Tamar Jacoby's lunatic semi-permanent "guest" worker tryout points system
...[an] unrealistic faction of Republicans, though willing to admit an extra 400,000 workers a year, is insisting that they stay only temporarily - that no matter how well they do in this country or what kind of roots they put down here, every single one of them must go home at the end of a three-year work stint... These Republicans' mantra is "temporary is temporary," and the reasoning behind it isn't entirely wrong... But what about the foreigners who do so well here — rising up the economic ladder, putting down roots and falling in love with the United States — that they want to settle permanently and, like generations of immigrants before them, become citizens? We need a system that can accommodate them too... One possible compromise: Allow foreign workers to enter on temporary visas, then use a point system [see: Chuck Hagel's scheme] to determine who can stay... Far better to admit an array of temporary workers, skilled and unskilled, and then after a few years use a point system to screen them for permanent visas: a system that rewards not just skill and education but hard work, job advancement, abiding by the law, learning English, putting down roots and investing in your community — the things we want to see in U.S. citizens... "Temporary is temporary" makes a good sound bite, but as a one-size-fits-all policy, it's not a workable answer. A system like that would deprive us of our most able, enterprising newcomers. Even worse, many of them probably would not go home when their work stints were done, but instead would burrow underground, creating another generation of illegal immigrants.
My response is in parable form: once upon a time there was a farmer named Farmer Bob, who decided to try some new seeds in his garden. He figured if they didn't work out, he could always dig them up and send them back, and he decided to decide which to send back based on the depths of their roots. The plants struggled as hard as they could to develop deep roots. Then came decision day. By that time, the plants had formed the National Council of The Plants, who held candlelight vigils fighting tooth and nail to prevent Farmer Bob from sending back even those plants who had turned out to be complete epiphytes. They complained about his criteria, they planted news stories about sympathetic plants, the plants even marched through his field demanding amnesty! Eventually Farmer Bob just threw up his arms and decided to let them all stay. Boy was he angry at the seed saleswoman who'd sold him that bill of goods!
Nowadays, Farmer Bob wishes he'd read her brochure more closely and had realized that it carried the seeds of its own destruction.
In recent related news:
Tamar Jacoby now Los Angeles Times contributing editor
Florida businesses join to support immigration "reform" (Laura Wides-Munoz, Laura Reiff)
"Stop chasing that busboy"
Tamar Jacoby reiterates pro-busboy, pro-gardener stance