Here's some more from a mysterious Economist blogger on the subject of guest worker program. As he says, "In the end, immigration reform did not fail in America due to liberal quandaries on the ethics of guest worker programs; it failed because the Republican Party took a hard right turn on the issue." The question, then, is whether there's reason to think that greater reliance on a guest-worker program (or, to be more precise, on a large expansion of current law's very modest guest-worker allowances) would defuse some of the opposition.
The answer, I and the Mystery Blogger both agree, seems to be "no." None of the things that bother people about immigration would be substantially less bothersome in a guest worker scheme than under a more liberal immigration regime. If anything, you'd see the reverse. Trade unions have often been hostile to immigration. More recently, they've decided that their interests lie in organizing immigrant workers and seeking legal status for members of the workforce who are currently here illegally. Guest workers are essentially impossible to unionize, so a large bloc of guest workers is something unions -- currently supportive of immigration liberalization -- would be duty-bound to oppose. On the merits, I think both Reason and The Economist would welcome any effort to further crush the American labor movement, but it doesn't make sense to advocate something so patently anti-labor as a second-best political tactic. All it'd do is push unions into the restrictionist camp and totally doom the prospects for liberal reform.
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