offer.
Bush emphasized the qualities that immigrants brought to the country and how the United States was dependent upon them. Therefore, he suggested that changes in the current immigration system needed to be introduced. Some employers take advantage of the current situation of illegal immigrants by paying them less than minimum wage. Many hard-working illegal immigrants find themselves fearing deportation due to nationwide raids where documents are verified. Another possibility is that someone will report them to authority figures which can lead to deportation as well. Bush mentioned that having to spend their efforts on patrolling the borders so as to prevent immigrants from entering the country illegally hampers the efforts of securing the country overall. Thus, President Bush has proposed that a better immigration system be introduced so that more immigrants are able to achieve the American Dream.
Many immigrants come with the intention of improving their lives which is something that is shared by humanity in general. President Bush mentioned how they end up taking the jobs that many Americans will not even consider. Illegal immigrants make many sacrifices to reach the United States and often take abuse. Other times they are exploited but this goes unreported due to fear that they may end up being deported. Bush claimed that the current immigration system was not fair and that laws needed to become more humane. Under Bush's proposed temporary worker program, foreign workers would be given the opportunity to fill a job that Americans are not willing to take. Beforehand, the company must make reasonable efforts to find an American that will take the job. In the case that they cannot find a willing American, then they can resort to hiring an immigrant who has a valid permit. Permits will be given for a three year period and would be renewable upon meeting certain requirements. Those violating any requirements or laws will have their permit revoked and deported to their homeland. Employers will be required to hire only those with a valid permit. In addition, employers must report the information to the government so that they can keep track of those in the system. The government will also enforce harsh penalties for employers who violate any work laws under the guest worker program.
Those who participate in the program will be required to register and possibly pay a fee. This would depend on whether they were currently residing in the country or if they are currently abroad. To identify individuals in the program they will be given a temporary worker card. Bush would also work closely with the foreign governments to make sure that after the permit has expired they will have incentives to return to their country. In addition, he would also find a way to have the credit of a temporary worker applied to the retirement system in the foreign country. The temporary workers would also be able to contribute part of their earnings to some type of retirement savings plan. While the program proposed in 2004 was not approved, the guest worker program still is being promoted by President Bush. He mentioned the need for such program in a two day summit in Cancun, Mexico in March 2006. Currently, the guest worker program is part of a Senate bill on immigration reform that could grant amnesty to 12 million immigrants in the United States.
Disclaimer: This article was published by an independent organization. It should be used for information purposes only. Access it at http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/guestworkerprogram.html.
Carlito Jimenez Marquez
Puerto Rico, Saipan