A Note from the Editor - Summer 2001

By Wayne Lutton
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 11, Number 4 (Summer 2001)
Issue theme: "'The Limits to Growth' - honoring the memory of Donella Meadows"

Another Amnesty and More Guest Workers?

As we go to press, Mexican President Vicente Fox is conducting a triumphal tour of Mexican strongholds in the Midwest. His demands include the "legalization" [i.e. amnesty] of the several million Mexican nationals who entered, and remain in, the United States illegally, along with a massive "guest worker" program. Before leaving Mexico City for his North American expedition, President Fox outlined an ambitious plan to promote further Mexican emigration to the United States, while increasing the ties between Mexico proper and her citizens living abroad [cf. Howard Sutherland, "Mexico Has A Plan for the U.S." published at the internet site: www.VDARE.com, July 16, 2001].

Even before George W. Bush was sworn in as President of the United States, similar proposals were aired in Mexico with President Fox by a delegation of five U.S. Senators, led by Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), the powerful chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Gramm and his colleagues Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Zell Miller (D-Georgia), promised to sponsor a "guest worker" program that would grant Mexico virtually unlimited access to the U.S. labor market. The "guest worker" proposal would permit as many as eight million Mexicans living illegally in the U.S. to remain here and be given the same rights as American workers. Their plan would grant annually renewable legal permits to Mexican workers-first to those already here illegally, and then to other Mexicans interested in coming to the United States.

At a time when the U.S. economy is slowing down, the "guest worker" program would flood the American market with unskilled workers. Instead of being sent home, as the law provides, millions of illegal aliens would be rewarded by being "legalized."

In addition to the "guest worker" program, the Bush Administration is contemplating granting a general amnesty to illegal aliens from Mexico, whether or not they sign on as guest workers. A number of President Bush's campaign consultants claim that Republicans can "reposition" themselves with Latino voters before the 2004 Presidential election by endorsing an amnesty and guest worker programs. But under the best of circumstances, Republican "strategists" concede, it is unlikely that Bush, or any other Republican, can hope to carry more than 40 percent of the Latino vote. We pointed out in our Spring 2001 issue [theme: "George W. Bush, Last Republican President? And Does It Matter?"] Third World immigrants are not a natural constituency for such traditional Republican planks as tax cuts, welfare reduction, and increased Defense Department spending. During a photo-op visit to Ellis Island on July 10, 2001, both President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft repeated many of the clichés about our history that are standard fare among proponents of mass immigration. Attorney General Ashcroft claimed that the Statute of Liberty is a symbol that America embraces immigration "from all parts of the world" and that Emma Lazarus' poem is "testimony to the uniquely American experience which provide a basis for new Americans finding not just a welcoming, but an unapologetic expression of confidence in the power of freedom. Miss Lazarus did not write, ‘Give me your top 10 percent or give me the cream of your crop, give me the merit scholars on the SAT.'"

President Bush, welcoming twenty-nine newly sworn-in citizens at the Ellis Island ceremony, pledged to accelerate the immigration process. "Immigration," he went on, "is not a problem to be solved, it is a sign of a confident and successful nation...This is one of the things that makes our country so unique: With a single oath, all at once you become as fully American as the most direct descendant of a founding father...New citizens bring renewal...We're a diverse country and getting more diverse, and these virtues-self-government, our sense of duty, loyalty, self-confidence and regard for the common good-are what keeps this great country together. Believing in them and living by them, this great land will always be united."

Attorney General Ashcroft is apparently unaware that the Statute of Liberty was raised not as a symbol to immigration, but as a testimony to what the project's nineteenth-century French sponsors saw as the remarkable success of America's republican institutions. They hoped that similar democratic customs would take hold elsewhere around the world.

President Bush revealed that he has an even poorer grasp of the issues at stake than did his predecessor, Bill Clinton. Like the former Soviet Union, and the Habsburg Empire in the early 20th century, America is rife with ethnic strife. And the sheer numbers of immigrants (and their descendants) who have arrived over the past thirty-five years contribute to environmental costs and resource stress. As in our past, when waves of in-migration were followed by strict curtailment, a time-out from mass immigration is required to enable us to address a host of population-related concerns.

While the public remains unconvinced about the benefits of an amnesty or guest worker program, special interests are vigorously pushing this agenda. Those of us involved in these issues have a lot of work to do.

Wayne Lutton, Ph.D.

About the author

Wayne Lutton, Ph.D., is editor of The Social Contract

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