Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States

Southern Poverty Law Center. March 2007

In his 2007 State of the Union Address, President Bush called for legislation creating a "legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis." Doing so, the president said, would mean "they won't have to try to sneak in." Such a program has been central to Bush's past immigration reform proposals. Similarly, recent congressional proposals have included provisions that would bring potentially millions of new "guest" workers to the United States.

What Bush did not say was that the United States already has a guestworker program for unskilled laborers — one that is largely hidden from view because the workers are typically socially and geographically isolated. Before we expand this system in the name of immigration reform, we should carefully examine how it operates.

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Click here to download the complete report.

Also, click here for interview with Mary Bauer, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Immigrant Justice Project, and author of the new report.