Tuesday, November 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Guest-worker option a poison pill

navarrette column sig

By
From page A7 | February 21, 2013 |

SAN DIEGO — U.S. Border Patrol agents battle a primitive hazard on the U.S.-Mexico border: rock throwing. Smugglers will give kids a few pesos to hurl stones and bits of concrete at agents in order to distract them. Meanwhile, a few miles away, the smugglers move their illicit cargo into the United States.

In Washington, lawmakers in both parties use a similar strategy when piecing together immigration reform proposals. They throw in an inflammatory item that they know will be controversial so they can deflect everyone’s attention away from the really crucial element of the proposal. Americans fall for this trick every time. We’re largely ignoring what we should be talking about. And what we think is important really doesn’t matter much.

What does matter to politicians? You already know the answer. It’s always about the money. Democrats get money from labor and Republicans get it from business. Those are the interests that are going to be protected.

In the Senate, a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes doing four things: building a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants; improving legal immigration by making it easier to retain high-skilled immigrants; tightening restrictions and penalties on employers to prevent them from hiring illegal immigrants; and creating a temporary guest worker program for the agricultural industry.

In the House, another bipartisan group is working on a similar piece of legislation.

And finally, the White House is now circulating a draft of its own immigration proposal, which seems to take a harder line than expected. The plan would give illegal immigrants the chance to escape deportation by becoming a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant.” But immigrants would still have to apply for such status and not have it granted automatically, as some reformers demand. Nor would the path to a green card be as quick as the reformers would like; immigrants could get their documents in about eight years. Citizenship would take even longer. When all is said and done, we’re likely talking about 10-13 years for someone to go from illegal immigrant to U.S. citizen.

That isn’t exactly like the express lane at the supermarket, no matter what critics say.

Naturally, the proposed pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants is all anyone is talking about. How long should it take? How difficult should it be?

Yet, the real deal-breaker – the guest worker plan – is something that isn’t getting much attention. The immigration debate doesn’t revolve around border security or what restrictionists call “amnesty.” It revolves around the idea of bringing into the United States a few hundred thousand temporary foreign workers to do what George W. Bush used to call “jobs that Americans won’t do” – primarily on farms and ranches.

For politicians, guest workers are where the money is. Labor wants to kill the idea, and business wants to save it. And both sides are prepared to spend a fortune to get their way. Negotiations between the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are going nowhere. Neither side will budge on the issue of guest workers.

We’ve seen this before – in 2006 and 2007 – when Congress previously attempted immigration reform. Back then, as you’ll recall, Americans argued at the top of their lungs over whether to legalize the undocumented. It got ugly. But when compromise bills went down in flames – due to an unholy alliance between pro-labor Democrats and nativist Republicans, neither of whom was thrilled by the prospect of legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants – it was entirely because of guest workers.

In 2007, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., proposed an amendment designed to kill an immigration reform bill by removing language calling for guest workers. Followers of the legislation knew that this would eliminate Republican support for the bill, and that Democrats were splintered and thus didn’t have the votes to carry the bill over the finish line on their own. The Dorgan amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 49-48. The language on guest workers came out. Republicans retreated. And sure enough, the bill died.

Six years later, note that one thing missing from the White House immigration plan is any mention of guest workers. This should come as no surprise to those who have been paying attention.

Among those voting in favor of the Dorgan amendment was a young Democratic senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. Promises and pretty words notwithstanding, he was against immigration reform then and he’s not serious about it now.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

Ruben Navarrette

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Soroptimists seek award applicants

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
Science comes to library – for all to see

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Library schedules soap-making program

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
 
Volunteers help Mission Solano pack for food giveaway

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
.

US / World

Incumbent Democrats lose in 2 close California Assembly races

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
VA fires Phoenix hospital director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iraqi troops take 2 towns from Islamic State group

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Iran nuclear talks stumble, extended until July

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Brown names assistant US attorney to high court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Driver fatigue may have caused California crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

Israel resumes razing homes to punish attackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
GOP wisdom shifts on immigration

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 8 Comments | Gallery

Under pressure, Hagel steps down as Pentagon chief

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
No charges in Ferguson case; chaos fills streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 62 Comments | Gallery

.

Opinion

 
Senate staff cuts reduce transparency

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

‘Wizard of Oz’ Cowardly Lion costume fetches $3M

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Miller puts own spin on longtime ‘GH’ character

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

‘Today’ looks to rebound from tough week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Review: Turmoil helps AC/DC shine on new album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Guitarist: Leon Russell band’s instruments stolen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Sting tries to help his ailing Broadway musical

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

In wake of Spotify pullout, music industry debates streaming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Bill Weir’s new CNN series to begin in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

TVGrid Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Forsett leads Ravens past Saints, 34-27

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bills rout Jets 38-3 in rescheduled game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Even top NFL teams have taken steps back

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aldon Smith helps lead in 49ers’ 3rd straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Rod Streater returns to practice for Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Taylor apologizes, won’t appeal NBA suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz on Hall of Fame ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
No. 1 Kentucky gives Kansas a Top 25 tumble

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

LeBron on Cavaliers’ issues: “I stink”

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Police: Manziel’s entourage attacked fan at hotel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants set record with $388,606 postseason shares

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Longtime NHL coach, executive Pat Quinn dies at 71

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Pablo Sandoval reaches multiyear deal with Red Sox

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
San Francisco turning to groundwater for its taps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

South Carolina the new No. 1 in AP women’s hoops

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
.

Business

Budweiser gives Clydesdales holiday pink slip

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 3 Comments

 
Redbox raising DVD rental rates by 25 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

New FDA rules will put calorie counts on menus

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Unidentified country likely behind spying software

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Honda admits failing to report deaths, injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
United Technologies CEO retires, succeeded by CFO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Nike extends contract with USOC through 2020

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
High-end home sales surge in Southern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Rose is Rose Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4