Haven’t gotten through all 844 pages of the Gang of 8’s immigration reform bill yet?
CGD Policy Blogs
If you thought the immigration debates of the last few months were rough, hold on to your visas, because it’s about to get ugly. The Senate Gang of 8’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, has been released. And at the epicenter of these debates is the provision creating visas for what are often called “guest workers”—an issue close to CGD’s heart.
Migrant advocates rarely say a good word about guest-work visas. Many harshly criticize the conditions and wages of authorized US guest workers as economic exploitation comparable to slavery. Often that’s where their comments end.
In 2008, when I returned from trips abroad at Boston’s Logan International Airport, I was greeted by pictures of the president and the regional director for Homeland Security, Lorraine Henderson, who had the responsibility for the enforcement of immigration law in the northeastern US. In December of 2008, Lorraine Henderson was arrested. Her crime? She employed Fabiana Bitencourt to clean her house. The rub: Fabiana was a Brazilian national who didn’t have authorization to work in the United States. When Fabiana suggested she might return to Brazil for a visit, Lorraine advised that since enforcement was based only on border interdiction, Fabiana ran risks crossing the border but almost no risk in staying put. Lorraine Henderson was charged with “encouraging” and “inducing” an alien to remain in the country illegally.
Yesterday I discovered a development organization so revolutionary, most people wouldn’t even call it a development organization. It’s a non-profit called the Independent Agricultural Worker Center (CITA).
CITA is a matchmaker between farms and seasonal agricultural workers. The farms are in the United States; almost all of the workers are in Mexico. CITA brings them together and unleashes the vast economic power of labor mobility for development.
I was sad and disgusted last week to see the highly-respected New York Times declare that “America is stealing the world’s doctors”.
I spent last Friday in rural North Carolina, talking with American farmers who employ farmworkers from developing countries. I wanted to get the hard facts on whether or not those workers displace U.S.
Last month, a CGD initiative succeeded in getting Haitians access to America’s largest temporary work visa program.
The story of Dubai is remarkable. In six decades it has grown from a small fishing village to a gleaming metropolis with a per capita GDP comparable to that of the United States. In many ways, Dubai must be seen to be believed. Even its skyline is unreal–rising straight out of the desert and dominated by the tallest building in the world—the 2625 ft., 160-story, silver-and-glass Burj Khalifa.
This post is originally appeared on Owen Abroad: Thoughts from Owen in Africa.