Sunday, October 16, 2005

Easing of labor laws

Campbell (2005) suggests that "At a time when Latino immigrants are expected to form a big part of the Gulf Coast reconstruction labor pool, the Department of Homeland Security has temporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers unable to prove their citizenship, essentially allowing contractors to hire undocumented workers."

The post-Katrina suspension of such laws could have a negative effect on our relation with Mexico. Jorge Bustamante, a leading expert on Mexican migration, says the government's temporary provisions only cement the inferior status of undocumented workers.

"Katrina is producing a large demand for undocumented workers,” says Mr. Bustamante, a professor at Notre Dame University in Indiana. “That's why they're bending the rules. But then once the job is done, it's back in the shadows. The hypocrisy is astounding."

An alternative plan under consideration by Congress would allow unauthorized workers to enroll in a guest-worker program and would eventually lead to citizenship. Tom Tancredo, a Republican congressman from Colorado, criticizes the temporary changes. "Why don't we just erase our borders and have the entire Third World work here?" he says. "If the president doesn't like the current laws, then he should repeal them altogether and stop pretending that we've got an immigration policy."

"I don't think that, post-Katrina, the signals are any less mixed than they've been in the past," says Jeffrey Davidow, former US Ambassador to Mexico and president of the Institute of the Americas at the University of California, San Diego. “We're still saying that we'll strengthen the border and tighten security, while also sending the message that once you get to the States you can get a job.”

Campbell, Monica “Foreign workers may form a big part of Gulf Coast reconstruction.” Christian Science Monitor. October 4, 2005


jbv's Competitive Edge 


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