Giant Trampling Sound
by DCDave

"We recruited workers, but people came."
--German observer on their guestworker program

Imagine a provision that would radically worsen the already abysmal working conditions of mainly Mexican farm laborers brought into this country, put downward pressure on the already stagnant wages of U.S. farm workers and greatly reduce their job opportunities, dramatically increase the number of illegal immigrants flooding into the country with federal government assistance (giving the government an even greater excuse to enact provisions which violate our privacy by keeping tabs on every American), and further stimulate and assist what amounts to a new, criminal slave trade.

Leave it to our Congress, which this July snuck a vast new liberalization of the existing, widely-abused guestworker arrangement for farm labor into a Senate appropriations bill. The proposed changes are not designed to end the abuses, rather, they would make them immeasurably worse. The provision passed by a vote of 68 to 31. The breakdown of votes is on July 1998 Vote on US Farmworkers' Bill.

What one notices right off the bat in this vote is that not a single Republican voted against this pernicious measure and quite a few Democrats abandoned their colleagues and voted with the Republicans for it. Who could possibly be for it and why did so many vote "yea?" Notice who the advertisers are for the opinion-molding Sunday morning public affairs programs on television and you will have a good idea. They are the large agribusiness companies whose political clout is shown by their ability to transfer huge sums of money from taxpayers and consumers to themselves through the agricultural subsidy program that the Congress has put in place for them. Now they want to fatten up even more through the use of virtual slave labor, and our Congress is primed and ready to help them do it. The supporters represent a powerful, politics-as-usual, greed-based, bipartisan coalition of Republicans who in any issue that pits management against labor will come down on the side of management and fuzzy-minded globalists who really don't care if a by-product of the legislation is a flood of new illegal immigrants. The hard-headed among them will see a culturally fractured America all the easier to manipulate and rule while the soft-headed will celebrate our wonderful growing multi-cultural "diversity." The supporting coalition, in brief, looks very much like the one that gave us the NAFTA and the enhanced GATT and recently slid a bill through the House by one vote that would put Puerto Rico on a fast track for statehood.

The opposition, on the other hand, is also a bipartisan coalition similar to the labor-populist-patriot alliance that opposed the NAFTA and the enhanced GATT, but they have been slow in getting their act together as evidenced by the Senate vote. So far the only ones to make their presence felt have been the pro-labor protectors of farm workers. The patriot-populists, on the other hand, seem to have used up most of their energy unsuccessfully opposing legislation to expand the quota for high-tech brainworkers being pushed by the electronics companies. It was a worthy effort, but this H-1B brainworker program has only a tiny percentage of the potential for swelling the illegal immigration rolls that the liberalized H-2A program for farm labor does.

Representing the pro-labor opponents are the California Rural Legal Assistance Federation, on their excellent web site, and the Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc., whose fine analysis, as far as it goes, of the legislation appears on the CRLAF web site and is repeated at the conclusion of this article.

The FJF analysis of the H-2A provision describes a collection of sweeping changes, all of which could have hardly have been better designed to tip the balance in favor of non-citizen guest workers over U. S. farm workers. The most important of the changes in all likelihood would be the elimination of the requirement that growers provide free housing to the guest workers, the one big current obstacle for many growers under the current H2-A system. By making it so much easier for growers to use Mexican nationals and doing nothing to improve the policing of the program that is already responsible for a great deal of existing illegal immigration in the country, this quiet little amendment is virtually certain to open the floodgates for undocumented (or falsely documented) aliens.

Why the quiet? So far the two groups who most vociferously opposed HR 3736, the increase in the H-1B quotas, even to the point of taking out full-page advertisements in Washington newspapers, have said virtually nothing about this proposal. The two groups are the Coalition for the American Cause (Patrick J. Buchanan, Chairman) and The Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR). A search of the web site of the first group turns up no mention of the legislation. At the site of the group one would expect to be most interested we find only this brief reference, put up at the time that the measure passed the Senate: Speaking of the amendment to S. 2260, they say that it, "Creates a new agriculture guestworker program that would allow current illegal farmworkers to apply for legal status and bring in even more foreign workers. These programs are notorious for increasing illegal immigration and depressing wages for agricultural workers."

The measure will waltz through the House unless pressure can be brought to bear on the Main Street Republicans, concerned about the growing fragmentation of our country, to join with pro-labor Democrats in opposing it. So far, the groups one would expect to be taking the lead toward that end seem not to be doing it. I called the offices of both groups two working days ago to ask them why they are doing so little, and neither has yet returned my call.

Please read the Farmworker Justice Fund analysis and note how poorly the FAIR statement above captures the essence of the threat.

Also reference the article received from Bruce Goldstein after I called him and told him that I did not think his group was giving enough emphasis to the huge increase in illegal immigration that would almost surely result from this legislation. This response demonstrates persuasively that we are correct in our fears. In our phone conversation he also revealed an awareness of just how badly the current arrangement is being criminally abused.

David Martin
September 28, 1998

The Bird The Bird Columns DCDave's Homepage DCDave's Column DCDave's Column 2
newsgroup: alt.thebird email:
search for: