03 May 2006

Green card

Fareed Zakaria explains why proposed "guest worker" programs are pernicious, dumb, and bad for America by pointing to how this has failed in Germany.
The German Green Card was misnamed, I argued, because it never, under any circumstances, translated into German citizenship. The U.S. green card, by contrast, is an almost automatic path to becoming American (after five years and a clean record).

The official dismissed my objection, saying that there was no way Germany was going to offer these people citizenship. "We need young tech workers," he said. "That's what this program is all about." So Germany was asking bright young professionals to leave their country, culture and families; move thousands of miles away; learn a new language; and work in a strange land -- but without any prospect of ever being part of their new home. Germany was sending a signal, one that was accurately received in India and other countries, and also by Germany's own immigrant community.

What's true for bright young Indian tech workers is no less true for hardworking middle aged Latino service industry workers, or anyone else coming to America for a new life. There are places where I think reasonable people may differ about immigration policy, but the guest worker programs many folks—including the Bush administration—have proposed are just a bad idea, period.

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