Wednesday, May 10, 2006

All posts were moved (11/2006) to

Republicans (!) get it mostly right...

... not completely, but not bad. I've been wondering how long it would be before the Senators realized that our other NAFTA partner also can't find enough workers for the crap jobs and has to recruit Mexican laborers. But, aside from better health-care, they don't have a hell of a lot to lure their next door neighbors north (who, in their right mind, would chose to live among "God's Frozen People"?). In the U.S., a good number of Mexican workers are going to stay, settle down and enrich the national culture (or at least the cuisine). Still, this is good news. Guest worker proposal modeled after Canada's By DAVE MONTGOMERY Fort Worth Star-Telegram WASHINGTON -- Moving toward a more high-profile role in the Senate's immigration debate, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said Tuesday that she plans to introduce a guest worker plan modeled after a program that has been operating successfully in Canada for four decades. The Texas Republican said she hopes to offer the plan as an amendment to comprehensive immigration legislation featuring a more extensive guest worker program that would put millions of illegal immigrants on track to permanent legal residency and eventual U.S. citizenship. The compromise legislation, co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Mel Martinez of Florida and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, came perilously close to collapse after it was first introduced in April. But it has since regained traction after President Bush met with a bipartisan group of senators and restated his commitment to an immigration overhaul. Martinez and other key supporters of the bill said Tuesday that they expect the Senate to begin a two-week debate on the bill next week and are guardedly optimistic that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada can resolve a parliamentary snag to allow consideration of at least some Republican amendments to the bill. Hutchison said her plan, called SAFE Visa, would enable U.S. employers to bring in foreign workers to fill jobs in agriculture and the service industry. But in a departure from the Martinez-Hagel plan, the guest workers would be required to return home and would not be eligible for permanent residency or citizenship. Hutchison also stressed that any immigration legislation emerging from Congress this year must include aggressive enforcement measures to secure the country's porous borders with Mexico and Canada. The most volatile elements of the immigration debate center on proposed guest worker programs and proposals to legalize up to 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. Hutchison's plan is patterned after a Canadian program that brings about 15,000 farm workers from Mexico and the Caribbean each year. The program is confined to agriculture, but Mexican President Vicente Fox is asking Canada to admit workers into the construction and service industries. Employers apply to the Canadian government to hire foreign workers for seasonal work if Canadians aren't available, according to a description of the program in Rural Migration News. The employers are required to at least partially cover housing, transportation and insurance costs. U.S. businesses are pushing for a guest worker program to bring in foreign low- and unskilled workers to fill hundreds of thousands of jobs they say go unfilled by U.S. workers because of a chronic labor shortage. Creation of a guest worker program is also a centerpiece of Bush's immigration plan. Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the Senate immigration subcommittee, was a co-sponsor of one of the Senate's major immigration plans until it was pushed aside in favor of the plan generally embraced by the Hagel-Martinez bill.


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