Immigration Reform

05.06.13

Why Are Conservatives Endorsing a Guest Worker Program?

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Fred Bauer writes at National Review on a part of comprehensive immigration reform that isn't getting the notoriety it deserves, the guest worker program:

After Mitt Romney’s defeat in November 2012, many on the right, including Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), came to the conclusion that the Republican party needed to become a party of middle-class restoration, economic opportunity, and upward mobility. This conclusion has been complemented by a growing recognition that the stagnation of opportunity and the undermining of the middle class pose serious threats to the future of small-government conservatism.

If that is the case, a guest-worker program could cause big problems for the GOP. Many of the institutions that would be central for administering this program are premised on the notion of bureaucratic control of the free market. The regulatory structure of a guest-worker program, combined with birthright citizenship, could place millions more in legal and cultural gray areas. And the expansion of such programs could put further pressure on the incomes and employment prospects of both native-born citizens and permanent residents. This guest-worker bill could at once deter Americans from working in the fields of the future and make life even harder for those at the economic margins. The precise details of the Gang of Eight’s guest-worker program clearly need more explication, but there might also be a broader theoretical difficulty with a Republican embrace of it.