Despite the consistent failure of all guest-worker plans (e.g., France), Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., is peddling a new plan to import foreign workers who really are guests and really do go home.
Pence has turned his back on the 88 percent of Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted that the United States must achieve border security first, because Americans will be cheated on border security if Congress passes a "comprehensive" bill.
The Pence plan tries to avoid the amnesty label by requiring illegal immigrants now in the U.S. to make what he calls "a quick trip across the border" to Mexico or Canada to pick up a new W visa. A foreigner could get a W visa only if a U.S. employer certifies that a job awaits him.
Pence's plan calls for setting up privately financed offices outside the U.S., with the cutesy title Ellis Island Centers, to hand out the new W visas, which he claims would be more efficient than government bureaucracy. Business would, indeed, be more efficient than government in importing more foreign workers.
Having private employment agencies distribute the W visas would put the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Private industry has a built-in incentive to import as much cheap labor as possible.
Pence says that the Ellis Island Centers will be able to match workers with jobs, perform health screening, fingerprinting, and convey information to the FBI and Homeland Security for a background check in "a matter of one week, or less." We'll have to see that to believe it.
What about the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. today who do not have an employer willing to go on record as guaranteeing a job for a foreigner? These would include the relatives of jobholders, the day laborers, and the millions of illegal immigrants working in the U.S. underground cash economy (an estimated 40 percent of the total).
Pence's bill is silent on this, and his staff predicts that the free market will provide the answers. Pence told Time magazine his bill "will require the 12 million illegal immigrants to leave."
What about the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who are not Mexicans? Illegal immigrants will not have to return to their home country, but only appear at an Ellis Island Center anywhere outside the U.S. to pick up their papers. Will Mexico and Canada put out the welcome mat for a mass exodus of illegal immigrants from the U.S.?
The Pence plan provides that the guest workers, after living here legally for six years under the protection of a W visa, can choose whether to apply for citizenship or to return home. If guest workers don't apply for citizenship, will Pence hire buses to deport them after they have raised a family and established roots?
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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