The Tar Pit

Sunday, January 23, 2005

President Bush's "any willing employee" guest worker plan: no known limits

In The Problem with "any willing employee" immigration reform, Michelle Malkin observes:

As Phyllis Schlafly has noted, Bush hasn't spoken of a limit to the number of "willing employees." Can anyone doubt that she is right when she says that "up to 5 billion people in the world might want to be 'willing employees' in the United States"?

Schlafly was writing in January of 2004 about the press conference the month before that announced the capture of Saddam Hussein. In that conference the President was caught by an unexpected question regarding then-DHS Secretary Tom Ridge's comments that America should find a way to legalize 8 to 12 million illegal aliens. Before making his standard empty declaration that he opposes "blanket amnesty," -- everyone does -- President Bush said that he wants to legalize enough illegal aliens and institute a guest worker program that would "match any willing employer with any willing employee."

Setting aside the President's dishonesty in advocating a legalization of any illegal aliens while posing as though he opposes amnesty, as Malkin and Schlafly correctly surmise, the President's overall desire for a guest worker program for non-illegals is rather open-ended, as stated there.

Fortunately, that wasn't the only time during his Presidency that Bush has put forth his "willing worker + willing employer = guest worker visa" equation. I happen to be an avid collector of Bush's comments along those lines, and there are at least five, including the occasion discussed by Malkin and Schlafly:

Q. Mr. President, on the immigration proposal that you're weighing, sir, is there some reason that only Mexican workers should be considered? What about those from other countries?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we'll consider all folks here. Let me make this very clear to people, that there was -- a word was creeping in the vernacular about this issue, called amnesty. I oppose blanket amnesty. The American people need to know that. I do believe, though, that when we find willing employer and willing employee, we ought to match the two.

President Bush's Remarks on Immigration Reform
July 26, 2001

2001! How about that for consistency? The President wants to match willing workers with willing employers and opposes the mythical "blanket amnesty." He hasn't deviated from his pre-9/11, pro-illegal alien, pro-open border positions at all. Follow the link, the President placed no limits on his guest worker program back then either. Not a single time, never.

I have constantly said that we need to have a immigration policy that helps match any willing employer with any willing employee.

President Bush Holds Press Conference
December 15, 2003

This is the comment mentioned by Michelle today. Presumably, when the President is speaking of "any willing employee," he means American employers. As open-ended as the President's position is, it seems unlikely that he's simultaneously proposing a "guest employer program."

But there's more:

I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. This program will offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States, and to those in foreign countries who seek to participate in the program and have been offered employment here. This new system should be clear and efficient, so employers are able to find workers quickly and simply.

President Bush Proposes New Temporary Worker Program
January 7, 2004

Finally, a restriction: the guest worker plan ensure that "employers are able to find workers quickly and simply."

But the President wasn't done:

...current law says to those workers, "You must live in a massive, undocumented economy."

And so we've got people in America working hard who live in fear and who are often exploited. And this system isn't fair, and it's not right. So I proposed reforms that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs, a system that would grant legal status to temporary workers who are here in the country working, that will increase the number of men and women on the path to American citizenship.

Satellite remarks to the League of United Latin American Citizens convention
July 8, 2004

Funny, most Americans are under the impression that current law tells illegal aliens that they aren't welcome here and that they must remain in their own countries until we decide to admit them.

At any rate, again President Bush doesn't seem to entertain much thought about any numeric restrictions as to how many foreign nationals might be admitted as guest workers each year.

Well, 2004 was a campaign year, so maybe the President was saving the best for last: order to take pressure off the borders, in order to make the borders more secure, I believe there ought to be a temporary worker card that allows a willing worker and a willing employer to mate up, so long as there's not an American willing to do that job, to join up in order to be able to fulfill the employers' needs.

Transcript: Third Presidential Debate
October 13, 2004

Well there you have it, ladies and gents, the primary consideration as to how many guest workers might be admitted into the country appears to be the willingness of the employers and their foreign-born employees to match up the ability of the program "to fulfill the employers' needs."

As the President's position currently stands, that means that every new job created in America could be offered at minimum wage, and if no American can be found to accept the eroded wage, the job would be up for grabs to any foreign guest worker who's willing.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that at the same time, the President wants to legalize millions of illegal aliens while pretending he opposes Amnesty.