President G.W. Bush and his cadre of Republican advisors are following in the footsteps of past Democratic and Republican administrations. They are dealing with a labor problem as if it were an immigration matter. Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, is very willing to allow the issue of sending laborers to the U.S. to be handled as an immigration issue. It suits his political agenda. Anything goes as long as this issue is treated as a political problem.
Since its inception, the issue of how to control the ingress and outgress of seasonal or short term foreign workers has been viewed as an "immigration" issue. Therefore, it was placed under the control of the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services. The INS' main function is to administer the process of immigration into the United States as dictated by the laws established by Congress. The control of our borders and all entry points into the U.S. are within its mandates. The INS is under the control of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is under the control of the president. It is a department that does not operate in a ministerial manner, and it is subject to political manipulation and pressure from the presidential party.
Once it was determined that our country needed foreign workers on a continuous basis, it should have been under the purview of the Department of Labor and not of the INS. The Department of Labor is subject to the rules specifically established for that department. It functions in a prescribed manner that does not allow for personal discretion and free of political interference.
The Department of Labor has been the proper place in which to control and administer the temporary work force, and keep it in line with the labor laws of our country. The Secretary of Labor should be the responsible administrator of the migration of workers. The Secretary of Labor, in conjunction with other sending nations, should be developing the protocols that would govern the procedures to be complied by all parties concerned. The manner of "ingress and outgress" by the foreign work force would then be governed by the Department of Labor subject to the protocols agreed and approved by the sending and receiving nations.
At the present time, the Department of Labor has little or no say in one of the principal national and international labor problems currently facing our nation. How long will it take President Bush and his administration to realize that past administrations have thoroughly bungled the guest worker program in this country?
It is a truism that all foreign workers come to work. It is not a truism that they all come here to become U.S. Citizens.