If It's Broken, Expand It
The thermometer may be plunging, with rain, snow, or sleet the forecast in your area. But it's always a good day to criticize Newt Gingrich's immigration plan.
Two of the litmus tests for a Republican is a demand that taxes be lowered for the wealthy and reasonable regulations on the business community be minimized. Joining those non-negotiable items now is the determination to "control the border." Though far more reasonable than the other GOP demands, no Republican has yet acknowledged that President Obama has been far more successful pursuing this goal than was either George W. Bush or Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6). (Bush the Elder has become largely disowned by the party faithful.) Part of Gingrich's immigration policy, at various times described as "compassionate" and "humane" is the idea Newt often repeats, as he did at last night's GOP presidential debate (transcript, here) in Florida:
You should have a guest worker program, probably run by American Express, Visa or MasterCard so they minimize fraud, which the federal government won’t do. And you should have much stronger employer penalties at that point because you can validate it.
The federal government's current temporary worker program consists of the H-2 visa, broken down into the H-2a visa (agricultural) and the H-2b (non-agricultural) visa. Owing to the greater worker protections afforded under its terms, H-2b alone has grown in favor among employers.
Mary Bauer and Sarah Reynolds of the Southern Poverty Law Center explained in March, 2007
In the process of attaining a H-2 guest worker visa, workers typically fall victim to bait-and-switch schemes that force them to borrow huge sums of money at high interest rates (often leveraging family homes) in order to land short-term, low-wage jobs that all too often end up shorter-term and lower-waged than promised. Under crushing debt, and legally bound to work only for the employer who filed petition for them, these workers often face the most dangerous and harsh of working conditions in places like shipyards, the forestry department, or construction, with no medical benefits for on-the-job injuries or access to legal services. Bosses often hold workers’ documents to make sure they don’t “jump jobs.”