President Bush's proposed expansion of guest worker programs has been widely denounced by critics on both the left and the right, but in a fresh analysis, Kerry Howley argues that guest worker programs might be good for the both U.S and for "the world's poorest people."
“Give the Senate some credit,” James Suroweicki wrote in the June 11 New Yorker: “In shaping the current immigration-reform bill, it has come up with one idea that almost everybody hates.” Hates was an understatement. President George W. Bush had been pushing for some sort of guest worker program since before the 9/11 attacks, and as that idea inched closer to realization in 2007, his critics grew more vitriolic. Right-wingers who fervently believed the U.S. government would succeed in rebuilding the Middle East excoriated Bush for his starry-eyed idealism, and left-wingers who wanted amnesty suddenly came out against the entrance of hundreds of thousands of new immigrants.
The New York Times complained that no worker should be sent home; National Review complained that no worker would go home. The New Republic said the plan fell within “the tradition of the African slave ship,” and the right-wing Center for Immigration Studies, which wants more deportations of peaceful undocumented workers, called it “morally dubious.” Continue Reading Kerry Howley (Reason, January 2008)
Bush might be right about an expanded guest worker program being our best alternative. I think that a substantial number of American's could be persuaded to an give expanded guest program a try, but I don't think Howley's analysis would persuade the discourse-dominating ideologues who insist on an America that replicates the America of their fantasies.
For better or for worse, ideologues are defending frames of reference they rely upon to make sense of all things political. With stakes like that, changing one's mind on a single political issue can seem like stepping into a moral and intellectual abyss -- and no one likes stepping into an abyss.
H/T: Will Wilkinson