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In 2004 President Bush proposed a guest worker program as a way to bring needed labor to the United States. Some speculated that this was President Bush's way of giving back to illegal immigrants.
U.S. Immigration
U.S. Immigration
US Guest Worker Program

Bush discussed the important role that immigrants have played in the United States by shaping America into what it is today as well as their significant contributions to the American economy. The United States has had a tradition of welcoming foreigners into the country who have tended to assimilate well into American culture. Bush mentioned that the growth of immigrants over time has propelled the economy into the world’s largest and has allowed the U.S. to be a model for other nations. Contributions of immigrants continue to be evident as they take on difficult jobs that many times require long hours. Immigrants are also known as being entrepreneurs and often start their own businesses, which help contribute to the U.S. economy. President Bush drew upon his personal experiences as a Texan to point out how Mexican immigrants he knew had made a difference in the country. He also added that they bring certain values with them like family, work ethic, and independence. President Bush also cited the thousands of immigrants that currently serve in the military. They may be foreign born but this did not deter them from embracing the service opportunities that this country has to offer.

Bush emphasized the qualities that immigrants brought to the country and how the United States was dependent upon them. Therefore, he suggested that changes in the current immigration system needed to be introduced. Some employers take advantage of the current situation of illegal immigrants by paying them less than minimum wage and sometimes forcing them to work in inhumane circumstances. Many hard-working illegal immigrants find themselves fearing deportation due to nationwide raids. Undocumented immigrants also often live with the fear that someone will report them to authority figures and that they might get deported. This can have many negative effects, such as not reporting crimes to authorities. Bush stated that because the United States ties up resources in patrolling the borders in order to prevent immigrants from entering the country illegally, the overall efforts of the United States are hampered and resources are wasted. Thus, President Bush proposed the necessity of a better immigration system so that more immigrants are able to achieve the American Dream.

Many immigrants come to the United States with the intention of improving their lives through the many opportunities offered in the country. Often, immigrants end up becoming employed in sectors that don’t attract many American workers. Illegal immigrants make many sacrifices to reach the United States and, unfortunately, often undergo abuse. Other times they are exploited. Unfortunately, abuses and exploitation often remain unreported due to fears of deportation. Bush criticized the country’s current immigration system, stating the regulations are not fair and that laws need to become more humane. Under Bush’s proposed temporary worker program, foreign workers would be given the opportunity to fill jobs that are often not even considered by Americans. Before a company can seek a foreign employee under the guest worker program, they must first make reasonable efforts to hire an American to fulfill the job vacancy. In the case that the position remains unfilled, the employer can then try to hire an immigrant who has a valid work permit. Employers will be required to hire only those with a valid permit. In addition, employers must report the information of their guest worker employees, so that the government can keep track. Permits will be given for a three year period and would be renewable upon meeting certain requirements. Those violating any requirements or laws will have their permit revoked and will face deportation. The government will also enforce harsh penalties for employers who violate any work laws under the guest worker program.

Those who participate in the guest worker program will be required to register and possibly pay a fee. Applicable fees and registration would depend on whether they were currently residing in the country or if they are currently abroad. In order to identify individuals in the program, participants would be given a temporary worker card. It is proposed that the U.S. government would also work closely with the foreign governments to make sure that after the work permit has expired, the foreign worker would have incentives to return to their home country. In addition, there would potentially be a way so that the temporary worker receives “credit” for their work in America and it is applied to the retirement system in the foreign country. The temporary workers would also be able to contribute part of their earnings to some type of retirement savings plan. While the guest work program proposed in 2004 was not approved, the guest worker program is speculated to be among the forefront of immigration issues addressed in the upcoming year. The guest worker program was previously part of the 2007 immigration reform bill that was not approved in the Congress.