A few weeks ago President George W. Bush proposed a shift in immigration policy, which he repeated in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The rules Bush proposes would allow undocumented aliens to obtain temporary work permits, provided they perform a job no Americans want or are qualified for. This program is a mixed bag in terms of progress in the area of immigration policy.
The benefit falls to the vast undocumented, so-called “illegal” population, which might number up to 15 million people. These individuals live here without permission from the U.S. government. This status makes it difficult to work, requiring them to take arduous and sometimes dangerous employment for pay far below the federal minimum wage.
Bush’s proposal approaches amnesty for the existing undocumented immigrants, although the president refuses to use that description. These people could now live without hiding from our government and work for a better wage.
To his credit, Bush acknowledged the immigration problem; however, he did not say that the U.S. economy depends on cheap labor from Mexico and those laborers’ exploitation.
This proposal could have clear benefits for the government. Immigration authorities would have the same information on the currently undocumented immigrant population as they do U.S. citizens, including addresses, tax records and police records. Aside from increased tax revenues, the government gains an ability to more easily govern those on its territory, including help in combating illegal drug trafficking and possibly terrorism.
Bush’s proposal is unclear and might not allow for these immigrants to remain permanently in the United States. The possibility of permanent legal residence in this country must be a part of the program in the end. To those in other lands, the United States has always represented the dream of a better life, not a few years of hard work with the reward of deportation.