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Guest-Worker Programs Encourage Migration

October 06, 2003

Re "A Smart Farm-Worker Bill," Oct. 1: There is no proven need for a foreign guest-worker program, especially in agriculture. In many farm areas, including the Central Valley of California, unemployment rates above 15% and even 20% occur in some communities. The late Cesar Chavez was ambivalent about guest-worker plans, seeing them as a way for growers to hold back wages and unions. The late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) and her U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform were against guest-worker plans, viewing them as a veiled amnesty for illegal migrants.

Instead of encouraging migration, the U.S. should do more to help Mexico and Central America develop jobs at home. We rebuilt Western Europe after World War II, and are now planning to rebuild Iraq. I think a more modest economic assistance program for our southern neighbors is even more important and would be less costly than the billions of dollars we spend each year on providing services for poor migrants.

Victor Neiberg

Vista

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