September 19, 2007 | WebMemo on Immigration
After failing to secure amnesty for the over 12 million individuals unlawfully in the United States with a deeply flawed approach to comprehensive immigration reform, some Members of the Senate are now reintroducing amnesty piecemeal, spread across several bills. One is the "Ag JOBS Act of 2007" (S. 340), which could be attached to the upcoming farm bill. The bill contains the same language as this summer's failed immigration legislation, including provisions granting amnesty to undocumented workers. Instead of reviving amnesty, Congress should focus on reforming the existing H2-A agricultural worker visa program to allow legal flows of workers that meet the needs of employers and employees.
Ag JOBS Atrocity
The Ag JOBS Act would create a pilot program that provides work visas, called "blue cards," to guest workers who wish to work in the agricultural sector, regardless of whether they are currently illegally present. In sum, the Ag JOBS Act would grant amnesty to 1.5 million illegal agricultural workers and 1.8 million of their family members. Because it adopts a looser approach to the basic requirements that applicants must meet to be granted blue card status, this legislation would make it even easier for illegal immigrants to obtain legal status than under the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill. Three changes are especially significant:
In addition to this amnesty, several provisions in the act would compound the illegal immigration problem:
A Real Solution
Rather than try to pass another amnesty bill, Congress should:
Amnesty, however it is clothed, is the wrong answer. The right solution is to enact fair, compassionate, and practical reforms to current visa programs that get employers the employees they need.
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Assistant Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Senior Research Fellow in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Diem Nguyen is a Research Assistant in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.