Illegal Aliens And Guest Workers Cost Americans Jobs And Depress Wages

One of the proposals nearest and dearest to the hearts of Republicans who are soft on illegal immigrants is a guest worker program. In their view, it solves all of our problems with illegals in one fell swoop.

We bring all of the illegals into the system by giving them guest worker status and since there will be a guest worker program in place, businesses that hire illegals (who, along with their allies, are driving much of the pro-illegal immigrant sentiment on the right) will always have a steady flow of cheap foreign labor.

However, there are some serious problems with setting up a guest program. For example, by bringing the, “undocumented workers,” into the system instead of people who have been patiently waiting in line to enter the US, we would be rewarding the people who entered the US illegally.

Moreover, who’s to say that a guest worker program will even staunch the flow of illegal aliens? After all, since guest workers will be, “on the books,” which means paying taxes, more paperwork, and more regulations, the businesses that use illegal labor may still find it to be significantly cheaper to hire illegals.

That’s why a guest worker program isn’t likely, in and of itself, to make a big dent in the number of illegal aliens entering this country. Given the laxity of our current immigration enforcement measures, businesses may still prefer to hire illegal aliens rather than guest workers or American citizens.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that we already do have a guest worker program, H1-B, and as you’re about to read, it’s far from trouble free:

“A new report says foreigners granted temporary visas to work in the United States are paid far less than their American counterparts, despite a federal law requiring employers to provide them with fair compensation.

The Center for Immigration Studies said the visa program, known as H1-B, allows U.S. firms to hire professional-level workers from other countries for periods up to six years, provided they are paid the same as comparable American workers or the “prevailing wage” for that job, whichever is higher.

John Miano, author of the study, said the law was designed “to prevent the hiring of foreign workers from depressing U.S. wages and to protect foreign workers from exploitation.”

…Among Miano’s findings:

On average, H1-B applications for foreign computer workers were for wages $13,000 less than for American employees in the same occupation and state.

Wages for H1-B workers are “overwhelmingly concentrated at the bottom of the U.S. pay scale.”

…Employers hiring more H1-B workers tend to pay them less than comparable U.S. workers; employers making application for more than 100 H1-B workers pay them $9,000 less per year on average than U.S. workers doing the same job.

…Originally limited to 65,000 visas a year, it has become especially popular with American high-tech employers like Bill Gates, founder and head of Microsoft Corp., who has pressed Congress to get rid of H1-B visa caps altogether.

“The whole idea of the H1-B thing is don’t let too many smart people come into the country. Basically, it doesn’t make sense,” Gates told a group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill in April. “You can’t imagine how tough it is to plan as a company where we say, ‘Let’s have this engineering group and staff it.’ You get a few and then you go through these periods where nobody can come in.”

…Since 9-11, a number of lawmakers have been reluctant to remove current H1-B caps, saying they worry the program could be used by potential terrorists to gain access to the country.

Others who worry more about American jobs may see their criticism justified by the report’s findings.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., is among a growing bipartisan group of lawmakers who long have opposed H1-B because they believe U.S. companies utilize it to import cheaper labor and undercut American workers. He and others support either substantially reducing the number of visas granted by the government annually or elimination of the program altogether.

“The fact is that many, many of our jobs are being taken by illegal immigrants or by people who are here legally but are willing to work for less than an American citizen would work for,” Tancredo says. At the same time, Republicans are being pressured by “the people who have business interests, to avoid doing anything that might impede the flow of low-cost employees, low-wage, low-skilled people. …”

…Other critics of the program say several former employees of American high-tech firms suffered the ultimate indignation when they were forced by their companies to train their H1-B replacements – then were laid off.”

You often hear the phrase, “jobs Americans won’t do,” tossed around. However, there is no such thing. There are only jobs that Americans won’t do at a certain wage. If you could make 10 thousand dollars a week digging ditches, there would be a 5 mile long line every time a job opening came available. Conversely, if doctors could only make minimum wage, no one would be willing to go to medical school……

Which brings us to the problem with guest workers. Businesses are all about making profits. If a US company can hire a worker from a third world country and pay them significantly less to do the same job an American would otherwise be doing, they’ll happily do it.

In fact, that’s what illegal immigration and a guest worker program is really all about for businesses: not filling slots that would otherwise go empty, but reducing labor costs by hiring foreigners to do jobs that would otherwise be done by Americans at a higher wage.

Keep all that in mind when you hear pro-illegal immigration politicians expounding on how a guest worker program would be the key to fixing all of our problems with illegal immigration.

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