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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Guest worker program just makes sense

    David Franciscolumnist
    David Francis
    columnist

    “”No amnesty!””

    That phrase, usually referring to the proposed guest-worker program for illegal immigrants in the United States, is often uttered with varying degrees of resentment – from passive insertion into a related conversation to blind rage every time a politician is heard espousing the benefits of the president’s guest-worker program.

    Having lived in two border states – Arizona and Texas – over the course of my lifetime, I have never heard the phrase used with compassion, pragmatism or even reasonable knowledge of the facts of immigration.

    In conversation with those who would have undocumented workers thrown out of the country and a wall built along the border to keep them out, one thing has become apparent: Those who support such a hard-line immigration stance are unable to see past their xenophobic idealism.

    The simple fact of the matter is that an enforcement-only policy (i.e. “”build a wall, throw ’em out””) is both impractical and embarrassing. There is no way the American public would put up with years of “”cleaning house”” as the federal government combed America for illegals to send home. Who honestly thinks it would take just a few months to uproot an estimated 12 million illegals and deport them? My own experience with immigrants tells me that such an operation is preposterous simply because (barring the creation of an American Gestapo) discerning each and every one of those 12 million illegals would be nearly impossible.

    Experts warn that the abrupt removal of so many people from our workforce would turn a booming economy into a bust. Despite the rants of those on the left, the years since the Bush tax cuts have yielded some of the most significant economic growth since World War II, and it would be more than a little unwise to take such growth for granted.

    Of course, simply building a border wall would stem the tide of illegal entry, but I wonder how long it would take before the world community made the all-too-easy association between such a border wall and the Berlin Wall, one of the ultimate symbols of repression?

    Establishing a national temporary-worker program is simply the best way to approach the immigration situation. Yes, such a program would be unfair to those who came into this country legally, but it is time for America to get real about this crisis: We face an unprecedented and unstoppable tide of immigration across our southern border, and immigrants (some legal, some not) will continue to make up a greater and greater percentage of the general population.

    Our politicians must today realize that attempting a hard-line immigration stance is a mistake for which they will pay dearly in the years to come, as legal immigrants will rightly resent their xenophobia and make that resentment known at the polls.

    As a Republican, I am particularly concerned because many Republicans support the aforementioned hard-line stance – to the detriments of both their party and their nation. Tucsonans and UA students should be aware of local congressional candidates (both Republican and Democratic) who support a sensible immigration policy. Among them is current Republican State Rep. Steve Huffman, who is running for the seat now held by retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe.

    Huffman sums up the issue: “”The problem is not that people want to work in our country; the problem is that they are here illegally. Border security reform without a temporary-worker program will be economic suicide in a state like ours.”” Having lived in border states for my entire lifetime, I could not agree more. Most undocumented workers are decent men and women who uphold our economy at its base level.

    No other nation in this hemisphere enjoys the status of being such a magnet for labor, yet at the same time no other nation in this hemisphere is as dependent on the labor and services that illegals often perform. No other nation is expected to be such a beacon of fairness and opportunity, and therefore as a nation, our every move regarding immigration will be closely scrutinized by the world community.

    Should we succumb to the immigration hard-liners by attempting a mass deportation of undocumented workers or by building the next Berlin Wall, Americans will suffer at home and our collective image will further suffer abroad. When attempting to tackle the problem of immigration, it is important to weigh the costs of each potential decision – and the scale is clearly tipped in favor of a realistic approach to immigration reform. Let’s make that clear this November.

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at opinions@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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