Re: My First Question

by Jonah Goldberg

Not so fast Ramesh. I asked: “Other than the unfairness of validating the efforts of the lawbreakers, is there a conservative public policy objection I am missing to creating a guest worker program?”

Your answer, it seems to me, is based entirely on political and pragmatic grounds. Fair enough. But that’s not really what I asked, or intended to ask.

Moreover, in almost all of your posts you use the word “amnesty” as a stand-in for “Bush’s plan.” The premise of my question was that we take Bush & Co. at their word that this is not an amnesty but a guest-worker program.

Indeed, you yourself have intimated — as have others — that amnesty is unpopular with almost everybody, including Hispanics. So maybe the Bushies don’t actually think this is an amnesty? Maybe they’re sincere, believing that allowing people to work here legally for a while and then requiring them to leave is a fair compromise. Maybe, they think that’s a way to win some of those anti-amnesty Hispanic votes I keep hearing are out there while at the same time seeming “compassionate” and level-headed on the issue? You steal a base, it seems to me, when you say “If amnesty is the way [to win votes] why should we expect deportation to be doable?” while so many of Bush’s immigration opponents have been saying that amnesty is in fact not the way to win votes. So if it’s not the way to win votes, maybe Karl Rove actually knows that — which is why he came up with a guest-worker program instead?

Second, I probably made a mistake raising the possibility of Bush’s proposal making guest workers (formerly illegal immigrants) easier to find. It really isn’t relevant to my question. But let’s concede that it certainly wouldn’t make the guest workers harder to find.

So again, as a matter of public policy, what’s wrong with a guest worker program that actually does what it’s supposed to do: Allow immigrants in to work and then sends them packing when they’re done.

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