Grover Norquist – the promoter of the no new taxes pledge – doesn’t like the new FAIR Congressional Task Force pledge to oppose amnesty for illegal aliens and increased legal immigration. That’s probably because he is an open-borders supporter.
But his statement as to why he opposes the pledge had the effect of revealing his ignorance of current immigration law and history. Norquist told NewsMax.com, that in his view, “The easiest parts for free market Reagan Republicans is to say, ‘We ought to have a guest worker program particularly in the farm industry. There are a lot of jobs that are seasonal. It’s hard to make a living if jobs show up for three months and then disappear, but people can come in as guest workers.'”
That sounds reasonable, right? Sure, but it ignores the fact that there is a visa program for guest agricultural workers. It is termed the H-2A visa program, and the number of temporary workers who can be brought into the country in that program is unlimited.
Norquist also became nostalgic. “And that worked very well during the Eisenhower years with the Bracero program — we had very little illegal immigration during that period because people could come over and work and then head back home again and come back each year with a permit, with a card which made it OK.”
The trouble with his history lesson is that the Bracero program was adopted in 1942 during a period of farm labor shortage because young males were conscripted into the military to fight WWII and many women went to work in factories. But it did not end with the end of the war. It lingered until 1964 because employers found they could depress wage costs by hiring Mexican workers rather than U.S. workers. Wages in seasonal agriculture atrophied and labor leaders like Cesar Chavez supported efforts to end the program. Norquist also is apparently oblivious to the fact that the flow of Mexicans into the U.S. under the Bracero program got so out of hand that President Eisenhower ordered the immigration authorities to begin Operation Wetback to round up and send back to Mexico the enormous number of Mexicans who entered as Bracero workers and then stayed illegally.
The H-2A visa program – unlike the Bracero program – has worker protections to prevent foreign guest workers from being exploited, as happened during the earlier program.
So, in his blissful ignorance, Norquist fails to understand that we already have an agricultural guest worker program, and he fails to recognize the flaws in the Bracero program that the current program is designed to correct.