The Corner

An Ideal Guest-Worker Program

In response to Jonah’s latest question: The “temporary” guest worker program, as applied to illegal immigrants who are here, is a partial amnesty even if it is applied just as the Bush administration claims it will be. It means you have three, six, nine, or however many years to work here with official approval even though you came illegally. You will not be punished for breaking the law during that period.

As for my allegedly stolen base, I think I can eliminate it by rephrasing my point. If avoiding mass deportations and providing a partial amnesty for illegal immigrants is the way to win Hispanic votes, as many supporters of the administration and you yourself say, then why would there be any reason to have deportations in 3-12 years?

Your hypothetical question concerns my reaction to the idea of a guest worker program. If that program was unlike most others in the past, if its tough elements were enforced in a way that its political logic does not suggest it would be, if the inherent practical difficulties it would create in enforcing them (e.g., the presence of citizen babies) were overcome, then I guess it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.