It’s fitting that the last remaining obstacle to a Senate immigration deal has been a demand by the Chamber of Commerce and the rest of corporate America, including agriculture, for a large “guest worker” program to continue to provide cheap, docile labor, and for higher immigration quotas for high-tech workers.
That has been the root of this issue from the beginning. Through the 1990s and 2000s, the same political pressures that are now demanding a continued supply of cheap labor had also prevented government from active enforcement of immigration law both at the border and in the workplace.
It was about money and power. Those who had money and power wanted more of both, and illegal immigrants were a tool for achieving it. I mean, what part of “profitable” don’t you understand?
Georgia provides a great example: The housing boom created a need for cheap construction workers, and as long as politically powerful developers and farmers needed their labor, neither the state’s congressional delegation — yes, I’m looking at you, Saxby — nor the state Legislature made even a peep about wanting tighter enforcement. The result is that we now have one of the larger illegal-immigrant communities in the nation, not to mention a Legislature worried about the long-term demographic and political impact of a migration that that they had tacitly welcomed, if under different circumstances.
– Jay Bookman