Friday, May 18, 2007

Don't Quit Your Day Job

For all the illegal immigrants, the grand announcement of a tentative deal to normalize their status has left them scratching their heads. Is it good news, this bargain struck in Congress, or is it more of the same? Talk, followed by news headlines trumpeting a breakthrough, has been heard before.

The full Senate has yet to decide on whether or not to cobble together a program to allow those here illegally to come out from behind the wall and stand proud in the sun. To hear the news reports, one might think that a solution to a thorny issue had been tackled and wrestled to the ground. Hot on the heels of the announcement, however, came the first bleatings of protest. It's an amnesty, some Senators were heard to say, and we'll not have it.

It's not one political party or the other that's ready to attack and tear the legislation to shreds. Much depends on where the politician comes from and what the locals think. In these parts, where Mexican immigrants bus tables, clean houses, cut lawns, paint, dry-wall, and so on ad infinitum, voters agree that something must be done to change the law, but whatever happens don't make these people go back. Who'll mind the babies, for the love of God? Who'll bag the groceries? Not our local youth -- they've no need of jobs.

Some parts of the country don't even know what an illegal immigrant looks like. They've no need of cheap labor because there's not much doing where they live, and they fear an influx of foreigners who might come in and snatch up the few jobs that exist. It's "No Irish Need Apply" once again, and it's the same fear of change that's behind it. Can you look at Boston and say it's the same city as it was when shots were fired at Breed's Hill?

Under provisions of the proposed bill, 400,000 guest workers could come to call, and they can't settle down permanently. Those with skills, like computer geeks from India who would work for less money than their American counterparts, would get priority while the lovely Irish gentleman who's putting the addition on your house would have to take a back seat. 'Sure we'll have the dry wall up by next spring, missus, if I can get back in the country' will become a handy excuse for delays in construction.

Then there's the fines and requirements to leave the country before obtaining a green card. That's a bit of a problem for the illegals working for cash, at less than minimum wage, and who would be willing to go back home with no guarantee that you'd get back in? What happens to a person's business if they're not in the country to run things? Think you could bring in your brother to lend a hand, or get your oldest son over to wield a hammer or a saw? Not with the new program that guts the traditional methods to build wealth through a family business.

So don't be quitting your day job, illegal immigrant. This new plan won't take effect any time soon, and it certainly won't look the same when it's passed.